But maybe, like me, you just haven’t found the right teacher yet?
Despite my doubts about my yogic abilities, I like to keep an open mind – and I’ve seen how beneficial a regular yoga practice has been for my wife over the last few years.
I wasn’t quite brave enough to dive back into live classes again right away, so I thought that learning at home might be a good way to build my confidence.
I was also lucky that my wife already owns yoga mats and blocks which meant there was no barrier to entry. She showed me salute to the sun which I did first thing in the morning for a while, but just as I have found guided meditation useful in establishing a regular practice, I knew I would benefit from having some lessons on tap that I could try at any time of the day.
And so when I noticed someone I follow on Twitter recommending Yoga with Adriene’s YouTube channel, I decided to give it a try.
Adriene Mishler is a yoga teacher, actor and dog lover from Austin, Texas, who has teamed up with her filmmaking friend Christopher Sharpe to bring her uplifting approach to yoga to the world.
I immediately felt encouraged by Adriene, whereas other yoga videos have made me feel intimidated. Her unpretentious humour and focus on ‘finding what feels good’ rather than a rigidly prescriptive approach made me feel it was ok to try my best without the need to be perfect. As she says, it’s getting to the mat each day that’s important (and often most difficult!)
With over 600,000 (and counting) YouTube subscribers, the YwA community is growing every day, and if the multitude of positive comments on the various YwA social media profiles are anything to go by, people are really getting something out of being part of it.
The production values on the videos are extremely high, without losing that personal connection – I definitely feel that I’m learning directly from someone who has my best interests at heart. I also really like the music on the early videos, courtesy of fellow Austin resident Shakey Graves.
Whilst i found the 40 minute beginners class quite challenging, Adriene’s 20 minute intro to yoga for ‘complete’ beginners was perfect to get me started, especially when I combined it with following her ‘Foundations of Yoga’ series which has an in-depth guide to some of the main yoga poses.
I was still only doing it occasionally though, which, let’s face it, is of limited benefit. Thankfully, in 2015 the Yoga with Adriene ’30 Days of Yoga’ series was launched. I tried it in January and made it as far as 16 days and then promptly gave up (for reasons/excuses I can’t quite remember or convince myself of now).
But, perseverance is the key to progress. I went back to the 20 minutes beginners video several times to make sure I could still manage the basics. Then I dove back in to the 30 days challenge on April 1st and did all 30 days in a row during the same month – to my own delight and no small measure of surprise!
There were quite a few poses I really struggled with, but I kept in mind that perfection is not the aim of any practice, and I laughed it off when, for example, I repeatedly fell on my arse after trying the trickier balance poses. There are also several opportunities to choose the beginner’s version of poses that are surely only possible for seasoned yogis.
And despite some ongoing problems with my wrists and hands (which have been an issue for years) I actually surprised myself by how many of the poses I could manage.
It was quite emotional on the last day. Yes, I’d managed to train for and complete two half-marathons back in 2013, but somehow managing to practice yoga for 30 days straight felt like an even more remarkable achievement for me, perhaps because I never self-identified as the kind of person who would be able to do yoga on a regular basis. Also, the fact that it is a full body workout makes it more holistic than running which tends to take its toll on your knees after a while and does little for upper body strength.
If you’re a newbie to yoga, I’d definitely recommend spending some time with Adriene’s 20 minute complete beginner’s class and Foundations of Yoga series. Once you’ve built up some confidence, the 30 Days of Yoga challenge is well worth committing to – and you can even go deeper by making a donation, meaning you can download the videos and get encouraging emails each day (as well as supporting someone who is very generously offering so much goodness for free online).