Just Two Breaths, or How I Practice Yoga as a Beginner

Updated: Aug 8, 2018

When it comes to yoga, I’m a complete novice. Sure, I’d rigidly bent myself into downward-facing dog and child’s pose in the past, but the first couple times I tried to practice yoga, I felt like I had too much anxiety and pent-up energy to keep going.

Ironic, amirite?

Although I wanted to enjoy it and could identify the benefits--with zero patience, resources, or motivation--I just gave up.

Fortunately, I’ve grown as a person, a mother, and a spiritual being, if you will, and sought recently to pick back up what I felt could be something very beneficial to my life and the lives of my family.

And while all the popular, beautiful, and incredibly limber yoga gurus on Instagram make the elegant and shapely lines look like sculptures from a fine art museum, I’m over here falling, failing, and completely in my feelings, if ya know what I mean.

In other words, it’s a learning process. To practice yoga without a background in athletics, dance, gymnastics, or other activity that requires flexibility and strength, means the rest of us mere mortals will have to take our approach to yoga one pose at a time.

I have this little rule I made for myself that I think you might find helpful. Any time I’m working on a pose that’s physically or mentally challenging, like inversions, splits, backbends, balancing star pose, etc., I go to a grounding place in my mind and tell myself to take two deep breaths before coming out of the pose.

Why two breaths? Because psychologically it seems like such a small trade off--a reward, even--for trying something really difficult. Sort of like when someone is suffering from an affliction that doesn’t require medical attention--be it waning motivation, lack of energy, or a creative block--the minor actions, such as making your bed every morning, stretching before your feet touch the ground, or writing one sentence of your 300 page novel, can eventually lead you to bigger and better things.

Sometimes two breaths is all I can muster in a particularly challenging pose, but other times I find myself taking three, four, five, and even six deep breaths before unfolding, ultimately ending the session even better than I had anticipated.

Keep in mind, though, this is not telling you to set your goals low. Your goals and standards for everything you do should remain high and outstanding. What I’m reminding you is that the key to reaching larger goals is to set small, mini milestones in the interim in order to complete your master plan.

Whether your goal is to practice yoga like a pro, become a world-renowned artist, sculpt that six-pack you always dreamed of having, or be a more patient mom, oftentimes all it takes is awakening your resolve and taking two deep breaths.

© 2020 Jamie Duncan