It’s the second week in January and we are slowly starting to settle in to the New Year. Everyone has their brand new 2012 calendars, penciled in with a million to do lists, events and appointments. But it’s important to set your rhythm now for the rest of year, so perhaps this is the year you begin practicing yoga? A Toronto yogi/instructor,  Kaitlin Legge from 889 Yoga (The Thompson Hotel) and Spynga gave us some helpful tips on what to expect as a beginner yoga practitioner.

1. “…But I’m not flexible!”
This is a common misconception, and perhaps an easy way out if you’re afraid to try the practice. Do not be afraid to try yoga just because you are not flexible. The purpose of yoga is to become more flexible, so you can start the practice at any level of flexibility.

Katie’s encouragement: “Embrace your body the way it is already.”

2.  It’s not just for your body
The practice of yoga goes beyond benefits that are merely physical. There is an emotional and mental side to yoga that is opened up throughout your practice. Breathing techniques and meditation are used throughout the practice of yoga, which aid in the balance between body and mind. 

Katie’s encouragement: “It is most important that we arrive in our class with an open mind and sense of humor!”

3. Don’t be shy or embarrassed to be a “beginner”
Every yogi has to start somewhere. To get into the groove, try a beginner or level 1 class to be introduced to the different postures. There is an accurate way to hold each posture and a beginner class will teach you these poses in a safe way for your body.

Katie’s encouragement: “Even the most experienced yogi can benefit from a ‘level 1’ class, as it can benefit everyone to return to our basic alignment from time to time.”

4. Find the right type of yoga and instructor
Don’t give up on the practice of yoga because you had one bad experience. At the beginning stages of practicing yoga, it’s about trial and error. Take time to find the right practice, the right studio and most importantly the right instructor that suits your needs.

Katie’s encouragement: “Be kind to yourself and embrace the beautiful changes you are going to see in your body and mind!”

Now, we’ve all seen the viral video “Shit Yogis Say”. Although the video is quite realistic, don’t be intimidated. The truth is you don’t need to take wheat grass shots or wear lululemon to practice yoga. Yoga is a personal experience and you can begin the practice for any reason, whether it be for better balance on the Subway, to have a leaner body, or to simply have time for yourself. All these reasons are legitimate because yoga is what you make of it.

~ Lindsey Peterson