Maintaining a Beginner’s Mind, by Mary Moscarello

Looking back on my early yoga practice – assisted by photos – has helped me see how far I’ve come in certain poses. Wheel, Urdhva Danurasana (upward bow) for example in the above photo demonstrates how at one point I could barely straighten my arms.

It took time. Patience.

A sense of humor and adherence to a mindset that I’m now fond of referring to as “the beginner mind”.

Teachers need to keep learning new skills, not necessarily yoga skills – so that he or she can more easily identify with the beginner’s mind. This will make you a better teacher. Wheel is just one of those poses through which I’ve identified most easily with the beginner mind. There are plenty of asanas, arm balances, inversions and other standing poses that I can progress to full expression on – but the pose, or even the activity matters not. What matters is recalling the feeling of being a beginner at something. Being new to something can feel unsteady. It can be what keeps a person from coming to a yoga class in the first place! 

However, since we are in the month of January – a time of year in which people attempt new things, try to develop new, healthy habits – you might find yourself in an unusually crowded yoga class (or gym or fitness activity). Remember that the people who are new to the group may be beginners, as you once were, or are.

I will strive to remember that and give the gift of compassion to them and to myself as a teacher.