5 Excuses that Keep You Away from Yoga & Why You Can Let Them Go.
For those who feel as I once did, that beginning a yoga practice is intimidating, too challenging, not challenging enough, or an otherwise uncomfortable undertaking, I want to share some of my experience and knowledge, in the hopes that it might make yoga more approachable. I believe that yoga can offer healing, fitness, and fun for everybody, and I want to help you get there. I’ll start with the first line of resistance to starting a new physical practice: excuses.
I could write an entire book on yoga excuses, because I’ve tried almost all of them myself. Here are some of the ones I’ve tried—and the ones I most commonly hear as a teacher:
1. I’m not flexible.
This was my main cop-out excuse before I got into yoga. When I tried out Karen’s classes, I saw women move gracefully and easily into and out of yoga poses like natural ballerinas or synchronized swimmers. Meanwhile I looked like the Tin Man in downward dog; my joints practically squeaked out loud. I looked at the other students, who seemed to move so easily, and thought, I could never do that.
But it isn’t true. You don’t need to be flexible to do yoga. The magic of yoga is that no matter how flexible (or stiff) you are, you can still do a full yoga practice, build strength, increase mobility, and feel amazing afterward.
2. I’m too busy.
The crazier our lives feel, the more important it is to take time for ourselves. I know that endless to-do list all too well, and it can seem like taking time out for yoga will just make the day busier, or make it impossible to get it all done. But, paradoxically, the opposite is true. When I schedule yoga into my day, I find that I get more done, more efficiently. Yoga helps me focus my attention only on what’s important.
A ninety-day study in Germany looked at two groups of women. One group practiced yoga twice a week for ninety minutes; the other group maintained their normal activities. The women in the yoga group reported reductions in perceived stress, depression, anxiety, and fatigue, and improvements in energy levels and well-being. I find that time-wasters such as surfing the web or social media fall by the wayside when I’m more mindful and alert. There are many days when I feel completely overwhelmed, like I’m being pulled in every single direction, and on those days I sometimes consider skipping yoga. But after just thirty minutes of practice, it’s like I’ve hit a giant life-reset button. I feel relaxed, calm, and inspired. And I always ask myself, Why did you even consider skipping yoga?
3. I don’t look like a “yoga person.”
There is no yoga type. When I started teaching, I wondered if I needed to grow a beard, dress in all white, have a halo, and cover my wrists in mala beads to look the part. It’s open to all body types, all ages, and any clothes that you find comfortable. People who practice yoga come in all shapes and sizes and from all backgrounds, diets, skin colors, occupations, incomes, etc.
4. I have too many injuries.
Yoga is healthy and safe for every human; there are no contraindications. Many people who practice yoga have injuries. Every body is different, and we all have different injuries and weaknesses and strengths. There are ways to modify the poses so that your body has a chance to heal. If you have injuries or ailments, it can help to speak with an experienced yoga teacher to figure out which modifications are appropriate, or which poses you may need to avoid so as to protect sensitive or injured areas.
Today, there are many yoga teachers who are trained to work with specific health issues such as cancer, PTSD, Parkinson’s, and more. If you need this kind of specialized instruction, do some research to find a qualified teacher and talk to your doctor.
5. I’m intimidated by yoga studios.
Many of our students tell us this story about how scared they were the first time they came to one of our studios. I’ve never done it before. Everyone will look at me and laugh as I try to do a yoga pose. Or: I will suck at yoga. I’ll be the worst one in class. Or: I am afraid to try something new.
These fears are common and valid. Trying something—anything—new is scary! It’s important to acknowledge that you may feel intimidated walking into that first class, and that’s okay. You’re having a normal response to a new and unknown situation. But I’d encourage you to try a class despite that fear, because I’m pretty sure you’ll find that as soon as you walk in and get settled on your mat, it isn’t as scary as you thought.
Most yoga studios emphasize a non-judgmental community atmosphere. Most yoga studios have friendly and supportive environments. And you can socialize as much or as little as you wish. Most people are so focused on what they are doing in yoga that they have no time to even look around at others. It’s like all of life: we so often think people are sitting around criticizing us, when really they’re just worrying about themselves.
That said, I can’t vouch for every single yoga studio having the right supportive environment for every student. You need to find the right fit for you. If after checking out a studio you don’t feel comfortable, you can try another one. Plus there are countless options if a studio is not your thing. Look for yoga at community centers, parks, gyms, online, etc. There are hundreds of ways to make yoga a part of your life, and it’s just a matter of finding what works for you.