Here are some tips to help with a five yoga related worries!
Yoga is something lots of people want to try – to improve their flexibility, to feel more relaxed or just because they are curious. Some come to Iyengar yoga because they have heard that they will be taught how to do the poses (Asana) and are keen to learn more.
Over the years we have had lots of questions from people who really want to start yoga but still feel uncertain about it. Here are the some tips to help with the most common worries people have.
4. I’m a bit worried about my <back problem, knee pain, sore wrist> etc
You should always remind your teacher of any medical conditions or injuries you have at the beginning of any class. If your teacher is aware of your issues they may be able to incorporate poses into the class that will help improve the issue and they may ensure that you practice some poses in a modified way so as not to aggravate problems.
You should also take responsibility for your self. Generally if you feel a sharp pain in a pose (whether you have an injury or not), you should come out of the pose and let the teacher know. In Iyengar yoga the teachers are taught how to help you adjust and use props to help with issues you might have.
5. What if I fall asleep in Savasana?
This sort of question is about related to people’s worries about being embarrassed … being worse that everyone else, not being able to balance and so on.
So yoga really isn’t a competition. You should try the best you can at that time but your experience is your own. Everyone will struggle with some things and find others easier.
Savasana (corpse pose) is the ‘relaxation’ pose at the end of class. If you have worked hard during the class, when you settle into this pose there can be a real sense of ‘letting go’ of physical and mental tension. Lying on the floor feels completely restful and there is a sense of peace. Sometimes, and it happens to all of us sometimes, you fall asleep. Although ideally you stay awake and aware of this peaceful feeling it really doesn’t matter to anyone if you do drift into sleep for a few moments.
1. I’m quite stiff – maybe I’m just not flexible enough for yoga
In fact not being flexible is an excellent reason to start yoga! You are going to be practicing a whole range of poses that will improve your flexibility and also your muscle health and (there’s more!) make your organs, blood circulation and breathing all healthier!
In Iyengar yoga we talk about mobility and stability. Becoming mobile (rather than ‘fixed’) is something you will gradually work on in yoga and you will also learn how to hold poses in a stable way. It’s really a balancing of strength and flexibility – both are developed.
2. I don’t know how to do any of the poses
Go to your first class with an open mind, ready to learn. In an Iyengar yoga class you will be taught how to do the poses and it may feel challenging. You will be moving your body in ways you may have not moved it before and definitely learning something new.
I remember the frustration of not being able to do poses early on and my teacher told me ‘you have to learn to love the process’. What she meant was that you may never achieve a perfect pose but, as I learnt gradually, the benefits for body and mind that are part of yoga come from ongoing practice with focused awareness (that’s the process). Being naturally ‘good’ at poses is not the thing that brings those yoga benefits.
3. I really don’t think I will be any good at the poses
See the answer to the question above … but also trust that if you practice you will improve. Be aware of where you start and appreciate the gradual improvement that comes with regular practice. To get started on this journey I recommend making a personal commitment to doing classes for a reasonable amount of time – say six weeks – giving a chance for improvements to start to happen in your body… and appreciate them.