If you’re thinking about getting into a daily yoga routine or are just starting out in the practice, let me suggest something that might help. Don’t over-do it. I’ve found myself wanting to do yoga more each day, if I don’t try to overexert myself on the mat the day before.
This doesn’t mean you can’t have a daily yoga practice if you’re just starting out! It also doesn’t entail only doing X amount of minutes every day. My biggest tip: listen to your body! Your body will tell you if it’s just not feeling it today or if a particular stretch is less than ideal. Don’t shut it out. Listen.
Now, you may just feel lazy one day and not want to practice, but I do recommend trying to at least do a little bit. Routines take a little while to form habits. So if you’re just starting out, even a little bit every day can do wonders.
The 5-Minute Practice
Don’t think you have to do yoga for an hour every day to benefit from it. That’s simply not true. In fact, even as little as 5 minutes a day can do wonders for your body and your mind. If you’re just now getting into yoga, think about how often you usually stretch out every single day. If I had to take a guess, I’d say it’s probably less than 5 minutes!
So, starting small is what I recommend for new practitioners. Your muscles will thank me later. You can still get a really good full body stretch or even a body-part specific stretch in 5 minutes or less. The key is not to do a bunch of stretching and mind techniques all at once but rather to be consistent every day.
There’s a famous quote from Bruce Lee that exemplifies this perfectly: “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
Don’t Get in Your Head
As humans, we often like to try to “fix” ourselves by telling ourselves what we’re doing wrong, and what we can do better. While this can absolutely be helpful, it can also get in the way of our yoga practice, especially if we’re just starting out.
If you’re new to yoga, chances are you’re not going to be able to get into every single pose right away, and that’s okay! Do as much as you can, and don’t push your body. I promise you that if you stick with it, it will get easier over time. You might be like I was when I started, unable to touch your toes, hardly able to bend over. If that’s as far as you can go, cool! Nobody is going to judge you for not being a master at yoga right out of the gate.
Know that many people practice yoga for years before they’d consider themselves even remotely good at it. I am by no means an expert, and I have a lot to learn both in stretching and in mindfulness. I recognize this, but I also recognize that this is okay, and, if anything, it’s a goal to strive towards.
It’s Not All About the Stretching
Yes, yoga has many postures that require a great deal of stretching, but yoga has so much more to offer than simply just that. Yoga teaches us how to be patient, how to be mindful of ourselves and our environment, and how to connect with the energy surrounding us.
We are all connected, and while it might not seem like it if you’ve never stepped on a mat before, do a year of yoga and see if your thought process changes at all. Shoot, just give it a month of consistent practice! You should start to notice a change in the way you see things.
Maybe you’re the type of person who is always in a rush. Yoga can teach you to slow down a little bit. Perhaps you’re a little hot-headed and quick to anger. Yoga can help you focus on being mindful and patient of others and patient with yourself. If you’re in a sour mood, yoga can often help lift you up.
Yoga stretches are great for the body, but the mindful practices I’ve gotten out of my daily practice have done so much more than basic stretching could ever do.
Hop on Your Mat
Yoga is a powerful tool that I truly believe just about everyone can benefit from. You might not be the most flexible, but neither am I. As long as your heart is in the right place, you’ll soon see what I mean about yoga being more than a stretching exercise.
While stretching is important, the mindful techniques that yoga teaches us can do wonders for the soul. All it takes is as little as 5 minutes a day to see a change. Once you’ve gotten your 5 minute practice down, feel free to add more time, but always remember… listen to your body.
I hope this helped shed a little light for people new to yoga, and I hope it was also a reminder for the seasoned yoga veteran that yoga goes beyond ourselves. We are all connected in this world, and we need to be more mindful of that. Let us help lift each other up and inspire each other to grow, every day.