The Novice Yogi: An Introduction


As cliché as it may sound, my first year of practicing yoga has certainly been life-changing. I notice that I am a far more patient and calm person than I was pre-yoga. I have more strength and flexibility, and I see more of a trend in listening to my body. I always used think that phrase sounded so corny. How exactly do you “listen” to your body, as opposed to your mind? As someone who honestly used to hate P.E. classes in high school (though, really, who absolutely loved them?), I find that yoga is what my body craves, and even if I have a bout where I’m busy and can’t get to it right away, I always find myself coming back. It’s an addiction; maybe I should have started “Yogis Anonymous” instead!

My regular yoga practice includes classes at a local studio called breathe, which is a Baron Baptiste power yoga studio. Classes are 75 minutes long and heated from 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit, and we use a vinyasa flow sequence where we sync movements with breathing in addition to some of the more rigorous standing series and balances that we practice. We tend to start out in a more comfortable position, like child’s pose or Supta Baddha Konasana (reclining bound angle pose), although it depends on the instructor. Sometimes we go straight into a flow sequence or do some ab workouts! No two classes are ever the same. (By the way, here is a great resource to look up many of the names of poses and see what they look like. Some names and poses may vary from my practice or yours!)

Instructors also get to choose music, which can be fun (say, starting a 6:00 a.m. class with something delightfully cheesy like C+C Music Factory!) or relaxing (I’m fairly certain I had a class recently where the first half of it was the same song, comprised of only three notes; this was a bit too relaxing for my taste, though). Most of the music, though, tends to be fairly popular; later, I’ll post some more “alternative” music recommendations for home workouts! Even if it’s not something I would normally listen to, music makes the classes go by much faster, and having something relaxing to listen to during Savasana is always a plus.

Why am I a “novice”? Well, I’m certainly not an expert. Even after a year, I still feel I have so much to learn—and I’m totally okay with that! (As my instructors always tend to remind the class, “It’s a yoga practice, not a yoga perfect.”) I think approaching my practice as a novice, open to new experiences, is the best way for me to learn. In fact, I started doing yoga for the express purpose of learning something new, and recognizing that I have more to learn keeps things exciting. I’ve noticed some progress so far this year, even with small things, such as now being able to do Vasisthasana (side plank) with the top leg bent as if in tree pose. I couldn’t even do side plank when I started last year! One of my new year’s goals was to do more yoga. My original goal was to go at least once per week (the old amount, only adhering more strictly than before), but I’ve since upped that to twice a week. Lately, I’ve even been exceeding that! This blog will chronicle my adventures not only of increasing my regular yoga practice, but also of trying at least one new type of yoga each month. Thankfully, Rochester has no shortage of places to practice. Keep checking in!


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