We know that starting a yoga practice can feel intimidating – we all have the things that hold us back from getting to that first class. Here are the top 10 things we hear people saying gets in the way of getting to yoga; and the 10 reasons why you can do yoga!
1) I can’t do yoga because I can’t even touch my toes.
Touching your toes is not a prerequisite of yoga. There may be many reasons why someone can’t touch their toes – stiff back, tight hamstrings, too tall, too short, too much in the middle, old injury etc. Flexibility, like strength, is something we build over time and practice. In the meantime, most studios offer props such as blocks or straps to assist in various ways. Unsure how to use the props available? Ask your teacher for help navigating the practice and make it accessible for you.
2) I can’t do yoga because I don’t have the right body for it.
Do you have a body? Then you can do yoga! Case closed.
3) I can’t do yoga because I have horrible balance.
Like flexibility, balance is built upon through practice. Your teacher will offer options if you’re feeling extra wobbly to start. Don’t be discouraged if one side is harder to balance on than the other, or if that side switches from class to class. Over time, you will begin to notice balancing becomes easier allowing you to move toward more challenging poses.
4) I can’t do yoga because I can’t possibly sit still or stay focused for that long.
Tibetan philosophy in yoga works toward quieting the mind, finding focus, and working toward sitting in calm stillness. Starting out very few people can mute their thoughts like hitting mute on a television. However, as with flexibility and balance, your ability to focus just on your yoga practice for the 60- or 90-minute class will improve too.
5) I can’t do yoga because I don’t know any of the poses.
New practitioners learn the poses through repetition during class and your teacher will help guide your body placement through cues and maybe even gentle assists. If your teacher is not demonstrating a pose, no one will fault you for taking a quick glance around the room to see how everyone else is moving. Totally confused? Flag over your teacher. Teachers are almost always excited to breakdown a pose and help their students really feel comfortable in their practice.
6) I can’t do yoga because I don’t know the language or what it means.
Just as we learned to speak our native language or learned a second language, you will learn the language of yoga. You may not know malasana from matsyasana at your first class, but that doesn’t matter. Like with poses, your teacher will often provide the English translation with the Sanskrit word. Over time, with practice and repetition, you will learn the English and Sanskrit terms and be familiar with the meanings. Soon, you’ll come to understand why everyone raves about savasana.
(In case you were wondering: Malasana = yogi squat; Matsayana = fish; Savasana = corpse)
7) I can’t do yoga because I am too muscular.
Adding yoga to your strength training regimen that got you so muscular may give your fitness an extra boost. Yoga can help lengthen the muscles that often feel “too tight” and help develop a lean physique. And again, if your toes seem too far away because all those deadlifts have your hamstrings strung tight, refer to the solution of props in response to number 1.
8) I can’t do yoga because it is not an intense enough work out.
There’s a yoga class for you to do that! If you’ve tried a restorative, yin or slow flow class, you may have been left wanting more. Try a number of different classes taught by a number of different teachers will help you find the right fit, right intensity and right sweat-inducing practice.
9) I can’t do yoga because I don’t like tight fitting clothes and don’t have a yoga mat.
While “yoga clothes” are often form-fitting, feel free to wear what is comfortable to you. Prefer sweatpants and a baggy t-shirt, that’s great! Just be sure what you wear still allows you to move freely (in other words, you may really be comfortable in jeans, but it prove difficult to do yoga in denim). Don’t have a mat or all the props, most studios have mats to rent and props to borrow. Unsure? You can always call ahead to double check.
10) I can’t do yoga because I’m don’t know what class to try or where I should go.
Searching for yoga in your town may leave you with a half dozen studios to choose from with varied offerings and time. This can be overwhelming if you have never tried yoga before. If you know someone who goes to a particular studio, maybe you pick their brain about what classes they like. Call or visit the studio to talk to the owner or teacher ahead of when you plan to take a class to get a vibe of the place or maybe help decide what class to take. Yoga teachers will be happy to help determine what might be a good fit. Every studio is different. Every teacher is different. If your first class didn’t feel great, try a different class, different teacher, or even different studio to find the right fit.
Emma Bouthillette discovered yoga as a supplement to her gym workouts in 2012, but by 2013 her gym visits lessened and so did her visits to the yoga studio. With encouragement from her mental health providers, Emma started practicing yoga at home in 2016 and found Samudra in the spring of 2017 when she signed up for a “mantra, movement, and meditation” workshop. It was love at first “om” and her practice flourished from there. As a writer with a digital marketing background, she writes for Samudra’s blog and newsletter. Emma completed her teacher training this past spring at Samudra’s first Fluid Yoga teacher training. When she’s not on the mat, Emma enjoys time with her corgi, Savvy, reading, and writing.