“some moment, maybe this moment, something comes along that significantly changes your life forever…..Yoga.”
Ali MacGraw whispers this in the opening credits of Yoga Mind & Body a VHS made in 1992.
this was the video that my mum gave to me when I was 14 years old. That opening comment by Ali MacGraw had a resounding impact on me at the time which still resonates with me today. That very video set me off on my path and it was those simple words that ignited my intrigue and passion.
I receive emails all the time from apprehensive potential students enquiring as to whether they are welcome to an open-level class as a beginner. I give them the short and sweet answer which is ‘yes’, but here I’d like to elaborate and share the long answer with all the potential yoga students out there…
“atha yoga-anushasanam” and so now begins the practice of yoga
18 years later, as a yoga teacher myself, I continue to consider myself still somewhat as a beginner because there is always so much more to learn. I love that the more you learn, the more you realise how much you don’t know. Yoga never gets easier but with practice, you just get better at it.
I like the challenge of always learning but I do get that being a ‘beginner’ can be daunting. However, the reality is that even though we are all beginners, equally so, there are no beginners at yoga because ultimately yoga is simply the philosophy of ‘being at one’ with nature, for which we are all entitled to as our birth right.
the opening sutra of Sage Patanjali, ‘Atha Yoga Anushasanam’ not only refers to the auspicious beginnings of one’s journey on the path but also can be translated to mean ‘Now, this is Yoga as observed in the natural world’
everyone has an innate understanding of yoga because we are all part of nature. OK even if we live in the city, sit at a desk for hours on end and like to party hard, we are all still part of nature and so it’s fair to say that intuitively we know yoga, even if the mind has hesitancies or the body has restrictions.
everyone’s body is a roadmap of their accumulated life experiences. The way a person moves and carries themselves can say a lot about their lifestyle, their attitude and even their thoughts. Unfortunately modern sedentary lifestyles and technological advancement has lead to a huge and ever increasing disconnect between mind activity versus body activity. This fragmented existence has lead us to lose touch with how we were designed to move and moves us out of kilter with our own nature. So yoga is just a way of bringing us back into alignment.
although some of the yoga poses or the chants or funny breathing may seem bizarre to beginners, postures retrain the body and breath to actually move naturally. The process of yoga allows a person to re-integrate body with mind activity and un-do some of the negative holding patterns that lifestyles’ impose and imprint.
Through holding specific poses, it’s a chance to re-wire your circuitry and tensions are released. It is well documented that practicing yoga creates a greater range of mobility and flexibility, however this is not just physically but also mentally, emotionally, energetically and spiritually too.
this freedom allows a person to expand their awareness and express more aspects of our true nature within daily life.
yoga is a personal journey of transformation that is accessible to anyone and which everybody is entitled to, no matter the age, background or experience (and no it doesn’t matter if you can’t touch your toes!!)
so with that in mind, be brave. Let go of any preconceptions of what is yoga, or what is your ability in yoga. Trust the process and trust your instinctual abilities. The thousand mile journey into the Self begins with the first step onto the yoga mat. Just get on it. Breathe and see what happens, you’ve already begun.
check out my ‘yoga for total beginners’ sequence on Youtube, and don’t forget to subscribe to the channel for the latest free tutorial vids
…and then next challenge is maintaining the beginners’ mind once the road becomes well trodden….but let’s cross that bridge when we get to it