There are immediate obstacles when one begins yoga. This causes many people to give up and quit. From physical discomfort to the lack of ability to focus it begins to hold up an uncomfortable mirror to our actual mental physical and spiritual shape.
Beginner obstacles and a way around them:
Chaotic mind: Focus on the breath, it immediately will drop you into the mind. Visualize your thoughts like a ping pong ball. Is it rapidly going back and forth and all around? Use your breath and slow it down mentally. Eventually it becomes a slow game of ping pong and one day, the ball will go completely still. The mind chatter will be silent. Experiencing a silent mind is the holy grail of a yogic experience. And it is very possible!
Stiff body: Surrender in the warm up, re connect with yourself and be kind. No need to criticize yourself. Speak kindly and lovingly to your body, nuture it and stay present. Rememeber your body is in a constant state of change. There will be things you can do one day and not achieve the next. Go with the flow and meet yourself where you are.
Weak body: Yoga is a very different kind of physical demand on the body. For starters, sitting down at a computer or driving in a car or flying for long hours takes a toll on our posture and deep muscle strength. Know that over time your body will become stronger and stronger from the inside out. Go at your own pace and rest as many times as you need.
Inability to focus: Stay with the breathing and focus on the alignment of your body, listen to your teacher they will be very specific about what to move and where. When you really begin to listen they will guide you in and out of the pose and time will float on by.
Distracted in the practice due to others in the room: Eventually in yoga, you detach from your senses and are so immersed in your body and silent mind, no one exists in the room. It is easy to be intimidated or self conscious but focus on your breathing and your body and how you feel that day. That’s all that matters. Over time you will notice less and less and grow ever more confident in your own practice.
Entering yoga practice armed with the knowledge of these obstacles one can EASILY surpass them. It’s knowing how to guide your mind through it effectively that will lead you immediately to a much more profound practice. The goal is to move beyond things in yoga that cause you pain and even things in yoga that cause you pleasure. It is about becoming the master of your “self” and remaining unattached to your mental and emotional fluctuations. Invite a sense of playfulness and joy into the practice, it does not have to be serious work!