How It Feels To Be NEW To Yoga

Suzanne Nagel
October 18, 2022

I was sore after classes. I had a terrible mat that was bought at a super store long ago before my son Zach was born. Something that I thought was perfectly adequate and had no understanding that the quality of my yoga mat would GREATLY influence my experience. How could a piece of rubber be really any different? I slid and tried to hold myself in Down Dog, could not fathom a low push up or how to stop myself from my belly plopping down and my elbows flying out to the side. I existed with this piece of crap mat for a couple years maybe.

It’s been a minute since I was a brand-new student of yoga.

My very first experience at age 25: my therapist told me to do yoga.  Found some classes in the yellow pages. Called the number, left a message. The instructor called back, told me where and when. I went and signed up with a personal check for a 6-week session.  

I couldn’t do much of the deeper stretches- my hips and hamstrings were not in agreement with the poses.

But I did like the experience, what the instructor said, how she inspired me to move. I liked HER. I liked how she moved and her sentiments.

I stuck with yoga through my pregnancy (prenatal) and afterwards as a new mom I continued to dabble when I could.

Things changed for me when vinyasa hit the scene in the early 2000’s.  Up until that point, I had only practiced Hatha yoga, much slower, no transitions or sequencing. No music.

But this new way to do yoga inspired me. I became in love with the practice even as it kicked my ass, physically and mentally. Yes, mentally. Because you see, I had not been involved in this type of self-study.  A moving meditation and workout with music that made me dig deeper into my body and mind. I became clear, focused, healthy, strong. And I noticed the impact the yoga practice had on my overall health and well-being.

I was sore after classes. I had a terrible mat that was bought at a super store long ago before my son Zach was born. Something that I thought was perfectly adequate and had no understanding that the quality of my yoga mat would GREATLY influence my experience.  How could a piece of rubber be really any different?

I slid and tried to hold myself in Down Dog, could not fathom a low push up or how to stop myself from my belly plopping down and my elbows flying out to the side.  I existed with this piece of crap mat for a couple years maybe.

At a certain point, it dawned on me, I felt called to teach this practice that had been a part of my life for just about a decade. But that was CRAZY. I was a consistent student but could not perform any advanced asana and still needed to develop more upper body strength.  Who was I to teach yoga?

I put it off. It was expensive. I’m a mom and have my own son and two step kids at the time. I had a job, and my life was busy. Where would I find time or money for this and why in the world would I believe I could even do this or if I would even like doing it??

Well, as they say, the rest is history. The first thing I did when I was in training was get a new quality yoga mat. And HOLY SHIT.   Best money ever spent.  I could really start to train my body to refine and align myself while my feet gripped the mat. And my Down Dog/ Hi to Low Push Up changed too!

So now here I am, at a very different place in my yoga journey.  Decades later, and the world of yoga has changed. It is a thing. People even argue about it. Some people don’t like the innovations and evolution. Some consider themselves purists. Some say you “should do this” - “should do that.”  

I am confronted by new students all the time. Emails or dropping in. They want me to shed light and take away the mystery and explain it all. And I can’t. You just have to do it. You have to do it a lot and for a while and then you will understand. We will then have a language that we can discuss.  I remember being new to the practice like it is yesterday. I remember a time before yoga (TBY) and when it was a foreign experience, intimidating, exhilarating, grounding, NEW. I remember being pissed off to be told to breathe. I see my hands sliding, my misunderstanding a cue and doing it wrong and trying to stretch in ways my body didn’t want to.

But I got my new mat. I spent the time and energy to learn and teach it. I knew what it meant to me and what it did for me.  And I stayed with it. I have been doing yoga longer than anything other single thing in my life. It is my longest relationship. And when you come to the studio, I will do my best to make it come to life for you.  I see you, the new students, in class, on your mat, deciding whether you like it, if it’s worth it, if you can handle or even want to handle the poses or what comes just beyond the poses…

My advice you did not ask for: Get a good mat, then get on your mat, come to class, watch how the layers peel away, dive in and get to know yourself and how you move.

And always hold dear that time when it was all New.  

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