guest post: getting started in yoga.

by Janetha on July 20, 2012

in guest posts

hey, guys! i am happy to introduce bria as today’s guest poster. bria and i have chatted over the interwebs for quite some time now. she is very knowledgeable in all things yoga, and has offered to share some information today. i hope you enjoy reading them!

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Hey, everyone. My name is Bria, and I’m a Yoga instructor based in New York City. I’ve been reading Janetha’s awesome blog for awhile now, and am super psyched at the chance to guest post here. Thanks, Janetha! Today I’ll be talking about getting started (and keeping going), in Yoga.

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As a Yoga instructor who teaches many classes in the gym setting, I interact with Yoga newbies almost daily. We’re talking about the types of people who would most likely never wander into a Yoga studio on their own. I love this about my job! Many of these people have, over time, become my regular students. It’s been amazing to see them grow and develop, on the mat and in their lives.

I often chat with folks who want to try my class. I see them peek in at what we’re up to from, say, the weight room or the treadmill. Often, I can see they are intimidated, even scared to join in. Intimidated, but intrigued.

Indeed, it seems that these days, everyone is curious about Yoga, which is a good thing (clearly I’m biased here, but hey, there are tons of benefits.)

But as we all know, sometimes finding (and keeping) the motivation to try something new can be a huge challenge. Allow me to debunk a few Yoga myths I hear often, and to offer some motivation tips.

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Myth Number One: Yoga is only for flexible people, and I’m not flexible!

Yes, Yoga does improve flexibility, but it does not require flexibility. In fact, the inflexible often see the greatest gains from Yoga. Besides, if you aren’t so limber, how are you going to limber up by not stretching? Uh, hello! That would be like me thinking I could get strong or cardiovascularly fit by avoiding cardio and strength training. (For the record, yes, I DO cross-train).

Yoga not only improves flexibility, but it strengthens, tones, improves coordination and balance. It improves propriorecption, and calms us down. Yoga also offers us a smooth, refreshing boost of energy and clarity of mind.

Myth Number Two: I tried Yoga once or twice, and didn’t like it. So it’s not for me. Ever.

A little secret: When I first tried Yoga, I was bored and not really feeling it. But I knew it was good for me, and I felt relaxed afterwards. I stayed curious and circled back to it until I found a teacher and style of Yoga that resonated with me at that stage in my life.

Now I’m not going to say that Yoga IS for everyone. But I truly believe there is a type of Yoga out there for most of us. What rocks your best friend or boyfriend’s world might leave you cold. (Or overheated, in the case of hot Yoga….hot Yoga isn’t for everyone. But that’s a whole ‘nother post topic!) So try different teachers, other class types, a different studio. Search around until something resonates. Take a beginner’s class or set of classes if that is offered in your area. Focus on the benefits.That’s what I did back in the day, and it was literally a life-changer.

Myth Number Three: But I don’t have time.

Ahhhh, the “t word.” Can you commit to one class a week? Can you take some of what you learn in the class and incorporate it into your other workouts and day-to-day life? For example, try stretching out between sets in the weight room rather than just wandering around. Do a few breaths in downward dog after a run. At your desk, stretch a bit throughout your workday. Breathe deeply as you lie in bed at night to help you find a restful sleep. Meditate for two minutes in the morning to set a positive tone for your day. Wow, you just did Yoga!

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Myth Number Four: But I’m not good at it. Or I’m afraid I won’t be good at it.

Oooohh, this has got to be one of my favorites! (As you can see, it’s variation of some of the above concerns). A lot of guys struggle with this. Hello, male ego, anyone?

Simply put: Not being good at something can actually be fun. It’s a chance to be a student again, to perhaps defy your expectations, and to face your fears. We truly grow in life when we allow ourselves to face up to things that intimidate us. And trust me, most people in Yoga are too focused on their own practice to really get all up in your biz if you’re struggling. Odds are, you

To me, the most intriguing parts of my personal Yoga practice are poses that I cannot do well, the side of my body that isn’t as limber, and calming my mind during meditation. In other words, the places where I struggle.

Mistakes are a part of life, and we all make mistakes. Allow yourself room for mistakes and detours, because these are often the places where true creativity and breakthroughs emerge.

Give yourself the chance to amaze yourself. The things we discover on the Yoga mat can lead to big discoveries in our lives. What once seemed impossible can become merely challenging. Truly. I’ve experienced it firsthand, and so can you, one breath at a time.

Myth Number 5: But other people are sooooo much better at it.

Well, this isn’t such a myth because, sometimes, yes, they are damn good. Chances are, they have been practicing Yoga for a long time, or have some sort of other movement experience or yeah, natural talent, that makes things look easeful for them.
Let them inspire and motivate you, not intimidate you. Guarantee you they struggle with something in Yoga. Trust me on this.

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Motivation Tips:

1. Focus on the benefits, in the good feeling Yoga gives you.

2. Let go of the all or nothing mentality. A pose a day and a few mindful breaths a day is a great start. Really!

3. My mentor always says, “progress not perfection.” I love this mantra.

4. It helps to remember it’s just a class, not a competition.

5. Remember that things change, and that it’s okay. Certain poses get easier over time. Others might become more challenging. Your mind might be calmer one day than the next. This is all part of the process, and a great chance to learn about your own body and mind connection.

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Thanks for reading, and if you want to visit me, I blog about food, Yoga, and randomness at WestofPersia.com . My Yoga site is BriaYoga.com Feel free to reach out to me with any questions, or to come take a class if you’re in NYC,. Jump into one of my workshops or retreats if you’d like. It was fun sharing with you all!

Thanks for reading, and thanks again, lovely Janetha, for the opportunity to guest post.

Namaste,

Bria

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Katie @ Talk Less, Say More July 20, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Love this! I absolutely love yoga but staying motivated with my practice has proven more challenging than I expect it to. Thankfully I have never regretted a practice and I’m often reminded of the benefit of even 20 mins of yoga has on my mind and body. :)

Bria @ West of Persia July 24, 2012 at 11:56 am

You’re onto something with the 20-minute thing, Katie. Honestly, even a minute here and there can do us all some good. Something is better than nothing, right?

Sherry July 21, 2012 at 6:45 am

Thank you for the post! So ironic the timing of it for myself. I’ve tried yoga here and there the past 3 years but the past 2 weeks I’ve started to get more serious about my practice. I really want to soley focus on yoga but I am not sure if I should stop my other forms of exercise/strength training. I need to find a good balance with yoga and other activities I enjoy doing.

Bria @ West of Persia July 24, 2012 at 11:58 am

Perfect timing! I say def keep going with the other fitness activities, and incorporate the Yoga in starting with, say, one class a week. The cross-training of the other forms of exercise will help you out in Yoga, and the Yoga will help you out with your other activities and with relaxing. Good luck!

Meg July 21, 2012 at 8:22 am

Love the post!! I have tried yoga at my gym and felt that particular class was incredibly boring like you said. But then I went and tried bikram and loved it but haven’t been back. Thanks for your motivational tips! I am always intimidated by the skill of the other attendees … I will have to start following your mentor’s mantra: “progress not perfection” :)

Bria @ West of Persia July 24, 2012 at 11:59 am

“Progress not perfection” is such a helpful quote. I remind myself of this mantra ALL the time.

Ashley @ Coffee Cake and Cardio July 21, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Thank you for this post. It was wonderful!!

Bria @ West of Persia July 24, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Thank, Ashley. Glad you enjoyed!

Corrie Anne July 21, 2012 at 2:58 pm

You definitely hit some of the common myths. I’ve done quite a bit of yoga from dvds, but I get scared to go into a class. At my old gym, it was so dark and you could never spy on what was going on in there. So I never went!! But I definitely love the way I feel when I’ve consistently practiced yoga with dvd so I know it would be even better if I found the right class!!

Bria @ West of Persia July 24, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Hey Carrie Ann! My consistent practice began with TV and DVD Yoga, too. Was totally great for me at the time. When I finally made it to classes, I made great leaps. So yes, the right class with the right teacher can make a huge difference. They can correct your technique and help take you to places you didn’t know your body (and mind) could go. Again, try different teachers and class formats until you find something that resonates. :-)

Momma b July 21, 2012 at 8:04 pm

You make Yoga sound wonderful! I’ve done a few classes years ago and more recently Bikram which I loved!
Thanks for sharing so many great tips!

You are beautiful, strong and coordinated!

xo

Bria @ West of Persia July 24, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Wow, thanks, Momma b! I am honored, as I’m a big fan of yours thanks to Janetha’s blog :-) Xoxo!

RainStorm July 24, 2012 at 2:59 am

I feel very similar about my ballet classes – I’m not very flexible (but ballet works on this), I’m not as good as others (but enjoy being a student and learning) and I am definitely making time for it! My main teacher likes to include yoga and Pilates poses at the end of a class. Who knew the two were so similar?! :)

Bria @ West of Persia July 24, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Oh yesss, Yoga and Pilates are popular with ballet types. Personally, I love ballet. It was the first “group fitness” type of thing I was into, as a kiddo. Great memories! Your current class sounds fun.

Janetha July 29, 2012 at 1:39 pm

I have to say, yoga is scary to me. I have only done Bikram, but want to try some other kinds. I did buy a groupon to a yoga studio that offers several types, I just haven’t used it yet. Thanks for this post and the motivation! You look amazing and you are a wonderful person! Thanks for the post!

Courtney July 29, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Hmm. I’m still undecided about yoga. If I’m going to work out, I’d rather spend time burning calories by cardio or strength training. I have other ways of clearing my mind and relaxing (reading a good book, etc). I think I’d be more sold on yoga if I could replace my strength training with it and still have the same results, but I know that’s not the case. :)

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