Yoga is one of those amazing practices that truly makes so many parts of our lives better. It’s a moving meditation we know is “good for us” but so many of us cannot commit to. I’ve heard every complaint in the book, and many I’ve felt myself — from I get bored in yoga, to it’s harder than I thought, to I’m not flexible, yoga isn’t for me (or my gender, or my body type) to it’s too spiritual, to it’s not spiritual enough to disliking the class attendees, to disliking the music, the studio, etc. — and the list goes on.
I think yoga, at its most basic is about breathing. If you can breathe, you are doing yoga.
These are all valid reasons a yoga class might not have felt right for you, but let’s break down why these might have happened. The work I started with TrillYoga in 2014 was to break down stigmas and stereotypes in yoga and show that it was a healing, transformative practice that is viable to everyone to come to, as they are, and as they like. I think yoga, at its most basic is about breathing. If you can breathe, you are doing yoga.
Often yoga is seen as a privileged Westernized practice for the flexible, but true yoga is a way to get back to our most authentic self. It consists of many different qualities for living — past just asana (the poses you see) or pranayama (the breathing techniques used in practice). Yoga teaches us to be in the present moment.
I understand why this practice can feel off-putting. Yoga has become an all too often homogeneous space that veers heavily from traditional teachings and such images are perpetrated by the media. It can also feel wholly unfamiliar with poses, positions and ways of being present we have not experienced before and a range of personalities populating the space.
READ MORE: 7 Ways to Practice Mindfulness That Aren’t Meditation
This is all to say, yoga might not be your thing and it’s OK. I’m a huge believer in making wellness and the practices or activities you engage in your own. I also don’t think we should force ourselves to do things that simply make us unhappy.
However, I would say, give yoga a chance.
It might take trying different studios or styles, but yoga is a practice where we live our way into the answers. Keep showing up. Working through the day’s class can be hard; explore what frustrations come up. Oftentimes, what we experience on the mat is a mirror for what we experience in our lives outside of yoga.
Yoga and other forms of mindful movement support a host of health benefits including stress reduction, better sleep, increasing muscle tone and strength, improving flexibility and mobility, improving our breath quality and ability to regulate our heart rate and calm ourselves through breathing. It also increases personal power and self-awareness, improves your attention and focus, can help you learn to see your body in a more organic light, and can create a more calm and balanced feeling in your life.