Find a great teacher!
One of the greatest gifts that we can offer ourselves when we embark upon this journey is to find a well trained, experienced and dedicated teacher who offers a style of Yoga that resonates with your body and intentions. This will create the traditional and sacred teacher-student relationship that allows progression along the path quickly and safely.
Wear clean, comfortable clothing
Closer fitting clothing will allow you full flexibility and give your teacher the opportunity to see the alignment of your legs, hips, spine and upper body.
Yoga is practiced barefoot and studio mats are shared so please keep your feet clean!
Your body temperature will drop quickly in Savasana (relaxation pose) at the end of the class so during the cooler times of the year feel free to bring a small blanket or have a light sweater and/or socks to wear.
Getting to class about 10 minutes early will allow you the time to sign in, position your mat and get any props you will need. It will also give you the opportunity to “arrive” both physically and mentally into the present moment. You can give yourself this time to sit or lie quietly and get centered, getting a feel for your state of body and mind so that you practice in a way that serves you best on that day.
Arriving late is disruptive to students and disrespectful to the teacher.
Leave your shoes, phones and pagers outside the class room
Leave socializing and business outside the studio, so the peace of the practice is not disturbed. “Switching off” is a rare opportunity in our busy lives so make full use of it and enjoy! If you must have your phone place it discreetly near you and on the vibrate setting.
Let your teacher know about injuries or conditions that might affect your practice
Should you suffer from any medical condition, post operative procedures, are pregnant or are under treatment for high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, asthma, ulcers, hernias etc - please inform your teacher BEFORE the class.
This will give the teacher the opportunity to help you personally by offering variations or show you which props to use so that you are comfortable and safe during the practice.
If you do not wish to share this type of information with your teacher please take personal responsibility and rest when you need to or skip poses that place you at risk in any way.
Hydrate properly before class
Drinking during the practice is a distraction and if you need to visit the bathroom you will break the energetic effects of the practice. Drinking during class is also said to extinguish the internal “agni/heat” that is part of the purificatory benefits of the practice. Notice if drinking in the class is your excuse for getting out of a challenging moment in the practice…rather invite yourself to stay with the work and try and move through it.
Have an empty stomach
No asanas or pranayama should be practiced with food in the stomach. Before a class, allow 1 hour to elapse after a light meal and 2 hours after a heavy meal. If you practice yoga on a full stomach, you might experience cramps, nausea, or vomiting, especially in twists, deep forward bends, and inversions. Digesting food also takes energy that can make you lethargic.
If you need to eat something let it be something light and nourishing.
Empty your bladder and bowel just before the practice begins.
Rest if you need to
If you are new to the asana practice take short rests between postures to allow the pulse rate and breathing to return to normal. Child’s pose is the “go to” pose at any time. Yoga follows the principle of Ahimsa (non violence) so listen to your body, learn to relax into the work rather than strain and struggle.
Instead of trying to go as deeply or completely into a pose as others might be able to do, do what you can without straining or injuring yourself. You'll go farther faster if you take a loving attitude toward yourself and work from where you are, not from where you think you should be. If you experience any pain stop immediately and signal to the teacher who can then assist you with a variation or prop.
Remember to breathe!
It is the attention to the breath throughout the practice that differentiates Yoga from so many other forms of physical exercise. Breathing is done through the nose, not the mouth and should be calm, deep and comfortable. The traditional breath is Ujjayi (Victorious Breath) but to start just focus on breathing through the nose as you learn to engage Ujjayi without strain. Please do not retain (hold) the breath if suffering from high blood pressure or heart ailments.
Stay for Savasana!
The final pose at the end of class is Savasana. It is where we end the practice in deep relaxation. The body and mind has the opportunity to integrate the effects of the practice. In the beginning you may find the mind wanders as the body becomes still and thoughts and emotions may arise. This is quite normal as our tissues and nervous system process a deep release to allow for full relaxation. Eventually this will become your favourite pose!!!
If you do need to leave the class early, let the teacher know beforehand and 5-10 before you need to leave, put yourself into Savasana rather than skip the pose.
Regular, moderate practice will help you see the benefits of the practice in just a few weeks. Try and incorporate at least 3 classes/week to enjoy the full benefits of the practice. Start gently! Take classes at a level appropriate to you rather than attend a class that leaves you too tired to come back to your mat. If you are new to the practice consider taking Introductory level class or even private classes to help you learn the foundational poses that will build confidence in mixed level public classes.
Keep an open mind and an open heart!
Keep a beginners mind – open, receptive, humble – allow the teacher to share with you what they have spent many years learning. If we feel we know everything there is no room for learning or insight or growth. Leave outside, with your shoes, any expectations and let the practice reveal to you what you need to experience that day.
SUGGESTIONS TO DEEPEN YOUR PRACTICE
Invest in your own Props!
Purchase your own mat, a set of blocks and a strap. Props are shared at studios and although the best effort is put into maintaining cleanliness it is always better to bring your own. A sweat towel is a great addition if you attend a hot class or perspire a lot. Investing in your own set of props is important if you wish to cultivate a personal home practice.
Ask your teacher questions!
Most teachers make themselves available after class to answer any personal questions you may have. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask! We love to share what we know and an interested student is always appreciated!
Remember at least one thing from class and put it into practice at home
This additional practice will help you to remember and integrate what you learn in class and will advance your personal practice.