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If you’ve never taken yoga, you might be intimidated by all of the different styles, studios, and fancy yoga outfits that are available. For a beginner, yoga can sometimes have a “cult-like” feel. Believe me, I’ve been there.

Yet the goal of yoga is to be in inclusive, accepting, and welcoming to all body types, fitness levels, and brands of pants. Before I got into my current yoga routine, I was anxious about the super-flexible bodies and “asana” names that seemed so foreign to me. However, my yoga practice is something my body now craves every week.

Some helpful advice from my yoga instructor can help offer reassurance to any beginning yogi.

Here are 7 Tips for Surviving Yoga:

1. Breath is More Important Than the Pose

The goal of yoga is less about showing off with fancy poses and more about staying calm when you are feeling challenged. Finding a slow, steady breath is at the core of yoga. Deep inhales and controlled exhales will set the rhythm and help guide you.

2. We All Have Our Favorite Poses…And Least Favorite

If you’re taking your first class, you might find just one pose that feels really good in your body. You will probably also find a pose that feels really uncomfortable. Remember that everyone in that yoga studio feels the same way, even the instructor. We all have our talents and our weaknesses. Just do your best and let go of the pressure to love every pose.

Letting go of Perfection to Embrace Practice

3. It’s Community, Not Competition

Yoga is as much about building community as it is about stretching and fitness. Anyone can access countless free yoga videos online. However, there is a unique atmosphere created in a yoga studio, where we all struggle, breathe, and flow together. I love when I hear another student laugh at the difficulty of a pose. Embrace the community of yoga, introduce yourself to fellow students, and soak up the warmth of community.

4. Wear Whatever Makes You Comfortable

You don’t need to go buy fancy new pants or invest in designer yoga tops to fit in. You can shavasana in generic sweat pants and your old college t-shirt just fine.

5. You Know Your Body Better Than Any Teacher or Fitness Expert

You know what injuries you’ve overcome and any areas that are tighter. Modify, adjust, and be smart. Your yoga instructor wants you back next week. She doesn’t want you sitting on the couch, struggling with a pulled hamstring.

6. We’re All Still Students…Even the Teacher

Yoga is a “practice”. It is something that we only get better at, never perfect. All students are learning and growing. Remember that everyone in that studio was once a beginner. Even the show-off who can do handstands and backbends once had his “first yoga class”. He’s likely just been practicing longer

7. Never Compare What Is Going on Internally for You to What is Going on Externally for Someone Else

This is one of the most crucial lessons my yoga instructor repeats each week. I love the simplicity of just focusing on your own body and letting go of any influence from other students. We all have our struggles and our stories. Just come back to that calm breathing and do your best.

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