7 Things Your Yoga Teacher Wants to Tell You
Published by Kathryn Budig
I’ve taught yoga for over 10 years to students around the world and I’ve come up with a few things that every yoga teacher wants you to know. Don’t worry, I’m not here to yell or judge! But even if you’re hitting the mat a few times a week and holding every pose perfectly, you may not be getting the most from your yoga practice. Now, it’s easy to rattle off a long list of yoga no-no’s, but there are also crucial lessons your teacher is probably dying to share with you. Here are my big seven. Take notes and enjoy the ride!
You don’t need to practice yoga every day
It’s easy to fall so deeply in love with yoga that you want to practice non-stop (watch out for these 13 signs you’re addicted to yoga). I hear you—I actually found myself practicing twice a day (for up to five hours!) in my earlier years because I couldn’t get enough. Luckily, I didn’t have much else on my plate at the time. But fast-forward to today and between travel, work, and family, five hours just isn’t conducive to my health or my life. You can end up depleting your body and mind of energy if you’re not careful. Instead, respect your body and remember that you’re often just as powerful taking time off as you are pushing yourself to the max. Find your balance.
There is no such thing as a typical yoga body
If you were to ask someone what a yogi looks like they’d probably say long, lean, flexible, and strong. Pop culture has definitely influenced that stereotype, but as a teacher who travels the world meeting yogis of every age, gender and race, I can tell you clearly—there is no perfect yoga body. Some of the most amazing yoga I’ve ever seen has come from bodies that were outside that stereotype. You can be curvy, slight, young, or old—yoga is for everyone.
A calming, restorative practice is just as powerful as a strong flow class
In this day and age, we go and we go hard. We rock jobs, run families, keep up on style trends and hit our workouts like a boss. There’s so much go-go-go-go that often the perfect remedy isn’t a wicked hard yoga class but one that will balance you out by slowing you down. Taking the time to breath, stretch, relax and meditate is crucial to giving us the mental strength to carry on at a high pace. So remember that these restorative style classes are a great compliment to your power/flow classes and that you don’t always need 90 minutes of sweat to feel restored. Sometimes all it takes is 20 minutes of focus, peace and quiet.
Enjoy being a beginner
I’m a total overachiever who gets frustrated easily when I can’t master a challenge. But yoga taught me that the journey is even greater than the result. Sure, being a beginner can be a bumpy, ego-bruising time. But it’s also a time when you’re excited, ambitious, and eager to soak everything in. Enjoy this journey, because it’s only a matter of time before you figure it out, master it, and long for something new that exhilarates you the same way.
You don’t need to be flexible to be good at yoga
If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone say, “I’m not flexible enough to do yoga,” I’d be able to afford a closet full of designer shoes. It’s like saying you’re too dirty to take a bath! The whole purpose of yoga is to help you with your flexibility. Give it time—yoga is here to help you out, not embarrass or demean you. And in the meantime, try these stretches to improve your flexibility.
Difficult poses aren’t necessarily better
Yoga has officially entered the age of Instagram, where people post mind-blowing pictures of incredibly challenging poses daily (and I certainly participate… that’s me in the picture above!). They may be inspiring or frustrating depending on your skill level, but here’s the thing: Harder doesn’t always mean better! One of the most common blunders is being over ambitious, pushing towards a pose beyond your current ability and then ending up hurt. Next thing you know you’re too injured to practice for weeks all because of one silly ego slip. Remember, the goal of yoga is to feel better and find balance. So if a simple standing pose and hip opener fills you up more than a foot-behind-the-head, do what works for you! That is your perfect form of yoga.
Yoga isn’t about how you look, it’s about you feel
This one is crucial! Forget the hard poses or the fancy-patterned leggings with matching bra. All of these things are fun, but at the end of the day all that matters is how you feel. Did the practice improve your mood? Calm your mind? Improve your energy? Awesome. Were you in sweatpants? Did you comb your hair? Did you set a world record of Chaturangas? Who cares! Stick to how you feel and you’ll shine no matter what.