You lay down your mat, assume your padmasana, and begin to take deep, cleansing breaths. Your instructor tells you to go into downward facing dog, and, as you strain to hold yourself up, you notice that the woman next to you flows into hers as though she's been doing it all her life. She's thin, toned, and looks like she could twist herself into a pretzel without breaking a sweat.
Suddenly, you realize that you're no Size 0, and that your heels are a lot higher off your yoga mat than the heels of the people around you. You start to notice that most of the people around you seem to be fit and toned, and you suddenly feel bigger and more out of shape than ever.
You suddenly feel like you don't belong in this class with all of these true yogi; that you're just a poser, and that everyone knows it. You feel awkward, inadequate and weak, and you can't wait until the class is over so that you can grab your generic yoga mat and bolt to the nearest donut shop where you feel safe, accepted, and everybody knows your name.
Don't buy into this lie! The truth is that everyone has to start somewhere. You may be surprised to know that many of those fit, toned people in class next to you were once in your shoes: they felt uncomfortable, they felt inflexible, and they felt -- dare I say it? -- FAT. But they persevered, and got to experience the same amazing toning benefits of yoga that all of your favorite celebrities keep gushing about.
While there are some people who have been able to do the splits their entire lives, but most people have to work hard to gain flexibility. It takes a while until you get comfortable, and it can take even longer for you to get really flexible.
The beauty of yoga is that you can modify it to whatever level you can handle. Can't touch your toes? Touch your knees. Can't twist all the way around? Just twist as far as you can. The longer you practice, the stronger and more flexible you'll get.
One of the most inspiring sights I've ever seen in a yoga class was a woman who came in to do yoga for the first time. She was obese. She had to modify almost every single pose. She had to keep stopping to rest. She would stop, but she did not quit. And, a week, later, she was back again.
This woman was committed to growing in her practice of yoga. She knew that yoga would benefit her health, but that it would take a significant investment on her part in order to see that benefit, and she was determined to follow through on her commitment.
No one is judging you for not being a seasoned yogi from the get-go. They've been where you are, and if you stop to talk to any of them, they'll surely encourage you to keep going. So take a tip from them and don't quit. Keep going. You won't regret it.