Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
1. Everybody wins! Yoga class is kind of like a soccer tournament for kindergartners. You’re not supposed to keep score and everybody gets a trophy–even the kid who pouted the entire second half. If you show up to yoga class and make some attempt at breathing, moving, and being aware you’ll benefit–even if you fall out of Tree Pose or get your right and left feet mixed up.
2. Failing is an important part of the learning process. This practice is designed to frustrate you. That’s how you learn to relax in frustrating situations. You’re supposed to fall down! If the postures were always easy you’d never learn anything!
3. It’s not about the poses. It’s a lot more interesting to notice how your mind, breath, and energy level reacts to the pose. Those reactions will eventually give you amazing insights into who you are, your strengths and weaknesses as a person, and what you can do to make your situation better.
4. You are the only one who cares what you look like in Downward Facing Dog. Think about it: When you are in Down Dog are you thinking about what the person beside of you looks like in her new pants? Most people are more preoccupied with straightening their legs, lengthening their spines, or–depending on how hot the room is–just trying not to slip and fall on their faces.
5. Sometimes you’ll have to go it alone. Yoga teachers are great resources–but they don’t know everything either. Since yoga is a very individual practice, it’s different for everyone. Your teacher can only tell you what works for him or her–and that might be completely different from what will work for you. There are many lessons you’ll have to figure out on your own. So you’ll have to learn to trust your own intuition and pay attention to cues from your body, mind, and spirit.
On second thought, maybe I’m glad I had to learn all of these things the hard way . . .
Is there anything about yoga that you wish you had known as a beginning yoga student?