I’m really lucky in that I’m blessed with an awesome group of girlfriends. I recently had a bunch of them come to visit me for a girls’ weekend and invited them to bring along their yoga mats if they wanted to catch one of my beach yoga classes.

Here is how one of my friends replied to the invite. “Hi gang, sorry for the delay in responding. I was busy getting a note from my doctor stating it’s in the best interest of all that I not participate in yoga due to I may scare everyone and look like a jackass trying.”

Her response made us all chuckle, and to be honest, I’m sure that is what a lot of people want to say to me when I encourage them to give yoga a try. There just seems to be this notion out there that you have to be young, skinny, and super bendy to practice yoga. The truth could not be further away.

Yoga is for everyone!

When my friend arrived, she told me that she really was curious about yoga and wanted to give it a try. I assured her that everyone in class is there to support her, not laugh at her, and as long as she promised to not crack jokes throughout that she should just come to class with an open beginner’s mind and give it a try.

I love teaching a class when I have friends or family members attending, and the class she attended was so much fun to make eye contact with my gal pals during class and see them smiling right back at me.

After class, my friend told me how relaxed she felt and how yoga could be a great stress-reliever for her. She also admitted that the class was harder physically than she thought it would be and that she “cheated” in class. I was quick to set her straight, because in my mind, there is no such thing as cheating in yoga class. If you can’t do a pose and make a modification to allow your body some ease and comfort, you are doing the wisest thing a yogini can do – you are honoring your body.

If you’ve been straightening a leg in Virabhadrasana II (warrior 2) because your thigh is quivering, or coming down on your knees in plank pose, that is not cheating. That is the most beautiful thing you can do for your body. The strength will come, and the flexibility will come, all in due time. In the meantime, stop beating yourself up, keep breathing, and make the modifications you need to flow through your yoga practice safely.

Don’t cheat yourself – give yoga a try!