In the first days of 2018, many of us will consider setting a resolution for the year. One of my friends decided to start running as part of her resolution to get fit. “The best part,” she told me, “is that I didn’t need much to get started: just a good pair of shoes.”
Her comment stuck with me, and I started to thinking about what someone would need before practicing yoga for the first time. What gear, clothing, or accessories would a group of experienced yogis most likely recommend?
While every person has his or her own preferences, it would be easy to rattle off an intimidating, list: a mat, a water bottle, a towel, a moisture-wicking top, a specific brand of expensive yoga leggings…
The way I see it, here’s what you really need to start your yoga practice in 2018:
You don’t need a mat to practice yoga. You don’t have to be in a studio, and you certainly don’t have to wear a particular outfit. Yoga isn’t a specific pose or a special way of breathing. You can choose to include these things in your personal practice, especially if they enrich your experience, but you can do yoga without any of them.
The most poignant moments in my personal practice have come away from my yoga mat. They’ve happened at when I'm frustrated, where I take a deep breath to calm myself before reacting to stress (it doesn't always work!). They’ve occurred in my car, when I feel tension rising and hum “Om” as a gentle reminder to remain present. Most of all, these moments come every time I try to choose to respond with loving kindness, no matter what the circumstances.
These are the experiences that best energize and support my continued practice.
So if you’ve been thinking about starting a yoga practice this year, I recommend that you start with this: be kind to everyone. It is a simple task, but one that can open a world of new experiences within everyday life. Try it for a few days, and if you like where it takes you, then go ahead and buy your first mat.
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