When I tell people I’m a yoga teacher, I usually get one of two reactions: lots of excitement from the people who practice, and looks of sheepishness from the ones that don’t. Folks in the latter camp usually tell me they’ve been wanting to try it but they aren’t flexible. Or they don’t know how to make the time. Or they have injuries that preclude them from trying. Or they want a hard workout.
I 1000% respect that yoga is not for everyone. Not everyone likes it. Not everyone is interested in it. But for the person who is interested but thinks yoga isn’t for them — well, that’s someone I want to talk to.
A few things I’ve learned in my 12 years of teaching and 17 years of practicing:
- Flexibility is not a prerequisite for practicing or for having a sophisticated deep practice
- You don’t have to practice for 90 minutes. 10-20 minutes done regularly can change your life.
- Most injuries can be addressed in a practice. Working with a teacher who’s experienced in dealing with injuries is a good idea, but by no means do injuries prevent a person from practicing yoga.
- I sweat more in yoga than I have in just about anything else. I've ached and burned and wondered how I was going to take it another second. If you want to, you can work really, really hard, in yoga.
So for those of you who are new to yoga: WELCOME. A yoga practice is something you can carry with you for the rest of your life, and like any long-term relationship, you'll have times when you feel madly in love and times you’d rather do anything than be in the other’s company. There will be times you see the benefits of your practice showing up all over your life: in your body, in your emotional life, in your mental clarity, in your spirit’s peace. There may be other times when no matter how much you practice life still feels messy and out of control or deeply painful and confusing.
That's yoga: continuing to show up and ride the waves — of your body’s abilities and of your life — no matter how choppy or serene. Sometimes you may need a break. Sometimes you’ll do whatever it takes to make it to your mat. I invite you to embrace all of it. Yoga is a journey that truly can transform. Whatever you’re willing to give, your yoga will receive it gladly. And it is, after all, called a yoga practice, not a yoga perfect.