Q: My friend won’t try yoga—she says she’s not fit enough. What should I do?
A: Remind your friend that yoga isn’t just about flexibility and strength, though these are often great benefits. Even though yogis are urged to focus their attention inward, remember that it’s easy for new practitioners to feel self-conscious as they drop into Child’s Pose while the rest of the room balances in Headstand. If it’s financially feasible, you might suggest she start with one-on-one sessions, which can help her grasp the fundamentals. Or, you might take her to abeginner’s class taught by a qualified teacher who starts with the basics. New yogis often want to hide in the back of class, but the best spot is up front, where you aren’t distracted by someone in front of you and the teacher can easily see to offer help. Everyone’s body is different, and therefore the asanas can look different. So a good rule of thumb is to avoid comparing yourself to your neighbor. Yoga isn’t a competition; it’s an inner journey.
—Stefanie Dohrmann, International yoga instructor, Cape Town, South Africa