I walked into my first yoga class over 10 years ago with feelings of uneasiness and with expectations. Generally I wanted to look like the fierce females I was seeing all over the internet and especially I wanted arms like Jennifer Aniston. She does yoga; she looks great.
I must confess I was already intimidated walking into that class. Being a lifestyle magazine editor I had reported on and seen my fair share of women at the top of their practice; the mere thought of being able to achieve some of the poses they do daunted me. So this was all in my head walking into that first class.
While the instructor cordially acknowledged new students that was all the “primer” we received. This was an intermediate class so the instructor assumes you already have some background, I would later learn. At least I kept my ego in check enough not to choose a fast-flow class, but as we got past the warm-up poses, I began to wonder if what I was doing was right. I awkwardly tried to look aside and in front of me for guidance. Was I wobbling as much as the other newbies? To me this was like the feeling of jumping to get on a merry-go-round that was already in motion. Meanwhile, some of my fellow classmates were making quick work of employing the blocks we were told to take as we entered the room, to assist in the proper execution of the forward folds and other poses.
Determined not to convey my beginner’s status, I chose to follow the lead of the other class newbies who were not using the blocks. I proceeded doing the rest of the class to the best of my ability, feeling unstable, unsettled and at times in pain.
I did not think that Jennifer Aniston felt like that after her first class. Nor did I think I would ever look like Jennifer. I struggled through the rest of my three-class pass pretty much the same way. I did not want to be a quitter and not finish what I had paid for. However, I was a quitter because after those three classes I never went back.
Thank goodness years later a skilled teacher provided me with a solid redirect on that experience. What I didn’t realize about yoga practice back then was how much it had to do with the mind as well as the body. Not only was my mind not in the right place back then, I allowed my self-doubt to dictate how I approached those classes.
I didn’t understand that to be authentic in my practice, my mind would require training, as well—training that would help me accept that I did need the support from the blocks because at that point I simply could not do it on my own. Full stop.
If I had known how and when to use the props, I most likely would have had a much better experience in that first class. I would not have been in pain. If I would have focused on my alignment and how my body felt, rather than how I looked, I probably would have had a much better class experience. Who knows? I might have continued on with my practice and be somewhat closer to those toned arms I wanted so badly. I know better now.
My more recent practice has clearly been enhanced with the understanding of what each prop is and how to use it. You can find this valuable info, too, in our new GloSeries Yoga video.
So now I have a second shot at this and I can happily report that I have removed the block from my brain —now I am reaching out for support—the support of the blocks located conveniently next to my mat.
Is your inner voice one of self-acceptance and gratitude, or do you struggle with thoughts and behaviors that hold you back? Let’s take this practice off the mat and to our forum for further discussion.