So you’ve been thinking about it for a while & have finally committed to going to your first yoga class.
How do you pick a class & a teacher?
Considering there seem to be so many teachers & classes out there, finding the right class for you isn’t always easy. You may have a time slot in mind so this may be quite limiting if for instance you can only make a Monday evening or a Saturday afternoon. Where does the venue need to be? Some of us prefer to go to class on the way home from work so that once we close the door we don’t have to venture out again, especially in the winter months. Others for varying reasons require a much later class.
The teacher is also very important. I once heard one of my teachers state that most students continue to go to a class because of the personality of the teacher. I think this is true. The way in which you bond with the teacher is really important. Is your teacher qualified to teach yoga? I have been teaching for 5 years now & in all that time I can only recall one student asking about my qualifications to teach yoga. This may not be that important to you but bear in mind that yoga teacher trainings vary greatly from 3 years to 2 weeks. This doesn’t necessarily mean that any teacher is better than another, but you do need to feel that your teacher has a safe practice & will look after you. Another consideration is, does your teacher go to classes & workshops to keep updated?
The ambience of the class is also an important factor for me. A few years ago I was in a bit of a “dark” place & was looking for a class to go to. I found a class which was a bit of a trek for me & went for a few weeks. I found the whole experience a bit “soulless”. I don’t recall much interaction with the teacher & none of the other students really spoke to each other. Now there was nothing wrong with any of this but it wasn’t what I needed at that time. Many students must have enjoyed the class as it was very popular but it wasn’t for me. So remember if you go to a class & it isn’t the right “fit” then have a look for somewhere else. There are so many classes around that it is worth taking the time to find the right one for you.
What to expect when you get to class.
Well hopefully the teacher will introduce themselves & ask you some details about yourself (around health & level of normal activity). If they don’t & you have a health issue (maybe a knee problem) I would suggest you mention this to the teacher. The teacher should then offer you alternatives (modifications) in some of the postures.
You may find that when people arrive they put down their mats straight away & lay down. Others may chat to their friends. Don’t take it personally if no one talks to you straight away, most people are in their own space & you will soon feel part of the class. Some students are very attached to having the same space each week. I must confess that when I go to class I like the same spot so it is good for me if someone has their mat in what I consider to be “my” space. Also on the subject of mats, we yogis try to avoid walking on other people’s mats so if at all possible walk around.
As for the content of the class expect to do a series of postures (asana), breathing (pranayama) & relaxation in varying orders. Your teacher may also link in talks on spirituality. Most classes have their own “cultures” but hopefully as well as getting a great class you will have fun.
There are some practical considerations to going to a yoga class. Switch off your mobile phone & avoid eating a heavy meal 2-3 hours beforehand but don’t go hungry either. You don’t need to wear the latest designer yoga gear but please be comfortable & be prepared to remove your socks. Another important consideration is doing an underwear check. Your new leggings may be beautiful but are they see through? As a teacher I sometimes don’t know where to look when faced with a pair of transparent leggings!
Occasionally you may hear someone in the class break wind, its happened to me & will no doubt happen to you, it isn’t the end of the world.
On a final note, there will always be a specific reason for starting a yoga practice, for me it was stress. However over a period of time you may notice that you begin to notice other benefits, you may be a little calmer, your sleep may be improved as well as your flexibility.
You may love it straight away or it may take a little longer for you to “warm” to yoga. Give it time & hopefully it will soon become a habit, then one day you will wonder how you managed to get through life without yoga.
Namaste Yvonne x