Yoga, Practice, and Making the Leap

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When learning a new skill, it takes practice and a great teacher to help you make the leap.

In January I took my first yoga class. I struggled through nearly every aspect of it, but I loved it. Aside from a funny little story, that first yoga class gave me insight into something that we talk about a lot at work and at our fancy HR conferences, but rarely put into practice in our day to day lives.

Fast forward to last Saturday, when I took my THIRD Yoga class. Actually, it was more than just the third class, it was the third time that I took the SAME preparatory class at my gym. This preparatory class is designed to be taken once. It provides an overview of a Yoga practice, and slowly works participants through a session that acts as “training wheels” for the uninitiated.

Each time I took the class learned a little bit more and got a little bit stronger, but I wasn’t comfortable making the leap into a “normal” yoga class. Something was missing.

Things changed this time around.

The class only had 3 people in it, and since I had take the class twice before I was relatively speaking, “the experienced one”. The class, normally two hours long and half instruction half practice was focused on the individual needs of the three of us in a way that hadn’t been possible in past (when there were 10+ of us). The instructor learned “why we were there”, what we were trying to accomplish, and then tailored her instruction to us.

I told the class I was a “runner” when I was forced to introduce myself, and the instructor immediately had suggestions that would improve my running form.

She took what to this point had been an overwhelming topic, one that for me is both physically demanding and mentally demanding (I still don’t get the sequencing, names of poses, I can’t get any of the breathing down, and I have the core strength of a newborn). The instructor broke everything down into manageable chunks. I’m not “ready” by any stretch of the imagination, but her guidance gave me the confidence to jump into a “normal class” sometime in the next week.

She made it easy for me to make the leap.

She didn’t teach me how to do things in a way that would make the next class a breeze, she didn’t even promise that I would be able to keep up. She simply made it okay to start learning at the next level.

As I left that day – all stretched out and aching in places I have never ached – I started thinking about how we often don’t make it easy for others to “make the leap”. Whether at work, or at home, when we challenge someone’s comfort zone that person will struggle, even when the results of the change are good for them!

We have to remember much like my yoga instructor, to make it easy for others to practice, to get to a point where THEY are comfortable, and then HELP them make the leap!

Image Credit: "14er Yoga Gurus (8544069414)" by Zach Dischner - 14er Yoga Gurus. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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