"Oh, I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible."
"It’s been years since I’ve done anything physical, I’d fall over, and take everyone else down with me."
"Yoga? —but I’m not one of those tiny girls on instagram"
Do any of the above sound familiar? All the above are examples (to name only a few!) of limiting (and most frequently, unjustified and false) beliefs that stop many of us from getting into yoga. But it certainly shouldn’t be that way!
Yoga is for everyone, anywhere, and any time. If you’re worried that you don’t have the ‘yoga body’, well then believe us that if you:
🅰️ have a body
🅱️ want to do yoga
Then you have a yoga body!
Yoga is not, in essence, a physical practice, and this is something that not many people are aware of when they first start out. In fact, you can do yoga even in your mind if you want to, which is what makes it so accessible to all bodies. No matter what your size or physical condition: let us set the record straight: yoga is 100% there for you!
So let’s dive deeper into that…
Yoga is a practice that comes in many forms, and goes beyond the physical practice of yoga poses, or asana. The point of yoga is not to stick your foot behind your head, or to have someplace to wear cute Lululemon gear.
The goal of yoga is to connect the mind, breath, body and soul to build a relationship with our true (higher) selves; the point of yoga is to reconnect you to the deepest part of you—to rediscover who you are, and then carry that out into the world, in the service of others. And this action of being alone in our bodies with a quiet mind has a positive impact on our health and happiness.
So why do we associate yoga with physical movement?
Well, these days yoga often gets reduced to an exercise, a slot at the gym, or a quick sweaty workout. But it is so much more than that.
Yoga is an 8 limbed practice, that includes meditation, breath work, mindset techniques, ethics and principles, amongst other practices. Asana (the physical practice we often associate with yoga) is just one of these 8 limbs, and was only ever intended to be practiced in balance and alignment with the other 8 limbs.
When practiced together, the 8 limbs of yoga act as keys that unlock the layers and allow us to adventure into the hidden depths of our mind, body and soul. Funnily enough, it is the deep exploration, understanding, shedding and rebuilding of our inner world that allows us to truly relish in the most simple details of the outside world.
For many people, however, asana is a gateway into the other 8 limbs. It has a wide appeal due to its physical nature, but once people begin with asana, they often become interested in learning more about the spiritual tools that yoga has to offer.
If you’re starting out at yoga, or trying to get a close friend or family member to start out, asana can be a good place to start. A good yoga teacher will also make sure to introduce the other limbs of yoga into the asana class, often offering tips and techniques for meditation, breath work, and mindset that can be practiced outside of class.
Essentially, you don’t need anything to get started on your yoga journey, just a willingness to learn! But if you or a loved one is starting out at yoga from home for the first time, there are a few things that might be helpful:
The yogi Christmas list
Depending on the surface you’re practicing on, you might’ve noticed the need for a proper, non slippery yoga mat. In ancient times, yogis practiced on mats to create a barrier between the spiritual body and the energy of the earth. This may all feel a bit too woo woo for the modern day yogi, but there’s something to be said for having a non-stick matt beneath your feet to help you ground yourself, and provide some padding and added safety on slippy floors!
Yoga provides many props to enhance your ability to express a pose. One of the most popular props used in class is the yoga block. Made of foam, bamboo, wood or cork, the block is often used as an extension of the arms, but can also support the back, head and hips to help the body settle into a pose. Yoga blocks also:
support a wider range of motion by shortening the distance between you and the floor (“bringing the floor closer to you”)
assist in establishing correct alignment
help make yoga accessible to beginners and to those experiencing injury or other physical limitations
bring awareness to properly engage and support muscles in a specific pose
can be placed at the low, medium and high positions to accommodate more or less support.
Straps are mainly used for stretching so that users achieve a wide range of motion. Even people who stretch their legs while doing sitting poses can benefit from these straps. One technique is to grab both ends and pull it towards them while leaning into the pose. Also, yoga mats and blocks can be used with straps so that users change their positions more easily and have gentler contacts with the floor. Based on the kind of pose, the strap is fitted underneath the buttocks, knees or hips.
Since ancient times, scents, perfumes, fragrances, incenses, etc. are in use to invoke a specific mood and responses. For instance, relaxation, aid sleep, increase concentration, stimulate creativity, and many other activities. As the years went by, people began using Incense for religious and aesthetic purposes too. Due to its soothing and stress relieving capabilities, Incense stick and essential oils have now become an integral part of every yoga session around the world. Burning a stick of incense can also bring more positivity and good vibes to your daily life if you burn incense in your living space as you go about your work or leisure.
Burning sage, which is also known as smudging, is said to cleanse and clear the energy of a space and also of a person. No ordinary plant, sage has long been regarded as one of nature’s healing herbs. It is believed to bring about wisdom and increase spiritual awareness to those who work with it.
One of the great things about this Native American cleansing ritual is that it actually has science to back it up. When the sage is burned, it releases negative ions known to leave one feeling uplifted. This change in ionic composition does wonders for relaxing our stress response. It also clears the air of unwanted bacteria, so one might smudge during flu season to prevent oneself from getting sick.
It may come as a surprise if you’re new to yoga, but there’s a considerable amount of literature that can really help to deepen your practice, and learn more about ‘off the mat’ yoga. We recommend:
Eastern Body, Western Mind: Anodea Judith
The Yoga Tradition: Georg Feuerstein
Inner Engineering: Sadhguru
You can Heal Your Life: Louise Hay
Love, Freedom, Aloneness: Osho
A New Earth: Eckhart Tolle
The Power of Now: Eckhart Tolle
So if you or someone significant in your life has always dreamed of starting yoga but was put off by the idea of yoga as a practice only for the flexible and physical, we have a suggestion!
We created our new Yoga For Beginners at Home course to gracefully guide you into the world of yoga. The course offers an introduction to multiple styles of meditation, yoga, breathing techniques and yogic philosophy so that you (or your loved one) will be prepared and confident using Yoga both on and off the mat!
Everything on the course can be done from home, so it’s perfect for a locked down Christmas, with pre-recorded videos that can be streamed straight from your phone or laptop. We've even made some mp3s and podcasts so that you can listen on the go. Forget additional screen time! Learn about yoga whilst out in the fresh air enjoying a nice winter walk!
If you’d like to learn more about our Yoga For Beginners course, or buy this as a gift for someone you love, you can get more information here.