5 Reasons Why You’re Not A Bad Yogi

Ever feel like every cell in your body is screaming at you to not do yoga? We’ve all been there. Whether we’re tired, hungry, hot, or we’re just strapped for time, our myriad of reasons often get in the way of us furthering our practice.

But does this make us bad yogis?

Of course not! We all have days where we feel like our practice isn’t up to scratch. The key is to determine whether you’re making silly excuses to avoid yoga, or genuinely shouldn’t be on the mat that day.

Let’s break down a few of those reasons that instantly come to mind when we start to excuse ourselves from getting into downward dog.

I skipped class today because I was tired

Got a bad night’s sleep? Perhaps you’re feeling a cold coming on? Or maybe you’ve been doing a lot of other forms of physical exercise? Whatever your reason for feeling physically exhausted, honour that. There’s no point forcing yourself through the asanas if it’s going to cause you pain and more fatigue. Of course, yoga can be used to energize the body too! But if you’ve under slept, focus on getting your energy levels up through some old-fashioned pillow time.

I hate, hate, hate that particular asana because it makes me angry, upset or anxious

Ever lie down in pigeon pose and feel the water works coming on? How about when you’re twisting in chair pose twist (Parivrtta Utkatasana), and the pain in your thighs is literally begins making you angry? Relax – you’re completely normal. We all store our emotions in various parts of our bodies, and each person internalizes emotions differently. Through yoga practice we’re actually cleansing our emotional bodies by releasing blocked energy so it can flow freely again. The asanas can be triggers for these emotional locks, and any emotional discomfort signals that a release is taking place. Unless you’re genuinely anxious about the physical pain in your body, you will survive this pose, and feel all the better for it. But if you do feel any severe or electrical physical pain, stop right away!

I don’t like my yoga teacher

So you’ve finally found a yoga studio that you love and a timetable that matches your schedule. You feel a great connection with your regular yoga teacher – but then one day they’re not there. A sub takes you through the asanas, and you find yourself getting angrier and angrier. Whether it’s their voice, their fondness for a certain pose or choice in music, you have categorically decided that they are a very, very bad yoga teacher.

Except… they’re probably not. If the reasons you dislike a particular teacher’s style have nothing to do with their level of professionalism or knowledge of yoga, it all comes down to a matter of personal taste. Not that they’re a bad yoga teacher – maybe they’re just not the yoga teacher for you. If this is the case, first find out whether they’re a temporary or permanent sub. If they’re only hanging around short term, try not to let them bother you and consider it as all part of the learning experience. If they’re planning on hanging around for a while, you can try and attend different classes with other teachers, or you might have to find a new studio.

I don’t want to embarrass myself

Here’s the truth; Serena Williams wasn’t always a world champion. Neither was Michael Jordan. They all started from somewhere, and guess what? So are you! You don’t arrive at your first yoga class, let alone your 30th, as a master of the entire range of asanas. Stability, balance and strength are all attributes you develop over time through consistent yoga practice. Don’t give up just because crescent pose or tree pose make you wobbly. Steady your breath, find your drishti or gaze, and stay calm. Like the famous Ashtanga guru Pattahbi Jois once said, ‘‘All is coming.”

I don’t know how to om

Om is a mantra or chant typically recited at the start and end of a yoga class. It can represents many things, but essentially it signifies the seed of all creation. Its vibrations, which begin in your stomach, are a potent spiritual and creative force. It has a frequency of 43 Hz, which is the same frequency of everything found in nature. When we chant, we’re aurally connecting ourselves with the universe. It’s powerful stuff!

If you’ve been going to a more modern yoga studio for a while and one day find yourself at a more traditional class, the chanting might be unsettling for you at first. Is it pronounced ‘om’, as in ‘mom’? Or ‘oom’ as in ‘bedroom’?

Om actually consists of four syllables:

  • ‘A’, pronounced as ‘awe’, which starts in your chest.
  • ‘U’, pronounced as a drawn-out ‘oo’, which moves to your upper palate.
  • ‘M’, pronounced as a drawn out ‘mmmmm’, which vibrates your lips and teeth.
  • The fourth syllable is not really a syllable at all, but is infinite silence. Yep, that awkward pause between the end of the ‘om’ and your yoga teacher speaking is intentional.

If you feel too uncomfortable chanting Om, don’t worry about – just listening and enjoying its vibration can provide you with tremendous benefits.

The take-away

Yoga isn’t about beating yourself up, or being better than the person on the mat next to you. Having a bad moment doesn’t make you a bad yogi, it makes you human.

Yoga is about continual, purposeful and intentional improvement, and all of that takes time. Whether you’re new to yoga or you’re a seasoned practitioner, you’ll always experience off-days. Learn to work through what’s triggering your resistance and your practice will improve, slowly but surely.

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Camilla Peffer

Camilla is a writer based in Melbourne, Australia. She began practising yoga 2.5 years ago after taking a break from running. You can find her perfecting her handstands, eating her way across her adopted home town, or bothering people for a vino.

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