We’ll be the first to admit that studios filled with people doing headstands can feel intimidating. Enter yoga teacher Adriene Mishler. She and her business partner, Christopher Sharpe, started the YouTube channel Yoga with Adriene almost three and a half years ago—so people could dip their toes in the downward-facing dog waters without having to feel like they’re on display. If you’re still anxious about hitting the mat, Mishler wants you to know that the best thing you can do is just commit to showing up.
“You don’t have to be flexible, you don’t have to be thin, you don’t have to chant, ‘Om shanti shanti,'” she says. “But you do have to show up for yourself and have a willingness to open your mind and open your heart. And then I think you’ll be able to find what feels good.”
Here are her other tips for nervous beginners.
1. Classes are optional
Even Mishler admits to occasionally feeling a little daunted by them. That’s why she says it’s smart to practice at home first with a yoga video, where you’re free from the sneaking suspicion that other people might be judging you.
2. Taking breaks is 100% O.K.
The beauty of a yoga video is holding the power to hit “stop” whenever you’re no longer up to its demands. “It’s a lot easier to stop the video than to walk out of a yoga class,” says Mishler. You should know that you can always hang out in child’s pose during classes to take a break, too—even experienced yogis do this.
3. Doing the same routine over and over again is smart
Variety is the spice of life, but perhaps not for beginners in yoga. “It’s nice to return to a sequence and see just how your body reacts to something a second time,” says Mishler. “I think people can be delighted in their muscle memory. The body usually remembers things faster and evolves faster than we think. We just have to give ourselves a chance by returning to the practice regularly.”
4. Fitness is a journey
“Even if you don’t like yoga, it might lead you to discovering something new about yourself, something valuable that will lead you to something else that feels good,” says Mishler. “We always say that ‘the candy lies in the journey.’” When you start viewing yoga that way—as a process that’s worth the endeavor rather than just a means to an end, there’s no reason not give it a test run.
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