Maybe it looks like everyone else just floats along to yoga all chilled and happy. But I can’t believe I’m the only one with some worrying little niggles.
What are the yoga worries we all secretly share?
1. I look absolutely terrible in lycra – it reveals all the wobbly bits I spend my life trying to hide
Fortunately, no one has to wear stretchy, revealing kit to yoga, unless they want to. Any comfortable clothes that you can move around and relax in are just fine. At home I normally do yoga in my pyjamas. If you want to invest in fancy leggings from Lululemon, go for it. But everyone has their eyes shut most of the time anyway.
2. I can’t touch my knees, let alone my toes
Yoga is not about achievement. Everyone’s body is different, and yoga is all about being in the here and now with your body as it is today. A good yoga teacher will be able to adapt every pose to meet your individual needs. Maybe today you will choose to spend the whole class resting in “corpse” pose. I really admire people who love their own bodies enough to do that!
3. What if I need to go for a wee halfway through the class?
If you do, just go. I always worry about this one. I need to go before I leave home, and then again, 15 minutes later, when I arrive at the yoga venue. It’s purely psychological (I think!). But if you do need a wee during class, just pop outside for a moment. Probably no one will even notice. And you’ll enjoy that bit in the meditation when the teacher starts going on about a pool of water just below your navel a whole lot more.
4. Do I have to become a vegan? What if I accidentally mention that today I mostly ate cake?
No! Yoga is all about acceptance, of ourselves and one another. Personally I tried being vegan for a while, but I really missed milk chocolate. I really admire people who restrict what they eat due to loving beliefs, but I think it’s more important that we love and accept one another.
5. What if I fall over?
I find balances quite challenging, and I often fall over. But it’s amazing how much easier it is to balance when you relax and stop worrying about how terrible it would be to fall. As soon as that pressure is taken away you seem to feel lighter. And if you fall, just smile kindly to yourself and try again. Gentle and yin yoga classes don’t usually involve balancing anyway.
6. I’m worried I might fart, loudly
Yes that might happen. It happens to everyone, sooner or later. Yoga has a way of opening up and relaxing the body which does tend to help the farts find their way out. I have this wonderful friend, Sam, who had us all creased up with laughter joking about our farts one afternoon on yoga retreat when the veggie food had started to work its magic. The teacher had lots of trouble getting us back into a quiet and meditative frame of mind. See it as part of the releasing experience. And laugh a little.
7. If it’s too relaxing I might fall asleep. And snore.
I think most yoga classes have a snorer. If you fall asleep during relaxation, it’s probably because that is exactly what your exhausted body and mind needed. How wonderful that you have given yourself this opportunity for a proper rest. You will feel much better for it afterwards.
8. I’m rubbish at all this meditation stuff. There’s no way I can clear my mind.
It’s really not possible to fail at meditation, or at yoga in general. That’s what I love about it! You don’t have to empty your mind to meditate – that would be impossible for most normal people. It’s just about taking some time to rest quietly and be aware of the present moment. There’s no such thing as a bad meditation.
9. The teacher might make me do something really scary, like a handstand
Everything a yoga teacher says is really just an invitation to try something, if that feels right for you today. A good teacher will respect your own awareness of your body’s needs. Sometimes it can be liberating to be offered support towards a new or challenging position. Other times it may be right for you simply to rest.
10. What if I really love it, and it starts taking over my life?
Yeah that’s kinda what happened to me. Especially because of the thing about yoga not being about achievement. It’s so liberating, I can’t get enough of it. Good luck with that one!
Karen is a trainee yoga teacher and mum of seven. She lives in Billericay, Essex and her day job is as a health visitor. Karen runs The Calm Space Yoga, and she will be teaching Gentle Yoga Workshops in Stock, Essex on selected Saturday mornings this summer. For more information and to book, visit http://thecalmspace.co.uk