Since starting to teach yoga and through chatting to people who are considering coming to a yoga class for their first time I have been told that it can feel a little daunting. Concerns that have been voiced to me have been inflexibility, not knowing or being able to do any of the postures right down to not being sure what to wear.
From the outside it may appear like you have to be a super bendy lean god or goddess that can contort into all manner of positions at the drop of a hat. This really is not what it’s all about.
One of the things I love about yoga is the belief that “where ever you are at right now is perfect”. What ever your body can do in the moment you are in the class is exactly where you are meant to be. There must be no strain or pushing yourself, this only leads to injury.
As with everything in yoga this is a concept that can spill over to the rest of your life too.
The word asana is the yogic term for pose and means sitting down or seat. In Patanjali’s Yoga sutras, (yogic philosophy) he suggests that asana is “to be seated in a position that is firm, but relaxed”. This means that once you have got into the pose/asana, as much as you can that day, you are then to focus on feeling comfortable in it. Never is there to be any force or pain.
So where ever your body or mind is at when you come to your first yoga class this is perfect. I certainly can not do every posture under the sun. Our bodies are all different, so some asana will be easier or more difficult than others.
Before getting into yoga I was a keen long distance runner, regularly training for half marathons. When I started yoga my hamstrings and lower back were so stiff I couldn’t hardly touch my toes let alone do all sorts of other postures. Just taking slowly class by class it was amazing to see how flexibility does improve little by little.
If you are considering going to a yoga class here are a few things to help you know what to expect and to make it an enjoyable experience;
1) Wear comfortable clothes. For ladies I recommend choosing a top that won’t ride up or bother you at all. Same with trousers; short or long leggings or loose pants that go in around the ankle are best. You basically don’t want to be worrying about anything suddenly being exposed!
2) Don’t eat up to 2 hours before the class, this really helps you to feel comfortable in the postures and lighter. For example twisting your tummy will not feel good if it’s full of food.
3) Go to the loo before you go into class, this sounds basic but feeling like you need it will really distract you! Lying on your tummy does not feel nice if you are bursting! You can of course leave mid class to go if you need to, but it just helps to reduce the need to do this.
4) Cutting out an sugar or caffeine before a class will help to calm your mind and will help you balance. They speed up the mind so it’s hard to be totally calm when they are in your system.
5) Go near the back and then you can watch what other people are doing! If there are just a few people in the class then that’s great too, usually the teacher will come and offer you any help if you look stuck or they feel there is something you could try to make it feel easier.
6) The teacher will give you verbal and sometimes visual instructions on how to get into each asana, so no need to worry about knowing exactly how to do everything.
7) Yoga is not a competitive sport, as mentioned above where ever you are at right now is perfect. In a class people are more concerned about what they are doing and focusing on their breath rather than watching what you are up to.
Please do feel free to email me any questions about yoga. It really is a lovely thing to do, yes your flexibility and strength will grow but it’s so much more than that. It quietens the constant chatter of your mind, it gets rid of toxins and floods your body with fresh nutrients and oxygen. It helps you to be in the present moment, to open your heart and to release stored up emotions.
With so many benefits to be had why not just give it a go? 🙂
(which means “the light with in my acknowledges the light with in you”)