Starting with yoga in the most zen way


Starting with yoga starts with yourself

Relieving back pain, more peace in your mind, a more flexible body, or a spiritual journey? The reason for stepping on the yoga mat for the first time can vary from person to person. In any case, it is good that you are starting with yoga. As long as your motivation comes from within you and not from a highly competitive drive. Yoga is all about you. Your body, your practice, and your journey.

The idea of a yoga class full of experienced yogis, who can do a split before you can, might scare you off. However, this is totally unnecessary. Yoga is a place where you can be yourself, without a sense of competition. By not comparing yourself to others, you can focus on your own inner journey. This way you can start practising yoga in a zen way and achieve even more during your practice. In this blog, we will explain why it is unnecessary to compare yourself to others.

It’s nice to be a beginner

Men are often more performance oriented. In which case, their achievements are the measurement of their success, which goes along with the feeling that everything has to be right the first time. Good trait, only not as useful when it comes to starting with yoga. In fact, yoga can go wrong if you don’t focus your attention on the right thing. It’s not about how fast you perform compared to everyone else. It’s about the journey of your own body and creating a good foundation.

Some yogis get to the most advanced peak pose quickly and others need to use the intermediate steps first. You are no worse if you are still in the beginning pose of an asana and need to build up first. We understand that it can be intimidating to be among experienced superyogis but try to remove the judgment attached to the word “beginner”. Why not? Everyone has been a beginner at some point.

Besides, it would be a shame if you skip or rush the intermediate steps to reach the final pose sooner. If you don’t take the time to practice the right alignment, it can lead to injuries. You will also miss the basics of yoga by going through the poses too quickly. The build-up to the final pose is really important. Just like a house, without a foundation, you will collapse during your yoga practice. Therefore, take your time and experience the ease or tension your practice brings you. This is how you get to know your body and find out where the tension and flexibility is. Discover your body and see what the yoga practice does for you. This is the best way to start your yoga journey.

Work with what you got

Everything you do affects your practice. This applies to everyone. Everyone has a different body history. Because of your habits, some parts of your body are stronger than others. The profession you have, the sport you do, or the way you sleep all determine which muscles in your body are stronger. For example, bartenders are more muscular in their lower back and arms from lifting beer barrels and shaking drinks. The repetition of movement you make in everyday life determines where the strength and flexibility is in your body. Therefore, it’s not fair if you compare yourself to someone who has a completely different body history, especially if you’re just starting with yoga. Work with what you got.

Similarly, don’t compare yourself to your practice from the days before. Your flexibility depends very much on the moment. Sometimes you are less flexible than others. For example, your muscles are stiffer in the morning because your body needs to start up after a period of rest. Factors such as your diet and stress level can also affect the suppleness of your muscles. You can’t assume that your body can give the same performance in every practice. Don’t be so hard on yourself and look at it from day to day. Just show up, and you will see what your body makes of it.

Everyone starts with yoga differently

In their childhood, boys often play different sports than girls. Whereas girls choose to do dance and gymnastics, soccer and martial arts remain most popular for boys. This sports history has more influence on your flexibility than you might think. Sports such as dance and gymnastics involve much more stretching than soccer. As a result, women are more likely to have grown longer muscles in the past than men.

In addition, most men train for muscle strength. By repeating these exercises, you create strong, short muscles. Chances are that, as a man, you have shorter muscles. For yoga, this is less practical. Of course, you can practice yoga with shorter muscles, the only thing is that you might not get into a pose the way you’d like to. Longer muscles can make it easier to get into certain poses. If you are used to working on your bulk instead of your flexibility, starting with yoga may seem very difficult for you compared to the rest. There’s nothing wrong with that. Another reason not to compare yourself to the women in your yoga class.

The thing is: With yoga, you get further when you relax and take your time with your exercises. You don’t have to keep pushing for better results, like you do with strength training. Therefore, it might be a smart idea to start with yin yoga. This form of yoga involves sitting in a yoga pose for a longer period of time so you can work on your flexibility in peace. It’s a zen way to be starting with yoga. After doing this, other yoga forms will become easier as well.

Flexibility is flexible

Your flexibility can differ from someone else’s in many ways. Everyone’s bones are a different shape, something you have little control over. You can improve your flexibility by stretching and doing yoga, but you can’t change the shape of your bones. The shape of your bones determines how much room you have, to move certain body parts in an asana. So some yogis have more flexibility because of their build, which makes touching their toes easier done. Read more about yoga and flexibility here.

Additionally, women have a different skeletal system than men. Because women’s pelvises are made to deliver a baby, they look different than men’s pelvic area. The female pelvic cavity is wider and deeper than the male. Also, the man’s tail bone is less movable. So you can imagine that women are more flexible in that area than men, making some exercises easier for them. Not really something to get wound up about when you are starting in a yoga class. Especially when you consider that the male body has many useful qualities that can be used during class.

Collagen also counts

Joints also play a big role in your flexibility. The flexibility of your joints is influenced by collagen. This is the building material for your connective tissue, which provides strength and elasticity to your skin and cartilage. What a shame that its production decreases from the age of 25. As you get older, the amount of collagen in the body, and therefore the cartilage, decreases. This is noticeable in your joints, which become less supple. For some, this happens faster than others. At the same time, some women take supplements to slow down this process.

This shows that comparing your skeleton with others in your yoga class is an impossible mission. Don’t blame yourself if your body is not the most bendable. Give yourself a head start by wearing comfortable yoga clothes that you can move in easily. That way you come to yoga class prepared.

Final words of wisdom

Try to remember that yoga is all about your own inner journey. It doesn’t matter how pretty your practice looks compared to other yogis, especially if you’re just starting with yoga. As long as you pay attention to proper alignment. It will help you let go of the drive for perfection and enjoy the feeling that yoga brings. Focus on the steps your body has taken since the beginning and remember: the starting point is not the person on the yoga mat next to you, it’s you.

A wise quote to remember: Remember you are a human being, not a human doing. Your value does not depend on your performance. Keep in mind that you are valuable as you are, even without the things you have accomplished.

Yoga is about the feeling and depth that the poses provide you in the here-and-now, and all the mental, physical, and spiritual health benefits of course. So instead of thinking about someone else’s performance, it’s better to experience what the practice brings you. If you concentrate on that and do the asana with full focus on your body and breathing, you can experience more of the benefits of yoga. Eventually you will notice that your body becomes more and more flexible.

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