One look on Instagram and you’ll see hundreds of pretty photos of insanely fit people in impossible positions and think to yourself “Yoga? I can’t do that.”
Don’t let Instagram fool you. On a daily basis, yoga isn’t this serene, perfect routine. It’s a lot of hard work and a lot of sweat, but it’s incredibly rewarding and it’s not just for the impossibly fit, beautiful people. Yoga is for everyone, and it’s about finding the practice that works best for you.
Last year, I was trying to convince my mom to take one yoga class with me. We both wanted to start a healthy routine together and I knew she would love yoga (she was an insanely awesome gymnast in her teen years, so at the very least, I knew she was flexible). I found this adorable studio in Penngrove called Blue Door Yoga & Wellness, we signed up for our first class, and we begun our yoga journey.
We were both nervous at first – we had no idea what we were doing but we still put ourselves out there. And we are so glad we did. Blue Door is a small studio – which makes it incredibly warm and welcoming. Jesi, the owner who teaches as well, greets everyone personally and gets to know you really well. She introduces new students in the classes and helps everyone move at their own pace.
After taking Jesi’s hatha yoga class (here is a great explanation of the different types of yoga!) we tried out several different classes to see what we like. All the Blue Door teachers were friendly and welcoming. Currently, we are taking the weekly Core Stability class (part pilates, part yoga, heavy core workout) with Nicole, who is also an amazing instructor.
I’m not a yoga guru. In fact, I would still consider myself a beginner. But there are a few things I’ve learned in the past few months that have made me come to appreciate my yoga practice.
1. Go at your own pace – In every class, there will be students who are beginners, yoga veterans and people somewhere in between. Don’t be intimidated when the woman next to you can immediately go into eagle pose and you can’t seem to get your leg to cross the other. Take a deep breath, and just do the best you can.
2. No one is judging you – On of my biggest fears was the other students would see me struggling and judge me. It didn’t happen at all. Everyone has to start somewhere – and even the most advanced students remember what it’s like to struggle in the beginning. In fact, many of the students at Blue Door would give us both words of encouragement – letting us know that some poses get easier with time, and some are even difficult for the teachers!
3. Yoga benefits more than just your physical health – I started my yoga journey as a piece to my fitness and health plan, but I found so many more benefits. I struggle with an anxiety disorder and insomnia, and the days I go to my yoga practice (and practice at home) are the days I notice I feel better and I sleep better. On days where I was lazy or anxious and decided to skip class, I definitely saw a difference in my mindset and how I felt. You also learn breathing and meditation techniques that can help on chaotic days.
4. Yoga is about finding your own practice – Yoga isn’t a competition of who can fold and twist their body fastest or the most times. Yoga is about learning new ways to help your body and your mind, and how to implement those into your personal yoga practice. If you don’t want to do the crazy twists and turns, you don’t have to. Find what works best for you, your body and your practice.
Do you practice yoga? Let me know your tips in the comments!