Trying something for the first time can feel daunting. You don’t know what to expect, you don’t know how the experience will feel, and sometimes you just plain and simple feel apprehensive. This is natural, it is instinctual; after all, cautiousness helped humans survive the early evolutionary years. Adrenaline pointed us toward and away from danger depending on desired outcome. And I rather speculate that Anchiornis,[i] too felt a small “rush” when it was the first of its kind to jump out of the branches and use its feathers as a safety net to glide to the ground below. Without risk takers, our maps would never have become globes. In our own lives we often have to make some decisions based only on partial information.
A first yoga class is often like that too, where we have heard it is good for us, we have heard it makes us feel great, but still we have no idea how we will achieve that in our first yoga class. This was very much my experience before my first class. I had read all the FAQs for new students, I had all the props, but I still had no idea what I would be doing …or how! But at some point the preparation must give way to action, and I had to take a chance and go. No amount of Cliff Notes from my sister was going to help because within the first 10 minutes of my first class I realized only me, myself and I was having that new experience. The need to concentrate on what I was doing surpassed the feelings of uncertainty that I felt before coming. And as a yoga novice a lot of concentration is required, but as you attend more classes the concentration needed decreases and movements become more natural, fluid, and desired.
Observing your mind during this new process is especially fun, as often your mental reaction resides with the status of your inner equilibrium. New to yoga I would arrive with something that I would ‘want’ from the class, like to relax, or to stretch my hamstrings. But after more and more classes, I realized I was there because in other aspects of my life I didn’t know what I wanted. But the commitment to the yoga practice acted as an anchor to my thoughts so I could pause to contemplate, and then sail freely on.
So if you have heard the health benefits of yoga, and you have thought a yoga class is something that might be good for you, that is exactly the time to leave the shelter of the trees – evolve your self. There is no stipulation about how you have to ‘arrive’ to your first class: uncertain, excited, self-conscious, prepared…whatever. The only part you are responsible is taking thought to action.