As a yoga blogger, yoga junkie, and occasional instructor to fearless friends, I’ve had many conversations with yoga enthusiasts and aspiring yogis. Some have discovered, as I have, that yoga is a game-changer, as it helps us gain confidence, personal power, internal peace, and a life that feels bold and inspiring. But for those who are new to the practice, beginning yoga classes in a studio can be intimidating. While yoga pros are rockin’ their asanas, yoga beginners may be struggling to maintain balance, keep their feet on the mat and their heads in the game. Awkward? Yes! But these growing pains should not hinder you from enjoying your yoga class and delving more deeply into the wonderful world of yoga. With that in mind, I’ve asked a local studio owner and long-time professional yoga instructor to answer some common questions. Here’s what Jen King has to say about kicking your yoga class intimidation…
How to Kick Your Yoga Class Intimidation
Some yoga beginners have tried a studio class or two and decided it wasn’t right for them. But later, those same individuals gave it another shot and realized their first experience was poor simply because of the studio or class. What would you say to anyone looking for the right fit in terms of yoga classes?
“Keep in mind, there are many different styles of yoga. You must experience a few types to see what fits you. I sampled many styles including Hatha, Ashtanga, and Bikram. Then I met Baron Baptiste and the Vinyasa Flow. It was just what I was looking for!”
Balance is something we learn through our asanas. Inexperienced yogis tend to feel embarrassed and awkward when practicing new postures in a studio setting. How do you suggest these newbies overcome their intimidation?
“Yoga is not about appearances. It’s about how you feel. You don’t need to try so hard. Allow more ease to the effort. We do not use mirrors in my class, as they may distract the students. They get out of their heads and into their bodies. Shift from thinking and processing to feeling and breathing. There is no judgement or expectation in yoga. You just go with the flow and see what happens. Let go and let be.”
I started my yoga journey way back when VHS videos were an option for yoga home practice. Later, I found that studio classes added a whole other dimension and allowed me to branch out and learn new things. When I finally stepped into a yoga studio, I was experienced enough to perform poses without stumbling (much). Do you think it’s a good idea to begin this way? Or is it better to have a teacher guide you before transitioning to a yoga home practice?
“Home Practice vs. studio practice…either way, just as long as you practice! Home is good for convenience and solitude. There are several great podcasts that allow you to try a variety of yoga styles. In the studio there is more personal instruction and hands-on assisting. Students also enjoy a sense of community, being part of something bigger than themselves.”
What would you say is the best habit a new yoga practitioner can form to aid their practice?
“The best habit is to practice everyday. Even if it’s just 5-10 minutes. Every time you step on the mat, you learn something about yourself: fear, doubt, trust, anger, impatience, joy– the list is endless.”
What are your thoughts on performing advanced yoga poses that require tremendous strength and flexibility? Some yogis fear falling or injuring themselves, but I’ve found that attempting any pose with fear only makes me more prone to falling and becoming injured. In your opinion, what’s the best way to work into difficult poses?
“Advanced poses require patience. I recommend students practice at their own level and be OK with where they are. We are all about the final destination…it’s more about the journey. Take the time to enjoy the process. Fear is a big issue that holds us back. Take your time, make baby steps, use modifications and blocks to assist in the process. Everyone wants to jump right in…SLOW DOWN!”
Final thoughts from Jen:
Two of the most common complaints from those beginning a yoga practice are flexibility (or lack of) and the inability to sit in stillness. Here’s how to overcome those perceived obstacles:
“Remember you do not need to be flexible, start where you are and grow from there. As you get stronger, you naturally become more flexible.”
As for sitting still in yoga class:
“Try a Vinyasa flow. You do not sit still! Sitting for longer periods of time are more of a meditative yoga.”
About Jen King
Jen has been a part of the fitness industry for the past 30 years, achieving several certifications in personal training including, National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), American Council of Exercise (ACE),and STOTT Pilates. In 2007, Jen attended an all-day immersion with world renowned yoga master, Baron Baptiste, where she found her passion! She then completed her ERYT 200 hour Yoga Certification and also became a Yoga Alliance Nationally Registered Teacher. Find her online, or in her studio: Power Yoga Ocala.