Body Positivity

The Body Positivity Blog

Everyone can do yoga! Here are three simple things to know before you commence your journey on the mat this year. By Jane Lambert

It’s January, so traditionally, now is the time to make a whole heap of promises to yourself about what you want to achieve in the coming 12 months.

But in the last few years, it’s become apparent that new year’s resolutions aren’t actually that great. They inherently imply that there’s something wrong with the ‘you’ you are now, and that the first day of the first month of the year is the perfect time to put that right and start changing everything about yourself. Just so you know, there’s nothing wrong with who you are now, and you don’t need to change anything.

But then there’s yoga. Anyone who does yoga wants everyone else to do yoga, because we know how good it feels. Whether that’s a session a week in your local community centre, or a regular daily practice in your own home, there’s nothing better than that yoga feeling. So, while new year’s resolutions should generally be a thing of the past, if you’re starting 2020 with an idea that you’d like to make yoga a regular part of your life, I’m here to support that.

There’s nothing to say that your first class has to be in January. But January always follows December, and if you’re anything like me, December is a month full of ‘stuff’. It’s full of social commitments, food, drink, last-minute work that needs to be finished, travelling all over the place to visit family. It’s busy, and therefore January is the perfect time to put a stop to all that and find some time for yourself. And is there a better place to do that than on a yoga mat?

If the start of the year is when you’re finding yourself at your first ever yoga class, or even your first class in a while, I have three golden rules for you.

1. You already have a yoga body

There’s a meme that I’ve seen repeatedly that says: ‘How to get a yoga body: 1) Have a body 2) Do yoga.’ This is possibly the truest thing you’ll ever see on the internet. You don’t need to get in shape to go to yoga. You don’t need to be flexible. You have a body, and therefore you can do yoga. Don’t let any amount of slim bodies showing off their handstands fool you. There’s a big difference between the yoga you see as you scroll through a social media feed, and the yoga you practice when you get on your mat. Print this sentence out and read it aloud every day: I have a yoga body.

2. Yoga isn’t designed to help you lose weight

While there are some high-intensity yoga classes that fuse the practice with an element of cardio, the truth is that a yoga class isn’t an exercise class. It’s not about losing any weight you think you need to get rid of after Christmas, and it’s not about fitting into a smaller dress size by the time you hit the beach in July. Exercising is great, of course. It’s especially great if you can separate the idea of exercise from the idea of losing weight, and simply see it as a way to have fun and get fit. But yoga isn’t about that, and the sooner you realise it, the better off you’ll be. The people that you see online who have washboard abs and toned muscles are not that way simply because they practice yoga every day; they are committed to an intense fitness regime. Yoga is about so much more than the physical shapes you make on your mat, and the more you practice, the more you'll come to realise this.

Body Positivity

3. Everyone is more focused on themselves than on you

Yoga forces you to adjust your focus inwards, instead of outwards. You are encouraged to concentrate on your breath, to listen to your body, and to tune everything else out. You’ll be so busy doing this that you won’t notice what anyone else is doing. Follow this thought process through logically, and you’ll realise that if you’re not interested in your fellow students, why would they be interested in you? Don’t take it personally; I’m sure that the lady to your left will happily pass the time with you before and after class, but during class, she’s more concerned with herself. Once you’ve embraced this idea, you’ll stop worrying about what you look like in comparison to the way other people look, and you’ll be able to relax into your class.

Om Magazine

First published in November 2009, OM Yoga magazine has become the most popular yoga title in the UK. Available from all major supermarkets, independents and newsstands across the UK. Also available on all digital platforms.