Are You Suffering From Yogaphobia?

I have so many friends that constantly tell me that they want to start taking yoga, but it is just too scary. I've interpreted scary to mean intimidating. Accordingly, they see yoga as an elite, vegetarian, meditating community that they dare not try to puncture.

A friend of mine posted on her Facebook page, “yoga is for everyone.” I know that what she meant by this is yoga is open to everyone. Anyone and everyone can come try a class, find a passion, enter into a pose and take a life changing breath. However, yoga is definitely not for everyone, in the sense that not everyone will find the benefits of yoga. There was a time in my life when yoga was not for me (ahem, high school). In fact, in high school, I was kicked out of a yoga class for “not being prepared.” At the end of class, as I was sitting in the hall with a sour look on my face, my teacher came up to me to explain “when you come to my class, come ready to practice.”  I was utterly offended and pissed off. I did come ready to practice, or what I thought at the time was practice.

Three years later, my disdain for yoga had passed (and my attitude improved) and I decided to try another class. When I went to that class, I went to practice. I understood now what my teacher had meant. I went to that first yoga class for absolutely no reason, with no intent and no respect. I went to my next yoga practice with an intention to learn and to discover. As a student at the time, I was neither elite, nor did I practice meditation (I just happened to be a vegetarian). Regardless of these seemingly lacking qualities, I was a budding yogi that had successfully entered the yoga community.

After practicing yoga sincerely for three years, I am still not elite (nor will I ever be), and I am not a vegetarian. Now, I practice meditation because it helps me. There are no qualifications anyone has to have before entering their first yoga class. Physically, you can be in any sort of shape; mentally, you can be off your rocker; and spiritually, you may not know what the hell spiritually means.

Just come to practice. Practice whether yoga is for you, at that time. Practice whether you can find spirituality. Practice with some sort of intention -- no matter what that intention is. Finally, practice with a respect for yourself. As you respect yourself, respect for your practice, your teacher, and for others will naturally follow.

And remember to laugh. It will make your first scary yoga class so much more enjoyable.

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