Things I wish I always knew about yoga

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Eventually the quality of your mat does matter. I preface that statement with eventually because the truth is if you are practicing once a month, the quality of your mat won’t matter much. And if you are like me you aren’t likely to shell out a ton of money for a once every so often used item. But, if you are practicing regularly your mat should be an investment. Think of all the times you plan on using it and then divide that hypothetical number by the cost of the mat. Seems reasonable now right?

If you put in the work on the basic poses, the harder ones will come to you. The more challenging poses aren’t inherently hard, especially if you are a regular practitioner. Sure they aren’t easy, but yoga is about stepping stones and once all of the bricks are in place the house will support you.

Associate breath with movement from the get-go. Learning how to link breath with movement shouldn’t be that difficult. But if you’ve been moving without breathing for a while, well then it’s like learning how to drive a stick when you have been driving an automatic for 10 years.

The goal of a yoga teacher is to get you out of the classroom and into a home practice of your own. You should be learning appropriate alignment in the classroom and eventually moving bey0nd the basics on your own. Obviously this takes commitment, continual practice, and time and not everyone reaches this point or desires an at home practice. But keep in mind that the best teacher is the one within.

What you eat, when you go to bed, and how much water you drink does show up on your mat. This is a lesson I am still learning. And some rules are meant to be broken from time to time. But keep this in mind when you step on the mat.

Skid-less towels are priceless.

A good yoga class is worth the money. I used to balk at the cost of some yoga classes, and on a college budget it seemed impossible to afford. But after committing time, money, and my physical body to becoming a yoga teacher I get it. Yoga is a service. Being a professional yoga teacher should be a decent career choice. And paying anything less than what yoga is worth is a disservice to you, the community, and the practice.

Yoga is more than physical activity, but it’s okay if that is what it means to you. When I started yoga it was for the purpose of physical activity. It took me a while to realize that the scope of yoga is far beyond the body, but I understand that for some people that is all that it will ever be. And that is beautiful and acceptable.

The person next to you is neither superhuman nor paying attention to your practice. The person who can stick their foot behind their head started somewhere, I promise. And chances are they are more concerned with their own practice and breath that they don’t care if you can stand on your head, do upward dog, or balance on your tongue.

You need not be flexible, strong, or balanced to practice yoga. If you are already perfect, you definitely don’t need yoga.

What things do you wish you always knew about yoga?

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “Things I wish I always knew about yoga

  1. I wish I knew how emotional it is. I didn’t cry that much the first couple of times in class, but all of a sudden while practicing at home to a podcast I started sobbing during a particularly challenging vinyasa sequence. It completely leveled me.

    Also, I wish I knew how much it took out of you at the BEGINNING of a yoga practice. At the beginning of a hard superflow, I feel like a badass. Eventually, however, the practice always humbles you.

    And the thing about eating, drinking, and sleeping is SO true. Everything you did that day shows up.

  2. Love this post.

    My favourite thing about yoga is that it is for everyone and that it really is about stepping stones.

  3. This is cool. I struggle with motivation to do yoga and I have an even harder time doing it on my own as opposed to a class. This is good food for thought for me.

  4. I love this list Kate! I still struggle a lot with connecting breathing with movement – it just doesn’t come naturally for me!

  5. I never knew how much it would help me quiet my thoughts. I’m someone who is ALWAYS thinking, and Yoga is the one place where I don’t think about anything else but Yoga. It’s absolutely refreshing.

    Yoga is amazing!!

  6. I really want to try hot yoga… I’m sure the mat definitely matters then! As well as one of those non-slip towels 🙂

  7. Pingback: The month of yoga | What Kate Ate

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