• Dom Catto

Are you scared of starting Yoga?

Starting something new can be quite scary and overwhelming, especially if it’s something as popular as Yoga and has as many misconceptions surrounding it as Yoga does. From a legitimate fear of hurting yourself to thinking you need to be flexible to do Yoga. All these concerns are valid and need to be talked about.

Here is some info you need to know about Yoga to calm your fears and understand it a bit more.

Firstly, let’s address this absolute misconception that you have to be flexible to do Yoga. When I tell people that I teach Yoga the first response is, “Oh, I’m not flexible enough to do Yoga!!”. This is like saying, “Oh, I’m too hungry to eat!” Same same. The physical practice of Yoga (asana or poses) helps to make you more flexible. It is a result of the practice, NOT a requirement. We use a number of props and variations of the poses to make sure you can feel what the pose is meant to feel like. In actual fact, being inflexible in your body is a great place to start your practice. It gives you the opportunity to really get to know your body, your strengths and your limitations. Remember, Yoga is not about touching your toes, it’s about what you learn on the way down. Whatever state you arrive on your mat in physically is the most perfect place to start for you. Take it breath by breath and don’t push yourself too hard to begin with.

Many people think that Yoga is just for women. This is a great untruth. Yoga traditionally was exclusively taught to men. Women were not allowed to receive the teachings. Nowadays, Yoga appeals much more to women because we are more inclined to be vulnerable, to go deeper, to look at ourselves and to make change. Men have a lot of societal pressure to be manly and not show tenderness or weakness. But Yoga is for everyone. And gents, trust me, you will be challenged if you get onto a Yoga mat; it is not simply stretching your muscles. Yoga is an all-round, full-body practice that will take you to places that you’ve forgotten about or ignored for years. We desperately need more masculine energy doing these nurturing practices, this inner work, so that we can all move the consciousness of the planet to a more open, kind, compassionate and loving place.

Yoga is not a religion. All the practices of Yoga together teach a way of life or a way of being. It is not dedicated to a specific religion or proposed God. You can be Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim or atheist and practice Yoga without it interfering with your faith. In fact, the teachings of Yoga will add even more value to the teachings of your chosen religion. There are so many different practices of Yoga that you can pick and choose what works for you and your beliefs.

There is a very real and legitimate fear of hurting yourself in the practice or re-injuring a past injury. Let’s chat about the two different kinds of pain you may feel in a Yoga class. The first kind is a SHARP pain. If this happens stop doing whatever you’re doing immediately. Do not push through a sharp pain. Come out of the pose gently and talk to your teacher about any alternatives you can do that don’t cause pain. The practice is totally adjustable to your body and your needs. Please be so aware and respectful of any past or current injuries you’re dealing with. Be sure to engage or soften where instructed, to not work into sharp pain and to always ask for help when you need it or feel uncertain. The second kind of pain is stretching pain (I’m going to lump strengthening pain in here as well). Stretching pain is NOT a sharp pain, but rather that feeling of working into a tight muscle. Of stretching that muscle out. A muscle that maybe hasn’t had much attention placed on it. Perhaps this happens in an area of your body that you’re afraid to venture into, a place that you’ve kept purposefully tight to protect yourself - physically or emotionally - like rounded, hunched shoulders to protect your heart. This stretching pain is necessary and good. The more you work into this kind of pain, the more it will release and you will be able to soften into that muscle and the pose. Strengthening pain, like that burning sensation in your thigh or shoulders, is also a good type of pain. This means you're building strength in that area. Try not to give up immediately when that burning starts, keep breathing in the pose a little longer. This is how you build strength in those muscles. If you give up at the same point each time, you’ll never build that strength. Also, please always keep the safety of your joints front of mind. Whilst we can have joints replaced, its a very painful and expensive exercise and I would really prefer it if you avoided it.

I’m sure you’ve had the experience of doing something physical and strenuous and your muscles start to shake like crazy. The first thought that pops into your head is “My muscles are so weak! I’m not strong enough to do this.” You doubt yourself and beat yourself up, right? This is a HUGE misconception. That shaking is not a result of weak muscles, it is your nervous system getting rid of and clearing out unnecessary energy. Having the shakes is GOOD!!! Give into those shakes, let your body do what it intuitively knows it has to do to get back to balance. Shake it out and let the corners of your mouth lift into a smile when you’re doing it.

A question I am asked a lot is how much time do I need to dedicate to Yoga to see a result. As you know, there is no quick fix when it comes to starting something new, especially if it’s something physical. The first step is to make the commitment to yourself that you are going to be dedicated to the practice. The second step is being consistent. The ideal scenario is having a daily Yoga practice but I totally understand that life doesn’t necessarily allow us to do this. If you can set aside 20 minutes a day to do the practices that would be fantastic but you have to be realistic with your time. Doing the physical asana practise 3 times a week for an hour will give you visible and tangible benefits quickly. The Yoga for Beginners course we're offering on the member’s platform has everything you’ll need to start your practice in bite-sized chunks so you won’t feel overwhelmed. With this tool, you could do one video a day and get your practice in that way. I can really relate to that feeling of trying to start something and then procrastinating because of fear or misunderstanding. It ends up being a really frustrating cycle. So, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Set aside a time to practice and do it. You’ll soon see that it makes you feel so good that you’ll be looking forward to your practice every day.

There can also be a really big fear of getting it wrong, of making a fool of yourself. I would absolutely advise that if you’re starting a Yoga practice do it with a teacher to guide you. You can try to practise alone but a Yoga teacher has spent many hours on the mat studying the teachings and practices and they can guide you through everything with patience, understanding and love. If you try to do it yourself, you’re likely to end up frustrated, disillusioned and upset with yourself. Find a teacher, either in person or online, that you like, trust and respect to guide you on the path. The online courses and classes we offer have everything you need to prepare you to walk into a Yoga studio to confidently, safely take a class, or to continue your self-practice / online practice at home. Also remember that Yoga is not a practice that you can perfect. Every day is going to be different in your body and in your mind. The practice is totally adjustable to YOU and what you need.

My most favourite thing about these practices has been that they have re-introduced me to myself. They have allowed me to get to know my body and myself deeply and intimately. They have helped me move along a path of kindness, compassion and respect for myself and for others because we’re all trying to figure this life out and we’re all in this together.

Please feel free to reach out to me at any time if you have any questions, comments or concerns. I will always do my best to guide you in this beautiful process of getting to know your body better.

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