Give yoga a serious try (if you take yourself seriously)

I have taught yoga full time and to an uncountable number of people for more than 12 years. It has led me to the insight that, if you are new to yoga and would really like to understand if yoga is suitable for you, you’d have to give it a serious try.

New to yoga – one class for trial?

Attending one class only for a trial won’t give you that understanding. Attending at least 3 to 4 classes will give you a glimpse of it. A couple of weeks of regular yoga practice by joining at least one class per week will surely bring you insights and experience. By then you might come to the conclusion that you can learn about how to make yoga suitable for you. Once you commit to it, doors will open to explore body, mind, your tendencies of likes and dislikes and how much your personality reflects in your posture practice. You will learn to recognize that awareness is part of an efficient yoga practice.

A first class is overwhelming for most people. You enter a new space and will share it with complete strangers around you, won’t be familiar with the teacher and will be confronted with a class context that is unknown to and most likely challenging for you. It will be especially challenging for everyone who has a hard time to translate verbal clues into physical actions: extend your right arm alongside your ear while keeping your shoulder completely relaxed. Right – arm – ear – shoulder. Extend – relaxed.

As you can read, there’s a lot to think of when being taught the practice of yoga from the body. Without the openness to learn to translate verbal clues into physical actions you will completely rely on copying what the teacher is doing. The visible input will be translated by your brain and you will find it harder to learn to translate the verbal clues. In doing so, your inner eyes will need a longer time to open en reveal your inner world to you.

No, it needs a bit more than one class for trial…

In a second class you will surely recognize some movements, postures and instructions from the first class. You might enjoy your body more when bending forward, backward, twist and explore movements you are not familiar with, yet. Your mind might start to relax and your body might eventually follow. You might get a vague idea of what real yoga can be about and if it appeals to you. And you might then dare to conclude if you will benefit from the exploration of yoga in future classes. Once you commit to more time on the yoga mat, your yoga journey can really take off.

‘Doing yoga’ vs. an authentic experience

A widespread idea, including its promotion by the media, is that yoga is something that you ‘do’ by stepping on a mat and simply placing your body into a variety of shapes. Nothing is further away from an authentic experience that arises from the deep self-inquiry that yoga is about. It is hard to put it into words what the practice of yoga can bring about. It is a very personal experience and therefore unique. It depends on the uniqueness of each single practice, the attitude you bring to the yoga mat and the openness you apply to your actions that result in postures and flow, strength and release, softness and the interaction with gravity. It is beyond our imagination; its impact is transforming (us) over the years and so does its healing power.