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Upward Dog, Yoga for MenRecently, I was asked by someone as to what to expect from his first yoga class. This person, oh, I’ll call him…”Wayne”, really wants to go down the yoga rabbit hole so to speak, but he’s intimidated by thought of being splayed-out, sweaty and inflexible in front of a room full of strangers, uncertain as to what posture to do next, or if he’d even be ABLE to do whatever posture comes next.

Yeah, I get that. Totally.

Ok, so try being splayed-out, sweaty and inflexible in front of room full of strangers AND being the only guy in the room AND worried that your…umm…”bits and pieces” could be on full display at any time during the next tri-dog or shoulderstand.

Aaaaand breathe…
but I digress…

So I said to him, “I have to be honest. It is GOING to be difficult and you simply have to expect that and move past it, because the pot o’ gold at the other end is completely worth it”.

How many other people are out there, secretly wishing that they had the courage to try a class, but are afraid to give it a go because they let their ego dictate their desire?

Your damn ego

Probably quite a few and most of them are guys. And that’s sad because that same attitude probably applies to most new endeavors in their lives that they’d like to try but they’ve unconsciously allowed their frightened ego sit in the driver’s seat.

So I decided to jot down a few tips that you might want to consider next time you want to try something new. Yes, these were written with Wayne’s yoga dilemma in mind, but you can apply them to pretty much anything in life that requires you to dig down a little deeper than normal to overcome your fears and transcend that dastardly ego.

1. You just have to go in with no expectations of what you will be able to, or won’t be able to do

Honestly, you’re gonna be rusty and somewhat inflexible, it’s going to be difficult and you will most likely become frustrated. These are all perfectly normal and expected, that’s what it’s like in beginning yoga. That’s the foundation from which your future growth is built. Think about it, you’re inflexible…that’s WHY you do yoga. Be OK with that.

2. There is a saying in yoga: “Honor your limits”

That means to pay attention to what your body is telling you and adjust accordingly. And don’t push past what you feel is safe because your ego is telling you that you have to be able to stretch to a certain point. You can’t and you won’t, not on your first go-round. Know that, love it and work with it.

3. You are your own teacher and your own student

The onus is on you to learn as much as you can, to remember to breathe, and to remain dedicated in your practice. Yes, someone will be at the front of the room leading the flows and asanas and adjusting your body if necessary, but think of them as a guide – a sherpa if you will – helping you to navigate the terrain of your own mind, body, and connection with your Self.

4. If you’re super-newbie, by all means DON’T go to a hot class

Chances are you will hurt yourself or will become so exhausted and frustrated that you never try yoga again. That’s not the goal we have in mind for you little baby bird. Look for a nice, chill restorative class, or better yet try a meditation and pranayama (breathwork) class first to wrap your head around the vibe of the studio and the etiquette that’s expected.

5. Still intimidated? That’s fine. Go buy a $20 yoga mat and a DVD and work on your practice at home until you feel you have the courage to attend a class

That’s what most people tend to do anyway. That way, you’re only splayed-out, sweaty and inflexible in front of the family cat Mr. Tinklepuss, and I’m pretty darn sure that Mr. Tinklepuss is too busy tending to his own bits and pieces to care about yours. Or better yet, try an online subscription-based class like Dirty Yoga Co or Udaya.

So that’s it. That’s what I’m putting out there today. That’s my simple little contribution to the world in this moment. Take from it what you will and move forward. Find the courage to either go to a class or whip out that credit card and get a starter mat. Don’t let imaginary fears rule your life, because quite honestly, sometimes you just have to get out of your own way.