When All Else Fails, Try Yoga

It’s true: I have no proof, but I do know that for a small minority of people, yoga can help them find balance in their lives.

We all strive to be our best selves each day — some more than others, which is why finding balance is important to maintaining a high level of happiness in our lives. Even more important than finding balance, though, is keeping your own self-perception in check. You don’t want to believe yourself when you really think otherwise. So, even though there are many different aspects of yoga practiced, and many different degrees of fitness required, there are some practices you probably haven’t heard of — like the Hatha Yogini — which may actually help you to live a healthier, happier life.

When we first hear the word “yoga,” we assume to know the meaning of the word. To us, it means any form of exercise that involves a steady stretch of the body. We’re so used to doing one thing day or the other, whether it be jumping on the trampoline, watching TV early in the morning, or driving a certain vehicle, that we don’t know how to fit another thing into our lives. It’s easy to think that when we make our way to yoga, it will make our life one big, organized package.

However, that is not the case. Yoga isn’t one method of exercise. There are many different types of yoga, and different degrees of fitness. Some are for beginners, while others are advanced. The more fitness you have, the easier the practice will be. If you have more muscle tone or more flexibility, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have the skills or the experience to be a yoga teacher or a health care provider.

Many people who are beginning to practice yoga and are interested in developing their yoga practice do so because of fitness. These people may choose a more beginner level yoga class because they are intimidated by the structure. They have been taught to avoid it due to a belief that a structured practice would “tone them down,” and many also have an opinion that “you have to do this with a partner in order to get things done.”

These misconceptions are so common among the general public that the fact that I have trained professionally in both clinical and health coaching for over 20 years, and have taught yoga to thousands of students since 2004 is cause for wonderment.

It is easy to feel anxious about starting your yoga practice, and I can understand the frustration. If you are nervous or scared, or not sure where to start, you can take some pointers from me. The first step to being in a better place is to become very comfortable with your body and what you are asking it to do. So what I would suggest you do is give yourself a break. If you feel anxious or nervous, or not sure where to begin, just let go. If you are experiencing any of these situations, just take a walk, open a window, turn around, or just sit still, and come back a few minutes later. Let yourself be relaxed and allow some of that discomfort to roll off onto its own back. It’s a process, though, and like anything else, it takes time, and you may not notice any changes at first. Just do your best to be mindful as you go.

It’s important to remember that no one method or body part is best or worst for every person. We all have our own goals for the practice, and that’s what creates the challenge — finding that balance between following your heart and doing the practice for yourself.

Take some time to learn the basics, then move on to some advanced practices. Don’t get frustrated.

When you follow the methods I’ve outlined, what you will find is that you will find a practice that is challenging enough for you whether your body is in the middle of a marathon or you have never ridden a bike or run this far.