I began practicing yoga seriously about 2 years ago. At the time, I wasn’t working or in school and had all the time in the world to dedicate to my health. My yoga practice didn’t start off being as much fun as it is now, so today we’ll be talking about thinks I wish I knew before I began my home yoga practice.
My home yoga practice was enjoyable when I first started, but there are certain things I wish I knew before I began my that I know now. Certain things that honestly would have saved me so much frustration and injury in the early days.
I hope that by sharing these with you, you’re saved from some of the frustrations that I endured as you set up your home yoga practice.
5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Began my Home Yoga Practice
1. Practice Consistently.
If you want to see progress, you must practice. It’s really that simple. When I first committed to my practice, I would get on my mat daily without fail. 5 minutes? 30 minutes? 1 hour? It didn’t matter, I’d be on there.
Then about a year into my practice, I stopped taking time on my mat. I started seeing progress – physically – and got complacent. I used all my responsibilities as an excuse but you know what happened?
My progress slowed down drastically.
Not only did my progress slow down, I actually lost some of it. Not just physically but mentally too. And this happens every time I take any kind of break from my practice. Coming back to my mat after a week or even a month off is always a bit of a challenge.
The amount of work you put in will determine your progress.
2. Be patient with your body.
You need to be patient as you practice consistently. Yoga isn’t magic and just because you practice every day for one week, doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get into that pose you’ve had your eye on immediately.
In the picture above I’m practicing butterfly pose; a great hip opener. Opening up my hips is something I have been working on since I began practicing yoga.
I spend so much of my time sitting as a student and I know it’s bad for my lower body. So I am always conscious about strengthening my lower body and increasing flexibility. What you see in that picture is that after 2 years, there’s progress but it isn’t major progress.
This is normal and it took me a while to figure that out. I was so focused on getting into certain more advanced poses when I first started that I hurt myself a couple of times. Don’t do this.
Don’t focus too much on the pose you’re trying to achieve. Instead, spend time enjoying your practice and the journey. Over time, your body will reward you.
3. Don’t compare yourself to other yogis.
It’s easy to fall into the comparison trap. Especially if you’re like me and you’re a part of the yoga Instagram community. Coming across people making all sorts of crazy shapes with their bodies is the norm.
Seeing people work through a pose that you’re working on and eventually getting it while you’re still working can cause you to feel discouraged. Comparing yourself to these people will only bring disappointment.
It’s all about your mindset friend. Instead of seeing these other yogis as being or doing better than you, see them as inspirations and goals. Aim to get to where they are at the pace that works for your own body.
Always remember that your body will NEVER look exactly like someone else’s in certain poses. Sometimes your skeletal structure just won’t allow for identical shapes. So, comparing yourself to other yogis might be futile.
4. Your ego has no place on your mat.
If you come to your mat thinking you know better than your body, you’ll hurt yourself. If you come to the mat expecting to be at a certain level with poses, you’ll disappoint yourself.
At the beginning of my practice, I was so eager to get into specific poses that I would push my body and get frustrated when it didn’t happen. I thought I knew better than my body and tried to forgo the foundations.
Such a bad decision. Like I said earlier, this led to a few injuries early on in my practice.
The thing about the ego is that it gets in the way of progress. It blocks fun and invites frustration. Your ego tells you to push yourself past your limits, beyond what’s safe. It tries to convince you that you’re ready to move deeper into a pose when you’re not.
My practice would have been a lot more frustration free at the beginning of my journey if I knew this a year ago. I want you to learn from my mistakes. Set your ego aside and just have fun.
Yoga is a journey, not a destination. You’ll have your practice for the rest of your life so there’s no need to rush the process. Allow yourself the time to enjoy the process of progress; listen to your body when it tells you it’s had enough and not to your ego when it tells you to push deeper.
5. Have fun!
It took about 6 months from me to move from the “I want to stand on my hands” mindset to the “I just love making art with my body” mindset. And let me tell, they are both very different. Figure out what part of yoga is fun for you and focus on it.
For me, it’s the fact that I see poses as being artful. For you, it might be that the flows make you feel like you’re dancing. Or that when you start sweating your brain tells you endorphins are being released, and that gets you excited. I don’t know.
I don’t know what it’ll be for you but find it. Figure out a way to Just. Have. Fun. And the first 4 things will come easier to you. It’s easier for you to get on the mat daily – sometimes for an hour, other times for 5 minutes – when you let go of expectations and arbitrary rules and see your time on your mat as a fun way to a becoming healthier.