So you’ve got your yoga mat, your towel and your bottle of water, and you’re standing in the studio waiting for the teacher. Shifting from one foot to the other, smiling nervously at the other women as you eye them up and down and pull your t-shirt self-consciously over your midriff awaiting the start of your first yoga class.
How strange it is that a practice that is all about LETTING GO should at first reduce so many of us to self-conscious, embarrassed and uncomfortable bundles of insecurity. Why the awkwardness? Why the unease? If you are here for YOGA and to want to reap the many benefits that it has to offer, then the key is letting go!
Here are the top three things that we recommend you let go of in order to get the most from your yoga practice:
- Perfection: Let go of it now! It’s ridiculous. You will never achieve perfection. The beauty of yoga is that it’s a life-long practice and every single day you can (and will) improve. Stop criticising yourself, your wobbly tummy, your stiff back. The more you are reprimanding yourself, the more tense and stressed you will become and the less able you are to breathe into your positions and relax into your poses. So what if your underpants are riding up above your waistband? Just breathe deeply into your downward dog and feel the energy flowing through you and know that no one is looking and no one else cares. Why? Because everyone else is doing pretty much the same thing as you are – concentrating on his or her own practice.
Comparing is another big no no! So what if the girl in front is slimmer, younger, more toned and supple? This is YOUR PRACTICE, your journey, your yoga. We are all so different, varied and diverse, and each of our bodies is our own beautiful instrument. Listen to your body, it knows best, coax it, feel it, breathe through it, reach deeper, grow stronger. This is not a competition. No one is judging who can touch their toes or who can lift their leg the highest; this is a personal journey of discovery and self-awareness. The only person you are competing against is who you were yesterday.
- Your ‘to do’ list
Yes, you know what I’m talking about…“What do I need to pick up from the supermarket on my way home? How much work have I got on tomorrow? What shall I make the children for dinner? Have I paid my phone bill?” This frantic list making and jumble of thoughts spinning round and around your head like a washing machine is perfectly normal in a yoga class and happens to all of us. After all, we rush around from home and school and work each day, going from engagements, meetings, tasks and chores and rarely do we actually stop to sit and think, so the temptation is to collect our thoughts and make mental notes during the calm and quiet of yoga. But no! Banish these thoughts from your mind. Concentrate on the here and now. Focus on your breathing, your positioning, listen to your body and tune in to its signals. If you are worrying about either the past or the future you are not where you should be – in the present. Yoga affords you that wonderful moment in time where you are completely aware and mindful.
From anxiety about body image or uncertainty about your abilities to stresses and strains of everyday life that are weighing on your mind, the only way to allow yoga to work for you is to LET GO and embrace.
Lori is a certified in various yoga traditions and influences. She is the founder of Radiant Yoga in Marbella, Spain and holds regular classes, workshops and retreats throughout Europe and India. Radiant Yoga Marbella offers Hot Yoga classes and all types and levels of Yoga for all ages including Workshops, Trainings and Massage Therapy. Contact her at www.yoga-in-marbella.net, [email protected]