Meet the girls:
This girl knows how to do it all and look fabulous while doing it. Her mat isn’t the only place that she keeps her balance – Amanda rocks an intense schedule while maintaining a healthy FitKit Life! As a graphic designer in the health industry, full time student, and yoga sculpt instructor, this girl not only talks the talk, but walks the walk. Amanda lives a vivacious life of her own and inspires those around her with her infectious passion for everything that she does.
Is it a requirement to be downright adorable to teach yoga?? Maybe it’s just the post meditative glow, but Hannah is sure to put even the most stressed wolf of wall street at ease. If you weren’t convinced you needed to give yoga a try, sit down with Hannah and her bubbly, live life to the fullest attitude will change your mind. As a vinyasa, power and sculpt yoga instructor, this girl knows her stuff. Did we mention she even studied in India!
A lot of things come to mind with the word “yoga” – flexibility, meditation, Lululemon? But often times, yoga can leave us feeling mystified. What exactly are they mumbling, is Sanskrit even a language?? How am I supposed to last an entire hour in class when I can hardly touch my toes? Sound familiar? We’ve all been there.
Trying a new activity can be intimidating – especially when everyone in the class looks like Kate Hudson in a Fabletics commercial. But even the most experienced yogi’s face challenges in their practice. To help make your first, or even hundredth time, attending a yoga class a little less intimidating, we sat down with two amazing instructors to get you the inside scoop on how to start your yoga journey off on the right foot. Instructors Hannah and Amanda shared some insights from their own journeys to help demystify yoga and get you on your mat!
You Can Do This
The biggest obstacle in your way is YOU – that little voice in your head telling you that you can’t, you shouldn’t, you’ll fail. That is the voice you have to overcome to begin your journey. Amanda explains:
“Everyone starts somewhere! I can promise you that no beginner has stepped into a yoga class and walked out feeling like they knew exactly what they were doing. Your practice is a journey. I still learn new things about my practice every day. Let go of judgment, remember to breathe, and make it YOUR practice.”
One of the most common fears new yogis have is that they’re not capable or flexible enough to do yoga. But you don’t have to be a cirque du solei extra to get on your mat.
“My favorite physical benefit from yoga is definitely the balance between strength and flexibility that I have gained. I am certainly not a “naturally” flexible person, and I was never a dancer, gymnast, or skater. However, with consistent practice, my body has become so much more flexible even as my strength has increased,” said Hannah.
Even the experts started from the ground up, and it has taken time and patience to master their practice. Amanda notes:
“My favorite physical benefit is probably the strength yoga has given me. Inversions and arm balances are a great example. I looked at them when I first started and thought HECK NO, but I gave it a shot and completely fell over. But over time I can do a good handful of these positions. The feeling you get when you finally master an inversion or arm balance is so amazing. Its complete proof that your body has gotten stronger and is capable of anything you set your mind to.”
Not everyone is born a strong limber noodle, but the benefits of increasing your flexibility and strength with some dedication to your mat can make a huge impact, not only physically, but mentally too. Amanda described:
“My favorite mental benefit is probably setting an intention for class. I don’t always think of a specific person or thing every time I practice, but I’m a firm believer that by taking care of yourself first, it is going to better help you take care of and love the people in your life. Self-care is something that can be overlooked and I try to remind myself that by taking this time out of my day to stay healthy and happy I can better serve those around me.”
Use the buddy system! Amanda explains how she first got into yoga.
“Well, I first tried yoga when my roommate decided to drag me out of bed at 6 am to do a free week at CorePower yoga down the street. Little did I know it would completely change my life.”
Making a date out of your first class, or bringing a friend along, can make things less intimidating so you can relax and just breathe – or have someone to laugh alongside you when you try to pull that super advanced move no one should actually try – I am supposed to put my leg where?? Many studios offer discounts, if not free, classes to new students, so there is nothing to lose. Try,try,try! Sometimes finding the right studio AND the right class for you can make all the difference. Hannah explains:
“I would advise someone who is new to yoga to check out a recommended studio and attend a class that is appropriate for their level. I have seen so many new students walk into intermediate or advanced classes and walk out feeling confused and unsuccessful. In yoga we call this idea “vinyasa karma” or approaching a yoga practice in a steady step-by-step progression. The yogi slowly builds on their practice over time and without the voice of the ego. So find a beginner’s oriented class with a teacher who is knowledgeable and compassionate!”.
Now Make It a Habit
Once you find a studio and a class format you love, it’s time to become a regular. You don’t have to drop your entire life, move to a meditation retreat and practice silence to make room for your practice. Eat, Pray, Love anyone? But once you’ve felt the benefits of a regular yoga practice on your body, life, and those around you, spending time on yourself, will seem like less of a splurge and more of a necessity. Amanda enlightens us with her journey:
“Since I started yoga I have been a full time student, have a job, and what I like to tell myself, a decent social life (ha!). From the outside looking in, my day to day schedule may seem almost too busy to try and fit yoga in almost every day too, but without it – work, school, and life – become that much more overwhelming. That’s what I love about my practice. I don’t think, okay I really should make it to my mat today and get my workout in. I think okay I WANT to make it to my mat today because I need that hour that’s just for me to unplug and re-center. As I said before, you are going to take care of the other people and things in your life a lot better if you remember to take care of yourself too!”
So enjoy the journey and let your mind be still. You deserve it! Teachers often speak to the importance of savasana pose (the one at the end where you lay on the floor and try not to fall asleep). Yes I can sense your eye roll, savasana? Important? Can’t I just pack up my mat and leave? No! There’s more to this pose than what meets the eye. Hannah speaks to its importance:
“The benefits to savasana, in my mind, are never ending. It is the epitome of what a yoga practice is. Savasana is a time for the practitioner to turn within and realize their internal self. When the body is in a state of complete stillness and support (as in savasana) there is finally time and space to let the mind settle and let go of any holding on. This settling of the mind brings about great relaxation which can be carried out long after savasana. Time in savasana also allows the yogi space to simply listen to the breath and experience that moment in time. Rarely do we actually let ourselves be in a single moment.”
You Are A Yogi
Congrats! You did it. The last step is setting an intention. What is it that you want to get out of your yoga practice? It can be as simple as holding your downward dog, or something bigger than yourself.
Now that you officially identify as a yogi it’s time to share the love and take your intentions off your mat and into your everyday life. But don’t think you’ve mastered yoga just yet! Remember Hannah telling you to let go of your ego? Always stay humble. Yoga is not a destination but a life journey.
Want more? Check out the full interviews with Amanda and Hannah here.