Yoga for beginners

Yoga for beginners
General by Liz Eustace

For the past 20-plus years, I have taught yoga, taken yoga and worked in the yoga industry.

I’ve had thousands of conversations with yoga teachers and students alike and heard countless personal testimonials about the power of yoga. Which is why I felt both hopeful and somewhat somber to discover that, according to Yoga Journal’s 2012 “Yoga in America” study, 44.4 percent of Americans (or approximately 107 million people) consider themselves “aspirational yogis” — or people who are interested in trying yoga but have not yet made it onto a mat.
 
To me, this is a total miss.

Why are some of us privileged enough to have access to this transformative practice while others can’t seem to break through? Which is why I wrote the book, Frozen Yoga: A Concentrated Guide to Yoga.

On my yoga journey, I’ve met people who use the practice to cope with depression, mend broken bodies, awaken dormant spirits, calm anxious minds, ignite sexual desire — the list goes on. Yoga is such an incredible tool for healing and health, that everyone should have a fair shake at experiencing it.

I’ve found there are two primary myths that prevent people from starting and sustaining a yoga practice.

If you are an aspirational yogi or know one (or three), I would like to dispel these myths right here, right now:

Myth #1: I’m not flexible, so I can’t do yoga.

If you are breathing, you can do yoga. In essence, it’s the connection of the body and mind through the breath. I’ve practiced yoga forever and I’m not flexible. I attribute it to being five-foot-nine by age 12 and always wanting to be three inches shorter. There are days when I can’t get touch my toes and the furthest I can get is placing my hands on my upper (yes, upper) thighs as I do a forward fold. Those same days, I’ll do 90 minutes of yoga, and the tightness I feel in my body doesn’t stop me from reaping the awesome rewards of the practice.

Myth #2: I’m a total novice, I have no experience and I have no skills in the practice of yoga.

Seasoned veterans, gurus, and lifelong practitioners approach yoga with a beginner’s mind. Being curious, open, and present is key, whether you are taking your first yoga class or your hundredth. The foundation of this approach is that every day, your body and mind are different than they were the day before. As you move through the practice, it’s important to listen to your body to understand how it will interpret the pose, your breath, and your mental chatter — at that moment and on that day. It’s how we all move through the practice.
 
If aspirational yogis can get past these two hurdles, they may start to move beyond the barriers that have kept them from reaping the benefits of yoga.
 
And for those of us in the yoga game, just imagine 100 million more people on a yoga mat (and that’s just in the US) and what that could mean for profound and lasting healing in our communities, our country, and the world at large. Pretty cool.

About the Author

Liz Eustace

Present: Leadership coach, author, presenter, brand expert and momma of two!

Inspiration: my kiddies, laughter, countless yoga teachers, my creative hubby, my youthful mom & dad, my wacky sisters, kindness, my unpredictable brother, stillness and Prudence Bruns. 

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