I have been a yoga teacher for over a decade and I can honestly say I have heard them all–excuses that is—of why students and potential students don’t go to yoga class. Many of them even get as far as stopping in, getting information, even filling out a waiver form, but when it comes to actually attending class, that is a whole different battle.
I live in the community where I grew up and have been teaching yoga here for years. I know many of the residents and they know me. Many work at local establishments and I see them regularly (probably more than they would like to–at times). None-the-less, upon seeing me I may be a nagging reminder of the fact that they want to come to yoga but have not–at least not yet.
Now mind you, these excuses (and they truly are excuses) also go for students that have drifted away from their practice for one reason or another. And, I hear the complaints–of aches and pains–from sitting too much, running too much, or getting injured. So, they will wait some more to heal before they can come back to yoga.
Before I list these excuses, I want to say that am I not looking down on anyone, but hoping that someone out there sees that these excuses as only limiting themselves from experiencing, enjoying and feeling something really great.
- I need to get more flexible. What? This makes absolutely no sense what so ever! When you give this excuse to a yoga instructor, it’s like saying to an electrician that you want to rewire the whole house before he comes to look at the project. On a purely physical level, yoga is known for aiding you to become more flexible, not to mention that it prevents injuries due to inflexibility.
- I need to lose some weight first. Yogis come in all shapes and sizes and many yoga studios honor bodies just like yours. That being said, a regular yoga practice not only helps aid the metabolism but it burns calories. And, it can help you reshape your body. My body has bounced back from three pregnancies (I’m now on my fourth pregnancy.) My yoga practice has done wonders for me.
- Yoga is too hard for me. As a yoga teacher, when I travel and take other classes, I do notice that not every teacher addresses the beginner in the room. At the studio I own, we make it a priority to offer beginner level yoga classes. While many students may not want to consider themselves beginners, when recovering from an injury the mind says experienced, but the body says beginner again. Yoga is not hard; it challenges every inch of your being, on every level – especially the ego. And, that kind of challenge takes commitment–something in which we all could use a boost.
- I just don’t have the time. I often pose these questions to my students in class: If you didn’t come to class what would you be doing? Are you really so strapped for time that you just simply cannot make it to class one hour per week? Don’t get me wrong, I’m a mom, a wife, I own a home with animals, I own a business that is ever expanding. I too have said to myself every excuse in the book (and still do) as to why I shouldn’t practice, but they are all lame. I’m too busy–yet the couch is where I stay and watch TV. I’m tired–but I’m not in bed; instead I’m surfing the internet. I’ve got work to do—housework, laundry, bills to pay – but I don’t get around to it. If you add up all that “busy time”, you could commit to a regular yoga practice where you can clear your head, flex and tone your body, and offer your soul something far better.
- I didn’t like it (the teacher, class, tempo…) If you aren’t connecting with your current yoga teacher, first, make sure it isn’t your ego and then, shop around. Visit different studios. Try different styles of yoga. Thebeauty of yoga is that there are hundreds of teachers–more and more every second. While some probably shouldn’t be teaching, there are lots and lots that are extremely well-trained and amazing instructors. And if you are lucky, you have a great yoga instructor in your area. Keep in mind that often times, the style you need is the opposite of what you want. Seek out the teacher and class that fits you best. Yoga is everywhere. Eventually, you are will find a yoga class that fits your lifestyle and meets your needs.
Why did I write this article? Not to look down upon my fellow yogis or soon to be yogis, but rather to remind us all that we keep ourselves from things that can help us. Why do we limit, and in a sense, punish ourselves? If you all can experience what I experience on my mat, not experiencing yoga is exactly that, a punishment. Most of us equate yoga to a physical asana practice and in the West that is pretty much true. However, if we stick with a consistent yoga practice, it will slow change how we view our bodies, how we breathe, and how we view the world. And, from this list of excuses, this is exactly why we should practice yoga, because it helps us live a more authentic life off the mat.
Photo credit: Taro Taylor