There are many great reasons to do Yoga. Yoga increases strength and flexibility and improves respiration, heart health and sleep, whilst decreasing symptoms of stress, chronic pain and low mood. But with all the evidence of Yoga’s many benefits, there are still people who are put off starting the practice due to misconceptions about why they ‘can’t do Yoga’.
As a Yoga teacher, when I meet people they either tell me how much they love Yoga or the reasons why they don’t do it. “I can’t touch my toes”, “I don’t have the strength”, “I haven’t tried Yoga but I prefer the gym”, “I don’t have the body for Yoga”, “I know I won’t be any good at it” are all some of the reasons people give me.
But what I find really interesting is that people’s reasons for starting Yoga in the first place often have nothing to do with becoming more flexible or have anything to do with their body, more often than not people come along to Yoga with a friend or partner and end up getting hooked! If it doesn’t seem like Yoga is going to answer any of your physical ambitions or challenges right now that’s completely fine, but you may find like thousands of other converts that Yoga is for you simply because you enjoy doing it.
The truth is you might feel out of shape in your first class and for many people those first few times on the mat are not particularly enjoyable, whilst others may breeze through their first few practices and then seem to hit a roadblock a few weeks in. It is important to recognize that a continued practice is the only way in which you’ll learn more about your body and more about yourself. So please don’t give up straight away! The key to those first few classes is to do your best to listen to the teacher as you fumble your way through the poses, try not to worry about ‘keeping up’ or watching other students but embrace the challenges knowing that everyone, including the teacher, had that first fumbling experience once upon a time too. The lack of strength, flexibility or coordination you may feel at the beginning are of course the exact reasons why you should continue practising!
A wise Yogi once said in order to practise Yoga you need just two things – you need to have a body (any size and shape will do) and you need to be someone who breathes. Assuming you have those credentials, that’s all there is to it!