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Dear Yoga Friend ......

By Natalie Shoemaker

FRI JUL 17, 2020

Dear Yoga Friend

(Adapted from Julia Lee via Elephant Journal)

I know. Trying anything new can be scary. Voluntarily placing yourself in a room full of people wearing spandex clothing and moving and breathing together can be terrifying, overwhelming and daunting. (And if that isn’t vulnerable enough….then the teacher asks me to put my butt in the air in downward facing dog !!???…..and there are people right behind me??? Seriously? ) Please do try to set aside your fears. This could be the beginning of great shift in your life.

You may think that you’re too inflexible or too weak to practice yoga.

Don’t worry; we all have our moments of rigidity and weakness (physically and emotionally). Start where you are. Let yourself work from the ground up, piece by piece, and allow yourself the possibility to be so amazed at what your body and your breath can do. Once we have all the pieces, then the puzzle naturally comes together…..make the gathering of the pieces a joyful, openhearted journey.

Why do they call it a yoga “practice”?

None of us are above practice – that’s why it’s called a yoga “practice” - there is always so much more to be learned, not just for you, but for me, and for every yogi on the planet. In fact, the most challenging aspect of yoga isn’t about opening up the body; it’s about opening up the mind. The more that we can adapt a beginner's mind, a willingness to start from ground zero—the more that we can receive. Just imagine all the possibilities that would open up to you if you let go of all the ideas and misconceptions you hold around what you like and what you don’t like, what you can or cannot do.

You may fear that you won’t know what you’re doing.

Life doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Every one of us goes through moments where we don’t know what the heck is going on, and every expert at anything was once a beginner, too. Trying something new and moving out of your comfort zone takes real guts….celebrate your courage to join a yoga class, celebrate every time that you arrive on your mat. You are in wonderful company.

You may have convinced yourself that you don’t have the right clothes, or the right mat, or even the right gender or age to be a yogi.

Despite what you may have been led to believe, yoga isn’t really about what you’re wearing or what brand of mat you own. Yoga practice is simply about the beautiful, breath-by-breath experience of being present inside your body. It doesn’t matter if you’re clad head-to-toe in designer yoga wear, or wearing a ragged t-shirt and shorts. It doesn’t matter if you’re on a $100 mat in a luxury studio or if you’re on a towel in your living room. Male, female, young, old, thin, curvy, wealthy, poor—these are all more boundaries that we put up to distinguish ourselves from the experience of being human, when the goal of yoga practice is always to unify and simply be.

When we move and breathe together, we recognize that we share more commonalities than we do differences; that really, despite our age, gender, sexual orientation, belief system, or economic status, it’s all about just being good, kind, happy people.

You may think that yoga just isn’t for you.

Getting into yoga can be a bit like dating: sometimes you hit it off with the first style or teacher you meet, and sometimes you don’t. But there are so many amazing teachers out there to learn from, and there are so many styles of yoga to try – something for everyone.

What the heck is yoga anyway?

Yoga is not just physical exercise, nor is it a weight-loss program. Yoga is not only for flexible people or for women. Yoga is not about bending like a pretzel. Yoga is not about looking like a woman in a magazine doing a head stand. Yoga is not a religion, or a cult, or a fad. Yoga is not a cure-all pill. Yoga is for EVERY BODY….if you can breathe, you can yoga. Yoga is an experience that will tune you into your body’s own innate intelligence, that will have you moving out of your head and into your heart. Yoga is a stick of dynamite that will blast away your ideas of who you’ve been, who you are and who you can be and simply leave you gaping in the face of your own beauty….just as you are today. Yoga is a bridge to loving yourself.

May your yoga journey leave you challenged, inspired, humbled, and above all, the best possible version of yourself that you aspire to be. It is my honor to be alongside you on this journey.

Namaste