I’m what you could call a new born yogi: I started yoga 18 months ago, at 26. I hadn’t been practicing any sport for a few years, I was feeling tired all the time, and, to be honest, my self-esteem wasn’t through the roof. I used to do my fair share of sport as a kid, but I ended up completely stopping when I when to college and then started working. By then, the only solution I had to exercise a little was either jogging or subscribing to a gym. Neither options sounded appealing to me, and I had a ton of excuses not to choose either. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
I needed something soft, gentle, accessible and flexible in terms of schedule. On January 1st, 2016, I had made my decision; it would be yoga.
I wanted to craft my practice as I wanted and discover the discipline on my own rhythm and terms. I thus chose to practice at home first. I subscribed to an online platform with great videos made by amazing yoga teachers, bought a cheap mat, and started practicing by slots of 15 minutes, a couple of times a week.
Make no mistake, it was difficult at first. I was as flexible as a Kitkat, my body was hurting all over, and, as a very impatient person, I was frustrated not to see drastic changes within 3 weeks. I wanted to do handstands, splits and backbends. The reality was I couldn’t hold my downward facing dog for more than 2 breaths.
I worked on my humility to acknowledge it was going to take some time. It also took some mistakes, like the time I almost broke my back trying to do a tripod while completely unprepared.
After a couple of months, I invested in a better mat. I learnt to listen to my body and respect it. From 15-minute practices, I went to 30 minutes. From a couple of times a week, I went to practice 5 or 6 times. It took me 8 months to be comfortable with my progress and go a to real class, with other people. That’s when I realized how far I had gone. I now mix real classes and home practice, plus extra workshops once in a while.
If you’re thinking about taking yoga and are, like I was, in the no man’s land of exercise, here are a few tips from a non-expert:
1. If you choose home practice, carefully curate your videos
Choose professional content, with talented teachers who will properly guide you in and out of poses and tell you what to pay attention to.
2. Make it a habit:
At first, choose time slots you know you’ll be free (for me it’s in the morning before work) and schedule your practice on one week. It really takes motivation and discipline to practice at home, and scheduling in a formal way your practice helps a lot. After a while, it won’t be necessary anymore!
3. This one might sound cheesy, but pick nice outfits.
Don’t practice in your old pajamas or worn off legging. I was highly critical of the whole sportswear trend, but I must admit that feeling sexy/beautiful/cute in what you wear is a real source of motivation to practice.
4. Be patient.
You won’t become a yogi master in 3 weeks. It might take months before you actually see results. However, you’ll feel changes pretty quickly, flexibility wise, as well as in your strength, and, most important, self-confidence. So trust the process, respect your body, and, really, just breathe.