This is a topic I am passionate about, especially since my own personal yoga story begins with hesitation before picking up the practice.
Trying vs. Doing
Have you ever said, "I'll give it a try"?
In my house, we rarely use the word "try". Famous quote reference #1, "Do or do not, there is no try", says Yoda from Star Wars Return of the Jedi. My husband is a wholehearted believer in that as well, so the word "try" doesn't always fly around here. Telling ourselves we're going to try something is an easy way to say yes, but it's guilt-free enough to back out if we don't like it. Starting an experience with that "I'll try it" attitude can be like going into battle with a broken shield. It can create barriers of fear and only nurture our timid-self rather than work to strengthen us. "Do or do not, there is no try." If you're going to do it, perhaps begin with the perspective of allowing the experience to mold you, touch you, show you the way.
Sometimes we subconsciously worry so much about something before even doing it, that we create a fabricated preliminary experience with imaginary expectations. Then when we finally do it, we realize the experience was completely different than the scenario drawn up in our head. Going to a yoga class for the first time, or adding complexity to your yoga routine are two great examples of this. Often times we tend to worry if we're breathing right or pointing our feet and knees in the proper direction. We can spend a lot of time worrying about our performance, what we look like to others (or our-self) or achievements that may or may not happen when we want it. This kind of self-built pressure can make yoga stressful and defeat the purpose completely.
Keep the Self-Judgement and Negativity Off the Mat
Are you on the fence about taking a yoga class for the first time?
Are you procrastinating certain poses because you're not good at it?
Do you judge yourself on the mat?
Let me paint a picture for you. Yoga isn't something we have to work for. There is no end goal to achieve. Sure, the more we practice and gain strength (of body and mind), the more complexity and depth we will be able to attain through yoga. It's not like going to school, where there are prerequisites and standards for expected progression. You're not being graded. There is no ultimate expectation that yogi's must work hard to reach or celebrate, except peace and love within the self. Practicing yoga could mean doing postures or asanas or simply sitting down and finding a quiet and peaceful space in time to absorb. If we focus too hard on looking, thinking or feeling a certain way before, during or after our yoga experience, then we are missing the whole point. There's no need to over-analyze it or make it intimidating...just be. The point is to receive yoga.
I have somewhat of a personal story to share with you, related to this very topic. There was a dark time in my life when I became consumed with giving more than I had. I gave so much into an endless empty pit that I had forgotten how to receive, from others and from life. When I finally started to dig myself back into a happy and healthy reality, I was given a book titled, "Receiving Love". The book was a guide to letting yourself be loved while in a committed relationship. At the time I was not in a relationship, but instead seeking to rekindle the one I used to have with myself. It didn't take more than a few pages for me to realize that I needed to surrender old habits, become vulnerable to myself and my surroundings and allow life and people to love me. Despite my inability at one time to differentiate black from white, this book eventually brought me back to myself.
Getting back on track...
When you allow something to be received in your life, you clear a pathway (like shoveling snow off your doorstep) and it's much easier to understand and fully experience what is happening. Why make "trying" or even "doing" yoga so darn difficult and complicated? Why add negativity to our practice with self-loathing? Perhaps there are fears or hesitations, or deep self-doubt (yes.)? If you try yoga with all those active barriers you've created, you will surely collapse miserably at the feet of all your premeditated expectations.
Start Where You Are
This is another obstacle that can halt many of us in our tracks. For some reason many of us have an assumption that we should be a certain way or at a certain level to embark in something new. For me, I thought I needed to be at a certain athletic ability and level of flexibility to do yoga. I'm not sure why we tend to start our journeys thinking this way, but I know I do it a lot (not just in yoga, but with my job too). It takes self-acceptance and self-value to put an end to this cycle. We need to practice giving ourselves permission to climb the ladder no matter how high it is or how far apart the steps are. "You have to start somewhere, right?" Start from where you are, right now. One of my lovely yoga teachers recently said, "We will always suck before getting really good at something. There's no way around it." Embrace it!
When you open your heart, leave your ego at the door and become vulnerable to yourself, you receive yoga.
Don't try it, receive it. Allow yourself to experience a new perspective.
Let's continue this conversation in the comments section!
Hello, I'm Julie.
Discover the wisdom of yoga and how it can bring nourishment, well-being and a deeper connection to all aspects of your life.