As a yoga teacher, there are two excuses I hear around 90% of the time when I invite someone new to try yoga: it’s either “but I can’t touch my toes” or, if the person that’s being invited is a man, “but it’s for women”. Insert a sigh and then, depending on the mood and the day, either a smile that clearly marks me waiving a white flag or an explanation why you don’t need to touch your toes in order to come to a yoga class and that yoga was basically started by men so you’ll just need to find another excuse why you just can’t find the time to work on yourself for an hour per week. ;)
But to be completely honest, I do understand how seeing all those fancy pretzel poses (hint: that is less than 1% of yoga) usually performed by skinny women in ridiculously tight clothing that Instagram and the rest of social media perpetuate, can be intimidating and sending the wrong---or at least a twisted---message.
So here are 3 reasons that I’m hoping will convince you to try yoga after all (fingers crossed):
1. It will teach you how to be more present
All the mindfulness practices, including yoga, teach us how to be here and now. Sometimes they do that by bringing us out of our heads and into your bodies (yoga) and other times it’s by focusing on our breath (meditation). When it comes to applying these skills outside of a yoga class, can you remember the last time you were really present with someone and not been distracted by either your thoughts or your phone? To me, there’s nothing sweeter than the full presence of someone that is not constantly interrupted by phone messages and social media alerts. It makes me feel valued and appreciated, while at the same time enables the other person to really stay here and now, which, if we’re honest, is pretty much the only thing we have.
2. It will teach you how to sit (and deal) with your emotions
Yoga is regarded as meditation in movement. In meditation, we observe our feeling and emotions and just watch them pass by while trying to not attach meanings to them or to label them as either “good” or “bad.” One of my favorite quotes that sums up our emotions and our feeling perfectly is by a Tibetan Buddhist teacher Pema Chödrön. She says, “You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.” And some days it rains, some days it’s sunny and some days there’s a literal sh*t storm but your basic goodness is always there, waiting for the storm to pass.
But why is dealing with our emotions even important? I can imagine we all hate it when people project their stuff on us, right? I don’t know about you but I can remember pretty clearly how crappy that felt in the past and you know what they say, don’t do onto others what you don't want to be done unto you. These skills can definitely take our relationships---family, friendship or romantic relationships---to another level and are worth coming to a yoga class for.
3. It will make you more connected to your body
Do you see how I didn’t say “it will make you more flexible”? Sure, yoga might make you bendier but flexibility is a long process and completely overrated. What is more amazing than being able to touch your toes, is being connected to your body. Yoga teaches you how to listen to your body instead of your ego (don’t get me wrong, we all need egos to survive!) and not just when it comes to physical exercise. And if you think that doesn’t affect all the other aspects of your life, I’ve got two words for you: sex life.
Yep, you’ve read that correctly. While your sex life might be amazing, wait until you really get to feel your body and stay in the present moment. I’ll leave you with this and let your imagination do the rest but let’s just say your partner (and yourself) will probably have a big appreciation for this new hobby of yours that you’ve just started.
Personally, there’s nothing hotter than a man who’s in tune with himself and his body, knows how to deal with their own emotions without projecting onto others and can really stay present and in the moment. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone when it comes to this opinion.
So, will I be seeing you at my next yoga class? ;)