Ever go to a yoga class and the room seemed filled with advanced practitioners . . . except you? You are not alone. Practically everyone has been someplace where they felt like the only beginner in the room.
Yoga, especially, can feel intimidating to beginners. Religious practitioners are very serious about their practice, and they are also often super fit looking. That alone can be enough to frighten a beginner who wants to drop a few pounds. Even if our beginner makes it to class despite all the skinny people, once she gets there, she is surrounded by people who appear to tune out the teacher and start performing their own version of acrobatics. Then the teacher starts talking about opening up your heart center, and the students start breathing like Darth Vader (ujjayi breathing). It is enough “woo woo” to scare a new person off from yoga for good.
If you ever feel like the odd person out at something new you are trying to incorporate into your life, remember, everyone else started out as a beginner, too. What is important in yoga is not that you perfect your headstand, or even if you are able to balance on your arms. What is important is that you stay open to possibility and try your best. It matters not if you are good at the asanas, the physical poses. It only matters that you try your very best.
So what if you try your best and you fall flat on your face? Trying your best is not failure. Trying something new is brave. The goal is to let your best be good enough, even if your best appears less successful than others. You will not get far in life if you give up shortly after trying something new just because other people were better than you in the beginning. If you want to be good at something, you have to practice at it.
In yoga we say the hardest part of any class is showing up. Yoga is a commitment. It takes courage to walk out of the door with the intention of going to a class; it takes patience to look for parking or wait for the bus to get you there; it costs money to get into the class, rent a mat, buy water, and to use a towel; and then the class itself takes an hour and a half of your precious time.
So once you get there, if you could not do all the poses, you might get frustrated. But, yoga is about the journey, not about the destination. Look at all the healthy things you are doing for yourself just to walk in the door. You summon up your courage, you work on your patience, you acknowledge that your body and your mind are more important than your wallet, and you surrender to the possibility of growth just by remaining in the room for 90 minutes. Everything about the practice of yoga benefits you, not just the asanas.
Your yoga practice does not have to be pretty, nor does not have to be perfect. It just has to be yours. Own what you can accomplish today. Chances are tomorrow you will be a little better for it.