When was the last time you tried something new for the first time? Has it been a day, a week, a year or even longer? If you can’t remember, it’s likely been too long.

For us, Shannon and Tracy, the New Year is an annual invitation to try something new. It’s a time where we give ourselves permission to evaluate our habits and make shifts that bring about greater health, vitality, and wholeness in all aspects of our life.

Yoga is one method of bringing about these kinds of dynamic changes. Sometimes, it takes three or more tries before you find the teacher you relate to, and who relates to you, as the unique individual you are.

In the Yoga Sutras, a historic text on yoga, the very first aphorism is atha yoganusasanam. Roughly translated, it means “and we begin again.” This aphorism is strategically placed as the first of 196 aphorisms as a reminder that yoga is a practice for the sake of practice. Each time we step onto the mat, there is an opportunity to let go of our desire to strike the perfect pose; instead, the opportunity available is to embrace the moment for the first time. And to use the breath as a sutra or thread to string together each moment, one breath at a time.

If you are like us, you are gearing up to utilize the New Year as a way to garner support for your new healthy habits. Why not make yoga practice part of your New Year’s resolution? Yoga, more than most self-care programs, will not only improve the way you look and feel, but it also addresses the need for a calm mind and emotional stability.

If you have never practiced yoga, getting started can be a little overwhelming. There are an abundance of studios, teachers, and styles of yoga.

Wherever you go, the principles for starting any yoga practice are the same. That is why we have created the beginner’s toolkit, to help you get started exploring something new.

Tool No. 1: Fire up your beginner’s mindset.
When trying yoga for the first time, there can be a sense of fear. It may arise as tiny bubbles or as an emotional geyser. Your willingness to take a risk, trust yourself, and push past your fear — while simultaneously embracing the spirit of exploration and growth — can be very empowering.

This mindset can create a fuller, richer life by moving through fear rather than becoming immobilized by it.

Tool No. 2: Connect to your sense of wonder.
Tap into your playful side. As children, we did this everyday. It was easier because everything was new. Challenge yourself. Bring that same sense of joy, wonder, and curiosity into your practice.

Tool No. 3: Embrace a non-judgmental approach.
As a beginning yoga student, it is the perfect time to focus on process rather than product. Everything will be new for you: The poses, the breathing, a new language.

You can either use your practice to compare yourself to others, or simply let the journey be its own reward. By removing expectations and self-judgment, life becomes limitless in its abundance.

Tool No. 4: Practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the practice of cultivating attention — an integral part of any yoga practice. It is both an invitation and permission to slow way down in order to take a journey inward.

Giving yourself permission to slow down will allow you to enjoy the subtle nuances that are available in the space of novelty.

One additional benefit of adding yoga to your New Year’s Resolution: it’s affordable.

It’s even more affordable as a beginner. During the month of January, to support you in trying something new, we will be offering a new student special: two classes for $14.

All levels welcome to join our morning and evening classes. For more information, visit us at shannonmcquaideyoga.com

Shannon McQuaide is a master yoga teacher and coach with over 15 years’ experience. She teaches a uniquely designed yoga program for firefighters in San Jose. She also leads yoga classes and instructs private clients in Scotts Valley. Shannon holds a Master of Arts degree in Psychology and Leadership. Contact Shannon at 831-431-0850.

Tracy Spencer is certified and registered yoga teacher. She found her passion for yoga during her search to find alternate ways to relieve the chronic back pain from her scoliosis. She not only benefited from the physical aspects of the practice, but the subtle nuances of yoga made an even bigger impact on her life. Contact Tracy at 408-307-7763.

Written by Guest Authors Shannon McQuaide and Tracy Spencer

This article was also seen in the Scotts Valley Press Banner