Yoga is like an egg — a versatile ingredient — used for a variety of reasons. Some people use yoga to escape their mental chaos, to heal their emotional wounds or to improve their physical shape. Yoga has grown to be one of the leading exercises in America; however a big portion of the population is still skeptical or unconvinced that this recipe is to their liking.

So what’s keeping you away from yoga? Here are some of the most common excuses people use:

Flexibility

Often you will hear people say “I am not flexible enough,” and so yoga is out of the equation. Common complaints are that people cannot touch their toes and that their balance is off, thus standing on one leg or on their head is impossible. It is important to note that you don’t have to be flexible to do yoga. Yoga is designed to help you work on your flexibility, so you improve over time. There are many different styles of yoga, instructors and studios out there, so try a few and see who or what fits you best. Be careful with your body and listen to it. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how far you bend, you will still gain the benefits if you try.

Too slow

If you are an adrenaline junkie, yoga may seem a bit slow or even boring. These types of people are usually active, anxious and always thinking. If you are one of them, you need yoga to unplug and to sustain a balanced mental life without overheating, which happens with time. Maybe a yin class will drive you crazy, but take this opportunity to calm your mind and relax; the practice of stillness may serve you well if faced with challenging or unexpected situations.

Level of difficulty

This one is a tricky one. Beginners, often feel uncomfortable no matter the level of the class. This is normal, and especially true if the student ends up in an advanced group of students that are doing everything with ease. Instead of relaxing, the new student starts to feel as he/she is in a competitive environment and looking like everyone else becomes more important than working on the posture. People also feel out of place if they are encouraged to do and maintain a posture that they are unfamiliar with, which often may lead to injury. The key to improving your yoga practice is to accept and tolerate your body’s abilities, don’t worry what others have accomplished – it may have taken them years.

Language (Sanskrit)

Beginners may feel somewhat overwhelmed learning the physicality of the postures with their Sanskrit name, like Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog), Poorna-Salabhasana (Full Locust Post) or Utktasana (Chair pose). The lack of familiarity with both the Sanskrit language and the sequence overall, can intimidate new students and make them feel like they can’t keep up. Here’s the good news: with time you get used to it. In the meantime, don’t let the words scare you off, everyone was there once.

Heat

If you have tried hot yoga, then you know there are moments when you feel like an over-boiled egg. You can’t breathe and it feels like you are struggling to survive. In these moments, practitioners try to find a position to feel better, they drink water and look at themselves in the mirror in hopes of seeing their beet-red face disappear. Preparing for a hot yoga class is a little bit different than a regular class, since you lose a lot more water, so be cautious and make sure to speak with your instructor. For others, some studios are not hot enough, so find a studio, and a temperature, that works for you.

Teaching style

This is an important one – your teacher can either make you or break you. It isn’t just about having an experienced instructor who can lead a session and has memorized the dialogue. It is about the personality, professionalism and care that they bring to class that makes all the difference. Practitioners attend a yoga class not only to improve their physicality, but also to heal their old injuries and emotional scars. So having a compassionate teacher who shows care and understanding is crucial aspect of the student’s success. If you feel unhappy with your instructor, give them a second chance, but if it’s still a bad match, know that there are many instructors out there of different ages and ethnic backgrounds and varying levels of expertise. Don’t give up because of a few bad experiences.

Ultimately, finding the right studio, the right inductor and the right atmosphere can be a process. What is important is that you are dedicated to finding it while aiming to experience the full benefits of yoga for life. Conquering your fear of yoga may have been the one thing holding you back, so enjoy breaking free.

[Photo by Katie Weilbacher – CC BY]


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