Yoga Journal Blog: Beginner's Mind

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A beginning yogi shares the travails and triumphs of being a newbie on the mat.

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Kristin Shepherd Kristin Shepherd
Chiropractor, actor, and public speaker and the newest yogi on the block shares her discoveries.

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Questions for Yogi Experts


1.Do your hamstrings become close to the same length at any point?
2. Have you found clothes that contain your gut while doing Downward Dog? (Perhaps you don't have a gut anymore.)
3. How long did it take you to get the bandha thing going?
4. (This is directly related to #3) Can you lift your bum and legs off the ground when doing Uttitha Padmasana? How long did it take you to learn that?  (Are your arms disproportionately long by any chance?)
5. Has anyone ever snapped a hip in two doing Pigeon Pose?  
6. Do you like yourself more, now, than you did before starting yoga? (I do, for the most part. Something to do with the daily determination to be kind to myself, I suspect.)
7. Do you fantasize about teaching yoga? Classes at sunrise? In temples? In India? (If you currently teach yoga in temples in India, do you fantasize about teaching yoga at sunset in Machu Picchu?) I do. I have long, flowing hair and long, flowing hamstrings in these fantasies.
8. Does yoga elbow its way into all of your conversations? (For example, your dentist says you need to replace a crown. You say, that reminds me of forward bends in class today. Your dentist doesn't understand.)  Most of the people in my life hope this wears off at some point. 
9.  Do you still love it?  As much as you did when you were new?

That last one is the one that matters to me most. I'd love to hear that it's possible to love this for the rest of my life.

Thanks to yoga for inspiring questions, and thanks to you for the conversation.


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#9 Once you start yoga is tough to get away from. It'll find you and draw you back, because it's the way you were meant to be. In terms of asana I usually do Sun Salutation with a few others. Most of my work is applying Yama and Niyamas to everyday life and reading the works various yogis. They always have tremendous insight on life, expressed in few words. Meditation is so important that my asana practice serves only to support it.

As for #8 everyone seeks spiritual enlightenment, we just have to figure out the language they would like to speak in, until you can convert them to yoga ;)

#7 There's no need to fantasize about teaching yoga. Pass on all you know to everyone. You never know whom you might inspire. When you commit to teaching you commit to learning.

#6 I definitely know myself better through yoga. I've managed to lose a lot of weight, release a bunch of stored emotions and link it back to my Body Talk Practice.

Good luck to you in your journey :)


Yoga also helped me go through tough times. You listen more to yourself and your body.. things that you forgot that existed and it is always with you.

1. The practice of asana is to bring the body to a mirror reflection of itself, centered on the shushumna nadi. All things in time.

2. Downward dog is a great time to practice Uddiyana Bandha. Imagine a shoestring attatched to your navel, one which you can pull up from your back. Suck in your gut. It tightens up in time. Moon salutes will burn it off.

3. I teach four tools of asana. Mudra (hand position), Drishti (focus), Bandha (energy locks on first, third, and fifth chakras), and Ujjayi Breath. When you begin yoga, it is about all you can handle to get into the pose. But in time, you remember these four tools in each pose. A good instructor continues to remind you. Bandhas can take many years to master.

4. This takes a while. Practice using your fists first, it is easier. The hands, in time. I still wonder how some can keep their hands flat and lift their legs up into a handstand from uttanasana. It seems like their arms are so long. But this comes in time, too. Much of it has to do with hip flexors, and tipping your pelvic bowl to allow more space between the mat and the bum. Plus, your shoulder joints limber and expand.

5. It is possible to hurt yourself doing yoga, so take your time. A 90 degree forward leg in pidgeon creates more tension. Begin at 45 degrees, then sixty degrees. Take your time stretching out your quads, and opening the hip sockets.

Yoga can become a way of life. You don't have to push it on others. It is best to let the "yoga glow" speak for itself. They will ask you, and then you can share.

Yoga is such a divine spiritual practice, fantasy trips to India are common. The other day in Savasana, I was in some rain forest, and tucans were walking around me. I didn't realize it until one of them pecked at me, and I returned to the mat, in Las Vegas:)

At times we reach plateaus in our practice, and it may be a while before we ascend to a higher level. Simply continue the practice. Recently, I was becoming discouraged with my effort. Suddenly, my classes dwindled to but a few. I picked up "Autobiography of a Yogi", by Paramhansa Yogananda, and this made all the difference. He has the true heart of a yogi.


2. For some reason my gut looks great in down dog but questionable in other postures. I love the pants with the fold over waist band. Stay away from low waisted anything and make sure your yoga pants go just above the

3. I started out in Ashtanga so it was expected from day one. I can't say I do it every time but alot

4. Yes I can. No my arms are not long. Once your lotus is tight, it should come pretty quick(as long as your arms are strong and proportionate)

5. LOL..No

6. I absolutely like myself more. Yoga saved my life

7. I do have yoga fantasies. I picture myself doing Advanced Ashtanga demos to enraptured

8 no

9. i love it more now. Yoga evolves if you let it.

9. Yes. Even more than when I first started. It gives me joy that I never thought possible; heart-welling, breath-stopping, full of love JOY!

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