Viva La Vegan!

Cast your doubts in a new light.

1. You are not flexible enough.

You’re not flexible? Great! Want to get more flexible? Try yoga! You can’t start with any more than you have and who’s to say that you’re ever going to have any more than what you’re working with right now, so why not dive in already?

2. You don’t have time.

Well of course you don’t! Not with all of that TV that needs to be watched, naps that need to be taken, long lunches/dinners, and time spent reading gossip rags! Listen, I know all about busy and truly understand busy lifestyles, but if you can manage to make time for a night out with friends, you can show up a little late after taking care of number one first, right? Right! Oh wait, you have kids and can’t get away? Do yoga without leaving behind the kids… or your spouse… or even the dog! Problem solved!

3. You are self-conscious.

Self-conscious? So is most everyone else that you’ll share a yoga class with, so it is pretty safe to say that you’re in good company there. No one wants to be embarrassed. The people in your class are either going to be a) so fixated on preventing their own embarrassment that they won’t even notice you; b) so fixated on their own yoga practice that they won’t even notice you; c) sympathetic to your plight should something happen, or d) the rare jerk. Don’t let someone else’s bad attitude prevent your own growth experience!

4. You aren’t a flake.

Woah, hey there, now. Neither are most yogis. Yoga has been around for so long because it is a practical science embraced and studied by practical people looking for practical results. Approach your practice with as much skepticism as you like, but with an open, analytical mind and see what happens!

5. You’re a dude.

Sorry, but I am not… NOT… going to give you the “Hey, there’s hot chicks in yoga classes” line because I think that you’re above that. No, I know you are. Did you know that the yoga system was created by men? And only practiced by men until relatively recently? Yoga postures involve strength and stamina and I know you’ve got that. Now let’s see you bring it to the mat already!

6. Yoga is not a hard enough workout.

Yoga comes in a hundreds of styles taught by thousands of different teachers! Out there somewhere, there is a class that is just the right level of challenge for you. You don’t develop the skills to do much of this from practice yoga that doesn’t offer a challenge. We’ve got you covered.

7. You can’t afford it.

Things you need to do yoga: Yourself! What could be cheaper?! It can be done at home, in your office, in your backyard, at the airport, in the park… the list is endless. Not sure where to start? Get a book at the library or visit the worldwide web (ever heard of YouTube?) for a jumping-off point. And should you decide to study with a teacher, see if there isn’t something else less necessary (Soda? Spa pedicures? Those gossip rags you’re no longer finding time to read?) you can give up in order to fund that yoga habit. Also, many studios offer at least one weekly “community” class (or even all of their classes) by donation, meaning that you pay what you can. A worthwhile investment in yourself!

8. You don’t have the right clothes.

Any clothes that you can move in and that cover all of the parts that you would want to be covered while in public are the right ones. And hey, if you practice at home, you don’t even need those! Be free!

9. There are more experienced people in class.

There are always going to be people more experienced than you at everything everywhere you go ever in life. Don’t let it stop you from performing at the top of YOUR game.

10. You’re socially awkward.

Don’t want to talk to anyone? Great! You can practice at home with a book, a DVD, or a friend who’s company you don’t object to! If you do venture out to a class in public, chances are that you might need some basic communication skills to get through the initial registration and payment and then you’re off on your own! You’re on a mat for an hour plus doing your own thing in a room where only one person is talking (that’d be the teacher). No social interaction necessary!

11. You don’t like chanting.

No problem! Many people don’t like other aspects of practice or even certain poses so they either endure them as a character-building exercise, modify them, or skip them entirely as they see fit. You can do the same.

12. You’re not a Hindu.

So you’re not Hindu? Neither are the vast majority of people regularly practicing Hatha Yoga (that is, the yoga postures) in the West! Yoga is a science, not a religion. You can apply its teachings to whatever your individual belief system is and even use it to deepen your own spiritual practice. Do what you’re comfortable with. Anything that you’re not sure about will either not be a part of your practice or will come into your practice when the time is right. No conversion required!

13. You have an illness/disability/limitation/are fat.

You think only healthy, skinny people do yoga? Don’t buy the hype! Just take a look around any local yoga class and you’ll see folks of all types. Yoga was created as an attempt to keep the body fit and healthy, but that doesn’t mean you have to start that way. A good yoga teacher will let you know ways in which you can modify your practice to make poses more accessible or appropriate for your condition in a group class or you may find that a certain style of yoga suits you more than another. If you’re still worried that a “mainstream” class isn’t right for you, there are classes, books, and other resources tailored to you whether you are old, have a bad back, have cancer, just had a baby, are fat, or at any other number of places in life.

Nicole Nicole Sopko is a Chicago-based yoga teacher who has been living a vegan lifestyle for the past 15 years and views that transition as her first yoga practice. She is also a dedicated student of Sri Dharma Mittra, who encourages students to recognize the light in all beings. A believer in the power of yoga as a lifestyle, Nicole feels that a playful yoga practice enables a person to approach the more mundane aspects of life with a lighter heart and a more accepting attitude. Her yogic journey has played a big role in her life and she feels lucky to have the opportunity to share that journey with others.

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