The Joy of Being a Beginner Yogi

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There’s a great misconception that beginner yoga is easy. It's not easy, but it can be made simple. I believe a beginner practice should be inviting, approachable, and safe. Oftentimes we don’t start things because they appear complicated. Complexity and chaos are also reasons why we don’t solve certain problems in our lives—often preventing change. We tell ourselves that "we can’t," so we don’t.

Yoga can be made to appear complex, performative, and steeped in culture from another world, but it doesn’t have to be. Approach the challenge of yoga with a goal of getting to know yourself. Yoga is always a metaphor for your life off the mat. It’s a practice that extends far past the 2x6 of rubber below you. A yoga practice gives us an opportunity to make things organized, functional, and fun. It’s a practice that can help make our unconscious patterns or problems into conscious material. When we take the seat of a beginner we get to start anew, and we can simplify.

Simple says, “let’s begin.” And where should we begin? At the beginning, of course! Being at the beginning of something is such a beautiful place to be. Oftentimes, it takes great courage to begin something new. It can feel a bit intimidating, scary, or just plain uncomfortable. To make the bold and brave decision to try something new is a badge of honor every student should wear proudly. As a teacher, I commend you for it. So, whether you’re a novice or an experienced yogi, being at the beginning of a class, challenge, or new chapter has many gifts. But what are they exactly?

One of the greatest joys of being a beginner is that you’re not expected to know everything. You’re a student and as a student your goal is to enjoy learning while doing your best. You can unpack the weight or expectation of having to be “good” at something. Let go of the assumption that in a yoga class you can even be “good” or “bad” at something. And instead, begin to approach your practice with a sense of curiosity for the challenge. Listen in. As a beginner, you listen with perky ears. You’ll have a bright and powerful awareness to the language you hear because it will likely be new. You’ll also have a keen sense of how you’re feeling as you might find yourself hyperaware of your body. Enjoy the newness of things; the excitement, the little nervous flutter, that first deep inhale or exhale, and the full relaxation that is likely to follow it all.

It might not feel simple from your perspective as a teacher tells you just how to move or breathe. It will be an exercise for the body, mind, and imagination. As a beginner, we need clear and concise directions to dive into yoga safely. This is why beginner yoga is made to be simple, but not easy. A simple yoga practice will mean that you are made responsible, capable, and powerful. But luckily, being a beginner means that you’re likely to ride an accelerated learning curve, too. It’s absolutely exhilarating! You’ll quickly be able to feel, use, and see your power.

By circling back to the basics, we invite simpler movements to show off our brilliance. Through this simplicity we are able to find sweetness towards ourselves as we learn. I encourage you to practice radical kindness and patience towards yourself along the journey. Let the boldness of being a beginner stoke your confidence and tenacity. And, know that you can always begin again, and again.

About the Author

Steph Winsor

Steph is a yoga and meditation teacher based in New York City. You can practice with her on Yoga Anytime in the Enjoy Yourself: 7-Day Summer Challenge.


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