Excited to finally delve into this unknown world that friends had recommended because it would help me explore my physical limits and learn how to quiet my mind. Terrified that I wasn’t flexible enough or couldn’t slow down my internal chatter enough to pay attention to what the instructor was telling me.
Thankfully, my fears were unwarranted and I was hooked by the end of the class. Now, when I start to get bored with my yoga practice, I have learned that returning to a beginner’s mindset can be the necessary fix to add to my life on and off the mat. I take away the initial fear and delve into the excitement of trying something new, bringing in a greater awareness, curiosity, and playfulness.
Reconnect with playfulness by taking chances
I spent many years looking for the “right teacher” to dedicate my yoga practice to. Once I found them and attended class on a regular basis, I felt at home. I learned their technique and cues, learned their pace, and was able to truly tune into my meditative flow. While it is wonderful to have this comfort zone, it is also nice to try other styles of yoga and other instructors to offer a challenge. It’s important to continue to grow and remember that there can be playfulness and fun in the element of surprise and uncertainty.
Approach each pose with awareness
Lately I’ve been reading a lot of articles about injuries occurring in yoga due to practitioners not taking the time to slow down in each pose. As a vinyasa yoga instructor, it's easy for me to steadily pick up the pace in my classes, especially as people grow more adept at my technique, because it’s fun to flow from one pose to another. However, I am constantly reminded of the importance of pausing in order to pay attention to how you are feeling in body and mind and to make any necessary adjustments to find the balance between comfort and challenge in each muscle group.
One of my favorite aspects of starting something new is in being curious about the process, the lesson, and the experience of genuinely wanting to know about something. It’s so easy to get used to going through our regular routine and way of experiencing things that we forget there are other ways to approach life. Think about your favorite or least favorite yoga pose. Is there another way to approach it? For me, handstand (adho mukha vrksasana) was my least favorite pose until I took a class where the instructor had me approach it from a new perspective. Bingo! I was intrigued with it again and had a way to move in and out of the pose with grace and control instead of the fear of toppling over.
By cultivating a beginner’s mindset in your life on and off the mat, you can explore each moment with a sense of curiosity, awareness, and playfulness to explore unknown terrain in your way of living. The more you do so, the more interesting and meaningful life will be.