But here’s the thing: yoga really is that powerful.
It’s hard to believe that a meditative practice that’s been around for 5000 years has such a cultural stronghold on the fitness industry, but yoga promises pain relief, healing, increased flexibility and muscle tone, and clarity of mind. There are 36 million people in the US regularly practicing yoga with that number increasing each year. Of those non-practicing, a whopping 34% said they would try it but currently have barriers preventing them.
So we are going to break down the top three obstacles that are keeping you off the mat. Through dispelling some myths and offering some suggestions, perhaps you will find that it’s time for you to enjoy the stress relief, flexibility, and overall well-being that comes with a personal yoga practice.
“I don’t know what I’m doing.”
“Everyone in class is better than me.”
“I don’t look like that in those yoga poses or designer yoga wear.”
Just try, no-they-aren’t, and no-one-is-looking-at-you. The most amazing aspect of yoga is that its core purpose is finding inner peace and mental clarity. All of the statements you hear inside your head when fear is in control are exactly why you might be ready to tiptoe into mountain pose. Also, there are no real levels with yoga as you are certain to find both beginners and experts in any class. It’s not a competition, which can be challenging for those who come to physical activity from a sports lens. Go at your own pace and do what you can. Remember that when you see someone with their feet behind their head, it has no bearing on what kind of person they are or life they live. It just means they can put their feet behind their head.
Our suggestions to overcome FEAR: Start small. Teacher-lead yoga classes are readily available on most streaming platforms. We love YouTube yogis Yoga with Kassandra and Yoga with Adriene, but there are literally thousands to choose from. Remove the obstacle of self-consciousness and quiet your inner competitor by starting your yoga journey in your living room. When you’ve done a series you like and you are ready to have an actual instructor give you adjustments, do some research. Not all studios or types of yoga are built equally. Maybe you want a hot room and long poses – try Bikram. Power yoga integrates traditional fitness like cardio and strength-training into your practice. Maybe you want a flowing practice where you don’t hold poses for too long, in which case, check out vinyasa studios. Part of why yoga has been universally beloved by millions for thousands of years is because it is unique and individual to everyone. Every single human who practices yoga has a personal method and connection. You will find your own path to comfort and confidence too.
You already hurt constantly. The thought of downward dog and deep lunges sound impossible to you. Whether you are in chronic pain, suffer from arthritis symptoms, or struggle from constant joint pain, finding a physical activity that works with your body and that you are able to commit to is like finding a unicorn. While doctors may tell you that physical activity is the only way to stay ahead of your pain and inflammation, the path to movement is a difficult one. Did you know that the number of people over 50 who regularly do yoga has tripled over the last four years? Did you also know that yoga is proven to help with back pain? It’s true…yoga relieves pain without pain medication and boosts your immune system. It seems that the adage is accurate, “The only way out is through.”
Our suggestion to overcome PAIN: Of course, staying hydrated and consulting your doctor before trying any new exercise regime is important; but in the meantime, modify moves. Every teacher will offer modifications to each pose. Take the opportunity presented to continue the flow of your practice while not jeopardizing your pain level. Managing pain, specifically joint and arthritis pain is on the minds of many. Many have found success through various methods. Alternating hot showers to warm your joints and then utilizing ice soaks after exercise is often recommended to manage inflammation. Others look to daily nutrition supplements like collagen, glucosamine, and turmeric to assist persistent joint pain. Still, others have found that CBD oil for joint pain is incredibly helpful. CBD (cannabidiol oil) is derived from the hemp plant and lacks the THC that triggers psychoactive effects with usage. Regardless of your method of pain management, adding strength and flexibility to your body will only help your current barriers.
Maybe you already have a strong vision of what yoga is all about and can’t see yourself in that image: a gaggle of goddesses stretching and strengthening to New Age music while the wafting aroma of incense clears the minds of all of the spandex-clad spiritual dancers. Maybe you don’t think you will fit in. Or you won’t be good enough. Or flexible enough. Or deep enough. Or maybe you think you aren’t capable of these poses or the peace of mind at the end of class scares you. Listen, that’s just your ego talking.
Our suggestion to overcome EGO: Yoga is for everyone. It’s for patchouli mamas and sculpted singles, bearded teachers and finance lawyers, senior citizens and high school quarterbacks – it’s for vegans and carnivores. It’s all-inclusive. You don’t have to already be a yogi to start yoga. That’s counterintuitive. So we suggest this: Begin. Just try it. Get out of your head and onto the mat. Let your instructor, streaming or in real life, be the only voice you listen to. Breathe in, breathe out, repeat. You simply must begin. There’s no other way to progress toward anything than to begin the journey itself.
We think you’re ready.
See you on the mat.