im not flexible and other reasons why you havent tried yoga yet

Yoga can be intimidating, with the complex poses and incredibly flexible instructors. But certified yogi Cathy Dario shows you why you should get rid of the misconceptions and namaSTART yoga today.

My very first yoga class: I showed up at the studio wearing my PE shirt, and took the mat at the furthest corner of the room. I signed up for the class not really knowing what to expect–I didn’t even know what the term vinyasa meant. I was still in college at that time, so I picked the evening session that came after my classes and other school activities. The yogis around me were a lot older, stronger, and way more flexible. I wanted to back out! But I already bought that 8-class pass.

It’s been two years since I tumbled and fumbled through my first Sun Salutations, my teacher holding my hips up during plank since I couldn’t hold one for more than a breath. A lot of friends come up to me, saying they want to do yoga. Why don’t you?  The answers are always the same, and my responses are always the same too.

<I’ll be sharing some of the most common misconceptions, concerns, and worries that most beginner yogis have before their first practice, and hopefully my advice will finally get you on the mat.

I’m not flexible!

I’ve heard this a zillion times. Flexibility is a result, and not a prerequisite of yoga. With consistent practice, tight spots in your body unlock and open up–giving more allowance for space and movement.

During my first few months of yoga, I couldn’t even touch my toes. The Tita next to me could pretzel her legs with comfort and ease. This made me feel really intimidated, and it’s normal to feel that way when your classmates are at different levels. Your yoga teacher will give you options and modifications depending on your level.

It’s important to remember that your mat is your own, your practice is your own, and class is a safe space where no pressure or judgment occurs.

I’m not “zen”

Those who know me personally know that I’m absolutely not “zen” at all. I’m very moody, and get pissed off when I am pissed off. I put premium on healthy eating, but I enjoy my baby back ribs slathered with barbecue sauce. I have yet to explore incorporating mantras and chanting in my personal practice—many yogis of different disciplines do, and these have their own wonderful benefits.

What yoga has done for me is improve my mindfulness, self-care, and compassion for others. I’m very moody, but I’ve gained my patience, understanding, and discernment have vastly improved since I started my yoga practice. I have my occasional fast food binge, but I now make more informed decisions when it comes to my health. I’ve also gained a fuller, better appreciation of spirituality — whatever that may be for anybody at all.

I want to work out / I just want to relax and stretch / I already have a work out!

There are all kinds of yoga, and it’s important to find the one that will suit your needs. I practice and teach vinyasa, which is a kind of yoga that builds heat and tone muscle–vinyasa, next to ashtanga, is one of the more commonly offered classes around Manila. Different teachers and studios offer gentler, more restorative classes. Do your homework and research before signing up!

Yoga is a really good complement to other high impact exercises. High impact exercises (e.g.  running, cycling, rowing) often place a lot of stress on the joints. Yoga is both a strengthening and stretching exercise, and (when practiced safely, of course) may reduce a lot of the potentially injurious effects of other physical activities.

I have commitment issues!

Can’t seem to stick to a work out? Can’t really commit long term to a gym or a studio? No problem. Before I started yoga, I couldn’t either. In fact, I wasn’t fit at all. Personally, I found that buying a package really forced to go to class (and get my money’s worth). All studios offer introductory and short-term packages anyway. Other options like GuavaPass allow you to studio hop and try different classes all around the metro.

I would also bring friends to yoga class, and I sometimes still do. Having company to go to class with is very motivating and reassuring. It also helps to have a “yoga journal” too (this works for me, since I like writing. It’s something you can try out), where you can jot down your feelings and reflections after class. This helps you track your progress and look back on your growth.

Yoga is really expensive

This is completely understandable. A lot of gyms and studios have very high membership rates (especially to cover operational costs and instructor fees). Here are some tips I can give you:

Take online classes on Youtube – I personally prefer being in a studio and having a teacher personally correct me, but sometimes this isn’t possible. I really recommend Yoga with Adriene, although feel free to explore other channels too.

Watch out for promos, events, and community classes – Thankfully, there are always going to be marked-down membership offers, free classes, and affordable workshops. Make sure to stay updated with your studio, gym, or even subdivision’s social media page, so you can get updates. This way–it’ll just be about managing your time (and expectations, too).

At the end of the day, there’s no excuse for you not to incorporate yoga in your daily routine. It’s great for physical, mental, and emotional health, so get on that mat!

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