Starting a New Yoga Practice: Sara's Story

May 14 | The Practice |

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Confession: I am an on-again, off-again yogi. I grew up watching my mom practice yoga, and I know all of the benefits of a consistent yoga practice – increased flexibility and muscle tone, reduced blood pressure and anxiety, better sleep, more mindfulness. But I’ve just never been able to hit the mat consistently for more than a few months at a time. I think part of what I’ve been missing is a studio and a community that really seemed like home.

I felt that change the day my friend Carolyn brought me along to a class at YogaSix. I walked into the beautiful Solana Beach studio, floated through a Deep Stretch class led by an instructor with a voice like melted butter, and thought, “Hm. This might actually be it.” I’m determined to give it my best shot, so here are a few things I’m focusing on as I start – and hopefully stick with – my new yoga practice at YogaSix.

Starting a New Yoga Practice

Embrace the beginner’s mind.

In addition to being an on-again, off-again yogi, I’m also a recovering perfectionist. I absolutely hate not knowing how to do something or not doing it well. But one thing I have learned in my years of meditation is the power of what Zen Buddhists refer to as shoshin, or the beginner’s mind. Basically this means entering into an experience – be it a yoga class or a meeting at work – with a sense of curiosity and compassion, rather than dread and negativity.

So I’m trying to enter my new yoga practice with a beginner’s mind. This means replacing thoughts like, “This is too hard, I want to stop” or “I’ve done yoga before, why am I not better at this?” with thoughts like, “This is an interesting new sensation; let’s stick with it and see where it goes” and “I wonder what this class will bring me?”

Don’t focus on what it looks like.

Again, I’m a perfectionist. It’s very easy for me to get distracted during a class by some “perfect” woman holding the “perfect” pose. This goes back again to the beginner’s mind and letting go of my preconceived notion of what a yogi is “supposed” to look like. I’m trying to forget about what the shape of my poses looks like and pay attention to what the poses feel like and what they’re doing for my body and my mind.

I’m also forgetting about my preconceived ideas about a yoga class itself is “supposed” to look like. Typically when I think of yoga, I think of quiet introspection. During one of my first classes at the Point Loma studio, though, I walked in to find the instructor and most of the clients chatting and laughing. I was a little taken aback – this was Deep Stretch, right? Wasn’t it “supposed” to be quiet and meditative? Then I stopped and looked around – everyone seemed genuinely happy to be there, with each other, in that space. That is exactly the kind of community I am looking for in a yoga studio, and it’s one of the reasons I’m so excited about YogaSix.

Stretch beyond your comfort zone.

Another thing that excited me about YogaSix right away was the sheer variety of classes that the studio offers. Deep Stretch, Slow Flow, Vinyasa, Power . . . I could go every day of the week and not repeat a class. While I’ve always been a gentle yoga/hatha yoga type of girl, I’m really looking forward to stretching my boundaries and trying something new (while working on that beginner’s mind, of course).

And in light of that goal, I am so excited to start the YogaSix Summer Strong Challenge! I’ll be diving right in and joining this amazing community as we push ourselves to complete 7 Power Yoga, Y6 Sculpt, or Bootcamp classes in 12 days. And of course, I’ll be writing all about my experience with the challenge. Will I discover a new love? Will I learn that when it comes to yoga, for me, slow and steady wins the race? I hope you keep reading as I find out…