Yoga is super-accessible these days, we all know it can benefit people of various ages and body types, but if you’ve never done it before, it can be extremely intimidating. To lessen the fear factor, we caught up with Jess Gronholm—an expert yogi and co-founder of Dirty Yoga Co., an online yoga workout program you can do anywhere—who offers 5 ways yoga newbies can be less intimidated.
1. Think of yoga as a tool.
Even if you don’t want to devote your life to becoming an accomplished yogi, you should know that yoga—even beginner level yoga—can enhance your life. For example, it’s a great source of flexibility for most men and a great way to gain strength for most women.
It restores flexibility for runners, cyclists, and anyone who performs a repetitive form of exercise that constantly contracts their muscles. It can also help virtually every athlete, from basketball players to skiers to perform better and longer.
2. Don’t stay a beginner any longer than you have to.
When I used to teach a beginner’s yoga class, there were people who attended it for years. Where else in your life would you be prepared to stay a beginner that long? If you’re fit, active and physically competent, you should be able to practice at an open or intermediate level once you’re confident you know the basic poses.
For example, Dirty Yoga Co. has a Beginner Yoga program called “Prep” which people have completed in as little as two weeks, before they’re ready to tackle our open DirtyYoga program.
3. Don’t let what you can’t do get in the way of what you can do.
Respect your body’s limits, but don’t give up and sit out a bunch of poses just because you find one pose difficult. There are some poses you may never be able to do, but there are plenty you will be able to do, and even more that you will be able to do with more practice.
4. If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing any way you can. You don’t have to do yoga in Lululemon, in a sun-drenched studio, scented with soy candles, and filled with people who only eat raw, organic vegetables that were hugged to death. The only thing that matters is that you do yoga, and keep doing it, even if you just stretch for 5 minutes a day (research shows 5 minutes a day is better for you than an hour a week anyway). If anyone tries to tell you have to practice yoga a certain way for it to be “real yoga,” ignore them.
5. Remember, yoga is just about the only physical activity that you can get better at as you age. Which is rather miraculous when you think about it—yoga must be good for you. It certainly beats a hip replacement when you’re 60. But the point of doing yoga is to practice it and to keep practicing it, and if you do that, the benefits are endless.