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Meet Yourself Exactly Where You Are

In discussing what I do outside my classes, I often heard people tell me they need to lose weight or get in shape before attempting a yoga class. Others tell me they're not flexible enough. "I can't even touch my toes!", I sometimes hear. "Anyways, I don't look good in yoga clothes", is something I've also heard. There seems to a decent amount of anxiety towards trying for the first time or starting again with yoga.

Should you try to "get in shape" before attempting yoga? Buy new clothes or a new mat? Get props- block, straps, bolsters ? Must you put your foot over your head? Wait until your fingers grace your toes? My definitive answer is, no! Don't wait. If you have a sincere desire to do it, then go for it right away. No matter what you think of yourself and your body and its condition, you can start yoga now. You don't even have to physically move to start yoga. Many people think yoga is just about flexibility and balance, strength and breathing. But, it's actually SO much more. The physical part of the practice is most often what we see and think yoga is. Though, it's just a piece of the whole that makes yoga, yoga. Even the practice of seeing your thoughts, being with your emotions, noticing your 5 senses and your breath rise and fall. This is all a part of the yogic path. At the heart of the Yoga Sutras, we learn that "Yoga is the quieting of the fluctuations of the mind." - Sutra 1.2. That's it. There's nothing in that statement about being thin or flexible or fitting into yoga pants. And, there are many ways of endeavoring towards that goal.

What I often recommend, is that no matter what thoughts you have or preconceptions about what you need to "do" to ready yourself for yoga, it really doesn't matter. We all have a story playing in our heads. We all have ideas and feelings about our bodies on different days. And, still every body in its current form can be a yoga body.

I personally had this experience while being pregnancy and after giving birth (twice). I had ideas of what I should be doing or what my body should look like to start teaching again or how I should feel. And, it was all an interesting look inward at the stories playing in my head. The thoughts and feelings I had about my body when it felt so stiff after giving birth and even many months into recovery was really interesting. What I eventually came to was grace and compassion for myself. This journey of yoga practice isn't about how many times you roll out your mat each week or how many sun salutations you can do in 1 hour. It's the subtle combined with the gross efforts to see ourselves and be present, consciously throughout any given day. It's much more than I can even put into words.

Do yourself a favor and don't wait. Start exactly where you are. Honestly, openly, with curiosity and non-judgement. Meet yourself exactly where you are.

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