Yoga is Hard, but Don’t Let that Stop You
Yoga is hard. But, don’t let that you stop from trying it.
People assume that I was naturally good at yoga when I first started. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I was not naturally good at yoga, but I have been practicing for over 20 years. If there is one thing I am certain of, it’s this—if you start practicing yoga today and keep practicing, you will radically change your body, mind and most likely also your life.
You don’t need to be able to perform challenging poses when you first start. In fact, it’s better for the inner work of the practice if you cannot easily do many of the poses. Students of yoga learn far more from the poses that feel impossible than from the poses that feel easy. I understand how intimidating it is to see masters of yoga poses effortlessly perform what seems like circus acts when something like a forward bend seems out of reach. As a student I have flopped, fallen, flailed, face-planted and failed in so many ways that I’ve lost count. There were so many times that I thought this yoga just wasn’t for me. I looked at my small body with short arms and thigh thighs and thought that if only my arms were longer or my butt smaller, yoga would be easier for me. I wished I’d started yoga at a younger age (I took my first class at 19!). I wondered if there was something wrong with me specifically. But, over years of practice, I found the way through the impossible to the possible. And I know you can too.
When I first started yoga there was very little discussion about modifying the poses to be accessible. There was a mystical attitude about practice. The legend states that if you just practice all is coming. I needed something more. Maybe because I’m an analytical person or maybe because I’m impatient. I wanted to understand just how to practice to be sure I was pointed in the right direction. Most of the technique that I teach now comes from my 20+ years of direct experience as a teacher and student. I’ve learned that representation matters when it comes to truly making yoga accessible.
My new book Get Your Yoga On is a place for you to find your path to this practice. Including modifications and different student models for every single pose, you will be able to see yourself in the practice. I believe in the need for diversity in the yoga world for the simple reason that we need to see someone who looks like us doing yoga to believe that we can do it too. When I first started all the high level teachers featured in videos and workshops were tall guys with long limbs and big muscles. When I saw them lift up it didn’t make me believe that I could do it too. There was no one who looked like me who could do any of the lift ups or was a respected teacher. In fact I had people tell me my thighs were too big and my arms too small to ever have hope at getting into some of poses. I’m so glad I decided to choose the small voice of faith over the very loud voice of doubt.
Until you see someone you can identify with practicing yoga you won’t feel like it’s for you. And until you see someone with your size, shape, skin color, hair color, eye color, that the world elevates, respects, values, it is so hard to think that the world will lift you up, respect you or value you too. You don’t need the world to love you to be worthy. But you also don’t need the world to stuff images of the same uniform vision of what beauty, strength or power is down your throat. It shouldn’t be that hard to validate different types of bodies as equally worthy of love, but for some reason it is.
I can’t tell you how many people have told me at some point that they were inspired by my strength because I wasn’t a tall skinny person. Well, let me offer my muscular thighs and petite height as an inspiration for all the other short thick bodies out there and let me tell you this. There is nothing wrong with you. You’re beautiful. You can lift up if you want to, but you don’t need to do it to prove your worthiness. The perfect body for the practice is the one have. Learn to love it and celebrate it with every breath and you find so much strength in yourself.