7 Tips For An Amazing Yoga Class I Wish I'd Known When I Started Yoga
When I first started going to regular studio yoga classes I basically just showed up to class, did yoga, enjoyed savasana (relaxation at the end) and went home. In those early days, I wasn't aware of some easy ways to deepen my practice so I could get the most out of every single class.
Here are 7 tips I wish I had been aware of when I started yoga many years ago:
Tip #1: Grounding At The Beginning Of Your Practice
The first thing we get you to do at the beginning of a yoga class is grounding. This could be a few minutes of breathing, meditating or connecting with your body. The grounding helps you to start your practice with a heightened body and breath awareness. It also serves as a buffer to whatever is going on in your life right now. You realise that there is nowhere else to be and nothing else to do for as long as you are in the studio, on your mat.
Tip #2: Give Yourself Time To Transition Back Into Life After Class
The last thing we get you to do in class even after your relaxation (savasana) at the end of practice is to take a moment to think about the practice you just did, to gather your thoughts, to encourage you to take the peaceful or invigorating energy of the practice off the mat with you. We don't want you to pull out your mobile phone straight away and fall back into reality with a bang. Instead, the gentle easing back into your day helps to enjoy the bliss of the class a little longer, and deepen the benefits of your practice.
Tip #3: Your Breath Is Your Guide And Your Anchor
Yoga and breath are connected, in fact, breathing is the essence of yoga. You can use your breath as your guide in your practice: are you breathing heavily or are you out of breath? Maybe you have taken it a bit too far, you are pushing too hard. Observe your breath and soften your practice for the calming and grounding benefits. Secondly, when your mind wanders (and it will, it's completely normal and human for the mind to wander all the time) you can use your breath to anchor yourself back to the present moment so you can stay in the here and now during your practice. Hint: you may have to do this many many times, especially as a beginner until you can focus your mind more easily. This can be hard, but stick with it, as the rewards of anchoring to the breath are immense!
Tip #4: Focus On Nothing But Yourself
Reality is, there will always be someone that is more flexible, stronger, calmer, better at yoga in the class. Whhhoooaa!! Stop! This thought is not helpful, or serving you. When you catch yourself comparing your practice to someone else's, bring your mind back to you. To your beautiful body, your breath, your mat. Comparing can trigger judgemental thoughts, and those can make you feel sad, so we encourage you to focus on yourself only. You have got this!
Tip #5: Find Your Edge
There are potentially two scenarios as you practice yoga: you could be pushing yourself too hard (see Tip #3), or you aren't pushing hard enough. It is completely okay to take it easy, but if you feel bored or your mind wanders off, this could be an indication that you aren't finding your edge, that point where you are challenged but not to the point of pushing so hard you are causing injuries. At the edge we are able to expand our skills, emotions, thoughts, it's that level of gentle discomfort that teaches us to be patient, to work through the discomfort, without causing pain anywhere in the body, or mind. Your edge is where gentle transformation happens.
Tip #6: Practice Yoga That Is Right For You
We speak to many, many people that say "I tried yoga before. It was awful, I hated it and never did it again. It's not for me." There are so many different yoga and teaching styles, chances are if you did not like a class then that style or that teacher was not right for you at that moment in time. It actually happened to me. I was quite intrigued by yoga at the time, but knew nothing about it, so looked for a class and booked myself into one. Well, it was a Power Yoga class and I really, really did not like it. So much so, I did not go to another yoga class for several years. In my case I had chosen the wrong yoga style. I was also advised incorrectly. As someone who had never done yoga before, and, let's face it, wasn't doing any kind of exercising other than running to school on a late school run, Power Yoga was not the best style for me. So, the point is - if you have experienced a yoga class and were left with "it's not for me" feelings, speak to us and we will help you find a class that you could try that may be right for you based on your current physical and mental needs - and you may just be put on the path of yoga for life!
Tip #7: Be Kind To Yourself During Practice
Here is the thing: what you experience on the mat is often a reflection of what you are experiencing in your life, too. For example, if you find that you criticise yourself during practice, this may be true for other areas of your life, too. You can use your yoga practice to gain insights into yourself, to learn about yourself and maybe use what you have learned to make changes, to be more patient and kind with yourself on and off the mat.
Yoga is not just movement practice, it really is so much more: you learn about your body, your mind, your emotions. It helps with personal growth and positive transformation. At Unwind we specialise in yoga that is right for your body and mind, and help you get the best potential benefits from your practice.