Is It Possible to "Master" Beginner Level Yoga?Mar 24, 2023
Last week I went way out of my comfort zone and took a class to learn how to make French Macarons.
I am an average baker. I like to bake. But, I’m not someone who does anything fancy.
I make chocolate chip cookies. I bake brownies for my husband (from a box mix). And, I can make one awesome Texas Sheet Cake (and if you don’t know what that is, hit pause, Google it now and bake one – it will not disappoint!).
But, because I am a huge fan of cooking shows, even though I hate cooking (baking, sure, cooking, hell no). I was interested in seeing if I could figure out how to make these super tricky cookies.
So, I pulled myself together, told myself I could do this, registered and could not wait to take this class. I was actually nervous the night before, which to me is always a good thing.
It means I’m about to learn something new. It means I care about what I’m going to learn. And, it means that it’s going to be challenging.
All things I want for myself as much as I can get it in this lifetime.
And, it was so, so much fun. I learned how to meringue. I learned how to ganache. I learned cardamom in a buttercream is next level delicious. I banged the cookie sheets, loaded with uncooked macaron cookies shells on the table with absolute glee, enjoying the loud crashing sound it made and fell in love with this process even more in the fact that it was an instruction to actually do this on purpose.
I met new people – all curious about how to create these confections, too. It was marvelous.
I’m so glad I went. I’m so glad I didn’t feel the need to try to make this myself before I showed up. Or, that I didn’t freak out that I was going and had never successfully created a meringue anything before. (I had tried to in the past, but it always ended up looking like soup. Eggy, sugary soup.)
I just went and bumbled along and had a great time stretching my possibilities.
Which made me think about this conversation I had with a potential student to my online yoga studio last week.
This person had reached out to me and told me they thought what I was offering was exactly what they were looking for.
So, of course I pointed them in the direction of my website, so they could learn more about what to expect.
A few moments later, they replied that they thought they needed to “master” Beginner level yoga before they dove in.
I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but simply told them that I would be here when they were ready.
But, it got me thinking. Do we ever master beginning level yoga? And, what does that even mean?
If you master beginner level yoga, do you perform every posture to absolute perfection, without a bobble or slight waver in your balance?
Does it mean that you know every last thing about the postures within the class, down to their finest detail?
Does it mean that you no longer need these postures once you’ve accomplished them? That they are cast aside as you step into the next level of your practice?
It left me in quite a quandry.
Because I will admit to you right now, I have not mastered beginner level yoga. And, I hope I never do.
When you are a master of something, there’s nothing more to learn. Your rice bowl is full and you cannot put anything else into it.
Last week alone, I learned more about Cat/Cow, Thread the Needle, and Lunge Warrior – postures that most people would deem as foundational and in the beginner yoga canon.
I learned more because I was opening to learning more – even though I’ve been practicing for almost 20 years.
So, I honestly hope you never find yourself a master at anything.
Because then you can take in more info and learn more about life, and yoga and yourself.
And, the problem with waiting to become a master of beginner yoga, is you’re NEVER going to feel like you arrived.
There will always be a posture that just alludes you.
Or, you’ll finally find yourself in a posture you worked on for ages and now that you can accomplish it, that other posture you never had to pay much attention to, has completely fallen apart and you are having to go back to the beginning to relearn it, or learn it again in a different way.
I promise you mastering beginner yoga is a fool’s errand. There is no “there” there.
So, then why do yoga at all? If you cannot master it?
Because yoga is there for you to master yourself. It’s a tool that you can use to help you breathe through discomfort. And, life brings up so much discomfort!!! Good lord!
Or, to learn to respond to whatever life is bringing up for you instead of reacting to it and flying off the handle with swirls of drama and sweeps of moods and emotions.
Or, to become physically and mentally stable in ways you haven’t been in the past. Becoming strong AND flexible. Becoming flexible AND strong. These are two things that most people never work to accomplish, but when they do they don’t let physical or mental effort stand in their way of accomplishing their life goals, or taking an amazing climb up a mountain or trek through new cities.
And, when I think about beginner level yoga, that’s what it’s trying to do for you… help you master yourself a little bit more, so you can take the next step forward in your practice.
So, if you’re going to master anything before you finally decide that you’d like to build into a yoga practice that offers you more when it comes to asana work and deepening your foundations, master these 3 things:
- The need to look for outward distraction from the task at hand. You don’t need a sip of water, or to wipe your sweat. You don’t need to check your iWatch. You don’t need to answer the text right now. You don’t need to gaze out the window and go somewhere else in your mind. Do your yoga practice and let the rest fall away.
- The need to show everyone around you or in the class with you that you are working so, so hard. This can be done through a super serious intense face, a groan or moan, or through looking for constant approval from the teacher. As a teacher of students that have stepped into something beyond beginner level yoga, I know that if you show up, you’re going to do the work. That for me is one of the huge differences between beginner and intermediate. You show up for yourself and don’t need affirmation that you are working hard. You already know you’ll do your best, and that your best will always, always be enough.
- That there will always be more to learn. And, that this thought inspires you instead of inflates you. The more you learn about your yoga practice, the better it will be. So, staying open is a huge component to building into more advanced asana.
That’s it. If you can master these 3 things, or at least be aware of them, you are ready for the next step forward in your practice and should at least jump into the mix and see what happens for you.
Just like in my French Macaron Class – I didn’t expect myself to know everything before I showed up. I knew I was showing up to learn how to do it.
So, why do we put limits on our yoga practice by thinking that to show up for a more advanced class we need to know how arm balance first? Or, have at least a Headstand under our belt, or even be able to drop into Full Camel.
It makes no sense. You show up to learn how to do these things.
No one expects you to show up to yoga and know it all. That’s like saying we know everything about life.
It’s all a big mystery. We show up to know more about ourselves and as we carve out a practice that inspires us to be and do more, we begin to carve out a life that does the same.
So, I hope this week’s yoga chat inspires you to get out of your comfort zone and quit waiting for everything to be perfect to do the things in your life you’ve always wanted to do.
It’s okay to show up as you are right now in this moment for yoga, for your relationships, and for your dreams. Work from there. Be you and let whatever the work is open you up to becoming more of you.
I’m so glad we connected on this today! If you enjoyed this chat, share it with a friend or share it to your socials. Let’s get the word out.
Too many of us stop ourselves from moving forward in so many areas of our life because we feel like we’re not good enough yet. It’s all nonsense. And, it does the great misfortune of having you miss out on the experience of living your life to the fullest.
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