“Sometimes in yoga, I feel like a graceful swan. Other times I feel like a baby giraffe learning to use its legs.” Author Unknown
I love this particular quote because its so true. If you are thinking of starting a yoga practice, or maybe you’ve already started, I think it’s important to normalize the fact that yoga poses can feel very awkward and weird at first. I always tell new students that if a pose feels weird, it’s because it IS! Just answer this: why wouldn’t putting your hands and feel on the ground and sticking your “behind” up in the air and looking backwards through your legs NOT feel weird? In your “normal” adult life, you don’t put your body into unusual and yes, sometimes uncomfortable positions. You, like most adults, have your typical movements of sitting, standing, reaching moderately, and sometimes bending over to pick something up. Seldom do you really STRETCH, move your spine in all directions, breathe deep, and focus on what you are doing right here, right now. You move from a place of habit, which generally keeps your body’s movements limited in range and certainly does not challenge it. If you want to get more flexible, stronger, increase your mobility and improve your balance, you must challenge your body. Yoga does all of this – naturally.
Starting your practice with a beginner’s mind, curious and child-like is essential. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Enjoy the process of learning something new. Go at your own pace. Consider how babies, toddlers, and children move. They will go upside down for the fun of it (Downward Facing Dog pose)! Babies lie on their backs and reach for their feet (Happy Baby pose). Children will pretend to be horses and cows, monkeys and dogs. They do all of this without thoughts like “Am I doing this right?”” or “What if someone sees me?” Or “I’m not a dog, why should I pretend to be one?” They simply PLAY.
So…consider your mat as your playground. Pay attention to things you typically don’t notice – the way your body moves, the way your body breathes, and the way your body feels. Accept that sometimes movements and poses will feel awkward – and that’s ok. Life itself is not meant to easy all the time, and practicing yoga regularly will prepare you for those difficult situations you will undoubtably experience. Yoga is a practice for LIFE. And let’s face it, sometimes life is awkward. And that’s ok.
Author: Mrs Lori Redlinger, Yoga Provider