Do you want to start your own yoga practice?
It is challenging to take up something new, especially taking the first steps towards starting your own yoga practice at home.
We have all felt that same sense of trepidation starting a new activity; there is a sense of excitement but also an underlying feeling of foolishness… What if I am rubbish at this? This is my story of how I started practicing yoga.
In these days of instagram and selfies, I see photos of yogis performing wonderful postures in beautiful locations all around the world. Scrolling through some of these images, I had a sudden flashback to how difficult it was for me to step onto my first yoga mat. Specifically, the first yoga mat that I had purchased. I had been to a few classes and decided to buy my own mat. I remember unwrapping it and rolling it out on the living room floor and just scratching my head…
What do I do?
Where do I start?
With a sort of naive wisdom, I decided to follow the sequences in a book on Ashtanga yoga by David Swenson. Anyone familiar with yoga would know that trying to start out with the primary and intermediate Ashtanga yoga series was a bit ambitious…to say the least.
I remember giving my housemate strict instructions not to come into the room while I attempted to practice, I felt too embarrassed and inadequate to have anyone watch me.
But I persevered. Soon my shyness was overtaken by the realisation that I had discovered something wonderful that would change my life.
Now, each time I step onto the yoga mat I have a ritual: I take a moment to acknowledge what it is I bring to the mat, physically, mentally and emotionally. Only once I have done that can I answer those simple questions…
What do I do?
Where do I start?
And so begins the practice….
Skip forward several years to the day I first decided to try yoga on the beach. I strolled along the beach in my yoga outfit, yoga mat rolled under my arm. (I’m sure I was trying to look serene while inwardly shrinking at the thought that people might see me do this). I found what seemed a suitable spot, rolled out my mat and attempted a sun salutation and a few warrior postures….
My trusty yoga mat was failing me… it was stretching and slipping and sliding… to such an extent that I almost ended up doing the splits pose!
There was only one answer…. after all that time learning to step onto the yoga mat and to ‘be at one’, I now had to learn to step off the yoga mat…
Trust me, there is great freedom in discovering that yoga is not just for the yoga mat but that yoga is the feeling of warm sand under your feet.
So now I practice yoga anywhere I feel inspired, yoga mat or no. Furthermore, I no longer worry about what people may think, simply because I have done it so often.
I feel it is important to step out of our comfort zones, to ‘step off the mat’. Not just important, imperative! It is the stuff of life. I doubt that people avoid new things because they are just so darn comfortable… No, we don’t try things because we are afraid.
It is easier to be mildly afraid and do nothing than to be very afraid and achieve something.
There is a quote by Marcus Aurelius:
“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”
Well, that philosophy was to stand me in good stead when I first tried surfing… something that scared the living daylights out of me!
But that’s another story…
How about you? Is there something new you would like to try but always find an excuse to hold back? What’s your story?
*Watch this space: I will be posting up practices for you to try at home soon…*