Everyone wants to better themselves these days, and they want a yoga practice to help them do it. Any period of transformation, introspection or newness is improved by the addition of a yoga practice. It helps us see clearly, stay in touch with our bodies and stay focused on what is important amidst whatever is going on. It connects us to ourselves and makes us feel empowered when we might otherwise feel intimidated.
Of course, starting to practice yoga when we have never done it before is challenging. It can make us feel vulnerable, challenge our ability to stay focused and, of course, it challenges our bodies. Coming into the asanas in the physical practice can be seen as arbitrary and awkward. Why am I taking my body into these weird shapes? Eventually, you will learn to take solace in the fact that these shapes, poses and seats have been practiced for thousands of years. They are more than just shapes and there is ancient power and wisdom in taking them on.
When we are first doing the poses, we have to get used to them. We have to get them into our bodies. Once we get more comfortable coming through the vinyasa and holding poses, we can begin to subtly refine our posture. We can begin to breathe deeper during our practice, quiet our mind for longer and focus our attention more directly. My teacher in India told me, “At first, the practice is effort-full, and then it becomes effort-less.”
When you are starting out on the journey, remember that in order to reap rewards, you have to work hard. Stay with the practice and soon it will be intrinsic.