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What Keeps You From Your Yoga Mat?    - by Bristol Yoga Studio


I talk to people all of the time about yoga.  People who have been practicing for a long time, people who are brand new to the practice, people who teach yoga, who want to teach yoga, people who have never heard of or done yoga and people who think yoga is a religion or a cult.


The people I’ve been thinking most about these past few days, though, are the ones who have told me they want to come to yoga, but have good reason why they can’t.  So, in no particular order, here are my thoughts on all these reasons to not go to yoga:


  1. “I don’t have the time” -  A basic tenet of yoga is to practice presence – right here, right now.  The present moment is no set period of time.  Since I had my son three years and a half years ago, I have been (not so secretly anymore) doing half sun salutations in the bathroom.  It takes less than a minute, allows me to reconnect to my body, my breath and my life right now. 

  1. “I can’t afford it” – I just searched “Free Yoga Class” on YouTube and it came back with more than 3,000 results. On top of that, the local library has a number of DVDs and lots of cable stations have FreeZone fitness classes, including yoga classes.  Also, many studios, including my own, offer trades where you can do small jobs for the studio and earn free classes.  All you have to do is ask. 

  1. “I don’t know how to do it and I’m embarrassed about my fitness level” – Here’s a little yoga secret:  There’s no way to do this practice wrong.  The whole point is to listen to yourself and your body.  Yoga poses are designed to allow the practitioner to find an ‘edge’ and be curious about it.  It doesn’t matter where your edge is, it only matters that you let yourself explore.  True, you can over exert yourself if you don’t listen to your body and be patient with your posture practice.  We all started somewhere, you might as well start here. 

  1. “I haven’t found an instructor I like” – I totally get it.  Not every instructor is for everyone.  That shouldn’t keep you from going to yoga.  Take what works for you from what’s being offered by the instructor and leave or ignore what doesn’t.  Yoga instructors are people, and people are all different, and sometimes people are just having bad days.  Keep practicing.  

  2. “It’s too cold in yoga studios”  - Wear layers or ask your instructor to turn up the heat

  3. “I can’t do yoga, I am a smoker” -   Quitting smoking is hard, I know from personal experience. I recognize that despite its benefits, quitting smoking might not yet be on your agenda.  .A few minutes of full breath in a yoga class does wonders for smokers.  If you begin your yoga practice now, you may find that you begin to gravitate toward healthier choices, and eliminating things that aren’t supporting you (like smoking) may become easier. 

  4.  “Yoga isn’t enough of a workout for me” –Vinaysa yoga is aerobic and yoga asana is weight bearing work.  In a recent article in the New York Times the “Burpee” was noted as potentially the ‘best’ exercise there was.  I can help but notice its similarity to a sun salutation.  You might consider jogging to your local studio for your practice, or maybe do the whole asana practice standing on one leg. 

  5. “I have an injury, I can’t do yoga” or “My doctor said I shouldn’t do yoga for a while” – I am not a doctor, and I never advise my yoga students to go against medical advice.  But I will say that yoga is an individualized practice to support your body wherever you are.  I frequently will modify poses to meet my body where it is.    The poses adapt to your body; you shouldn't adapt your body to the poses.  If your doctor tells you that you can’t practice yoga, it’s ok to ask what poses or practices your doctor wants you to avoid so you don’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. 


 Bristol Yoga Studio, in Bristol, RI.



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