What is Asana* practice really about?

* Asana practice = practice of yoga postures, one of the eight limbs of the spiritual path of yoga.

Have you contemplated starting yoga but you feel hesitant or somehow haven’t found the motivation to begin?

Perhaps you have seen videos and images on social media of contortionist-type yogis who twist their bodies into all sorts of strange shapes, seemingly without a care in the world, and think there’s no possible way you could ever achieve those postures?

Perhaps you anticipate that you will be expected to stand on your head during your first class?

Are you worried about being the “worst” at yoga in the room?

If the thought of coming to a yoga class just seems daunting, allow me to put your fears and worries to rest.

Asana practice is not about performing the most difficult postures.

Asana practice is not about being the strongest, most flexible person in the room.

It is not about becoming disheartened or frustrated when you cannot force your body into holding particular poses.

Asana practice is about getting out of your head, or detaching yourself from the internal dialogue that clutters your mind. You know — that inner voice that convinces you that you’re not good enough; that you’re not going to get that promotion; that you aren’t as pretty as that model on your Instagram feed; that you’ll never be as flexible as the person in front of you?

It is about listening to your body, and letting go of your ego. It’s about practising for you and you only, without competing or comparing yourself to others.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t challenge yourself to improve and progress towards more difficult postures. On the contrary, I believe you should challenge yourself and work hard in the yoga room every time you turn up. In fact, the harder you work in the room; the deeper you go into postures; and the more effort you place on observing the rhythm of your breath, the less room there is for the internal dialogue to distract you.

But the challenge of yoga is going to look different for each individual. We are all going through our own unique journeys, and what one may struggle with, another will flow through with ease.

What’s important is that you enjoy the journey. Offer total acceptance of yourself and what you’re experiencing in the moment. Celebrate your progress, but also embrace the challenges, because, ultimately, without challenging yourself there would be no opportunity for growth.

So, if you’re afraid to start yoga, believe me when I say there is no such thing as being the “worst” in the room; you don’t need to worry about being judged; and you won’t be forced to go into a headstand your first time!

Just turn up. Drop your expectations. Smile. Relax. Breathe. And let the journey begin.

At Coastline Yoga, I offer Beginners classes 3 times per week. The atmosphere is super chilled, laid back and supportive as we explore foundational postures, sequences and breathing techniques. If you are interested in starting yoga, I highly recommend these classes.

Additionally, the Gentle Flow classes are fantastic for the inexperienced or could serve as a stepping stone from Beginners classes toward the more challenging Vinyasa Flow classes. View the Coastline timetable here and more information about the different class types here.