Being bitten by the yoga bug . . . it doesn’t happen to everyone. Many of us are able to go to a gym, do a few flows, and walk out with only tighter glutes and looser hammies. But then there are others—those that can’t seem to get enough, that start searching for all that’s yoga. It begins to seep into their everyday lives. They gravitate to like-minded folk like groupies at a concert. They read yoga articles, sling mat bags over their shoulders, and are seen only in black spandex and strappy tops when they pick up their kids from school.
If the following signs and symptoms are more than vaguely familiar, it may be time to flex your yoga muscles and strike a balance. You'll find suggestions here!
1. You've become one of those yogis who choose a "hot" yoga class over a hot date on Friday night. Yoga class can make you feel so deliciously alive that you want to practice yoga every moment you can. You begin to increase your once-a-week practice to going as often as the classes are offered. But if you find yourself asking your boss if you can drop from full-time work to part-time because the local yoga studio just opened up three more morning sessions a week, it might be time to do some reevaluating.
I hate to be blunt, but new yogis can easily fall into the obsession trap of overattending class. Some may argue that more is better, but remember, yoga is a practice of balance. It is good to be dedicated and great to get yourself onto the mat, but be cautious about overdoing it. Despite the obvious, amazing benefits to your body, too much is just too much, not only for your joints and ligaments, but also for other aspects of your life that may suffer if you are in the studio more than out. So listen inwardly and remember that the world is your yoga mat. Rest assured that you can practice yoga even if you aren’t in class. You’re embarking on a lifestyle, not training for a marathon. Take it easy, Yogi. You’re already on your way.
2. You're considering taking out a second mortgage to pay for your new yoga wardrobe. If you are new to the yoga lifestyle, you might feel intimidated by all the cute, and often really expensive, yoga outfits that people are wearing. It might feel imperative, if you are a yogi, to look like one. But let’s get back to the basics: yoga outfits are designed to help you move freely, to help the instructor see the alignment of your body and assist with the integrity of the poses, and to help you avoid injuries. That’s it. You don’t have to break the bank to show up to class wearing a tank top that costs more than an airline ticket. Get past the peer pressure of having the cutest duds, and go a little deeper.
You don’t have to break the bank to show up to class wearing a tank top that costs more than an airline ticket.
If you do some clicking online, or shop at a local fair-trade store, you’ll be able to find affordable clothes that actually “fit” a bit more with the yoga lifestyle—maybe foregoing the name brands for organic, environmentally friendly materials. Clothes that allow your body to breathe are best, not only because of their natural fibers, but also because they aren’t so tight that they constrict your diaphragm in order to give you “the look.” Remember, Yoginis, this practice is about finding your inner self. Don’t spend too much time or money focusing on the outer. I guarantee that wearing a bright smile and sporting that peaceful energy is the real look of a true yogi.
3. You’re convinced that your yoga teacher is the reincarnated Buddha. It’s true, a good yoga teacher who knows their stuff is a valuable asset on the yogi’s path, but be wary about putting a halo over his head or a bodhi tree behind her back. When everything you are learning on this path is new and exciting, and you’ve found a class that helps you search deeper, it’s easy to see your teacher as a deity. However, if you find yourself trying to friend her on facebook, twitter, and instagram, coming early to class to get a front row spot next to her, and feeling like you’ll need to give up your practice if she takes maternity leave, it might be time to practice non-attachment.
Remember the mantra for new yogis—balance. Balance. Shanti. Balance. Teachers serve an incredibly important role for a yogi, but a true teacher will encourage you to find the guru within. Learn from, enjoy, respect, and admire your teacher, but equally as much, honor your own Self and what you are striving to learn about that inner guru referred to as YOU.
4. You feel down in yoga class because your dog is nothing compared to that of the seasoned yogi next to you. Lesson number one for all new yogis—stay on your own mat. That means not only your bootie but your peepers as well. Don’t be looking over at what your neighbor is doing and comparing your baddha konasana to hers. You shouldn’t be striving to be like her because that’s not your job. Your job as a yogi-in-training is to be YOU. And that’s not always such an easy job. Chances are you and YOU barely know each other, right? Stressing out about whether you’re hitting each pose or worthy to be in the intermediate class has got your drishti drifting. Get grounded. Let go of how things look. Let yourself off the hook. Yoga isn’t about a beautiful warrior pose. It’s about the experience of reaching for it; it’s about discovering strength and grace along the way so your inner light can shine. Now that’s beauty.
Your job as a yogi-in-training is to be YOU.
Are you experiencing other signs and symptoms of being new to the yoga lifestyle? Send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I may incorporate them into a future article with additional tips for others on the same path.