The first 3 tips I wish to share with you are more practical ones. Here’s why…what I have come to realise is that what might seem obvious and common knowledge to me is new and informative to others. The following guidance will be particularly helpful for those newer to yoga, but there might also be something of value (including little reminders) for you seasoned yogis and yoginis.
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EXPLORE: VENUES, CLASSES & TEACHERS
Whether you are new to yoga or have been practising for a while, I would always recommend trying out different styles of yoga in order to find the style which most suits you and fulfils your needs. If you want a large variety of classes to choose from then I would head to a yoga studio. Even now, after years of practising I still try out new styles of yoga which I have previously not yet explored, in order to expose myself to new teachers, broaden my knowledge and to increase my class options so that I can ‘pick & mix’ depending on my mood/location/goal.
Our bodies and minds never feel the same all day every day, so it’s good to know which classes are out there to suit you when you want to be challenged and energized or relaxed and nurtured. Take the style Vinyasa Flow for example, I have a collection of teachers who I will choose between on any given day, as every teachers’ knowledge, personality and presentation within that style will vary. Even though most people go to the venue which is most convenient to them I also recommend trying out different yoga venues. Each will have a different vibe and set of teachers and you’ll likely be drawn to one place over the rest.
There is also a whole range of yoga class platforms online. With a rich array of teachers from around the world you are literally spoilt for choice in the comfort of your own home, which could very well be your solution to the following point…
CONSISTENCY: COMMIT & SHOW UP
It’s called a yoga ‘practice’, not a yoga ‘performance’, so it’s good to remember that showing up on a regular basis to practise yoga is key. It’s a life-long practice, that we can adapt depending on our energy levels, injuries, age etc. All we need to do is make the commitment to ourselves to practise every day, even if it’s just for 10mins. I’ve heard before that it’s better to practise 15 mins a day than 2 hours in one go once a week. I agree, although it is good to make the time for a longer practice (one hour / plus) a few times a week (or more) in order to really progress.
I know all too well how easy it is to let the day slip by and not get on your yoga mat, but I think like with anything, getting into routine is the answer. I have grown to love routine, and would like more of it in my life, but my work doesn’t always accommodate it. One thing that is helping me though and may help you is to set yourself a challenge, and give yourself a yoga tick (on a self-made poster or in your calendar, or journal) every day you practise, even if its 5 mins before bed. Seeing a line of ticks will give you the incentive to keep you practising regularly.
CLASS: ETIQUETTE & TIMING
I’m always grateful to those students who make the effort to come to class so even if it means you are tight on time, I prefer you coming a little late than not at all. We are all juggling different commitments so I have great understanding towards the late comers, especially in such a hectic city as London. However, it serves everyone better if you can make it to class early. I usually fall into the category of those who squeeze a class into their schedule, but on those occasions when I allow myself plenty of time to get to the studio, it’s a real joy. I benefit from having the time to say hello to the others students, set myself up calmly and do a little meditation or stretching before class. It improves the whole experience ten-fold. A small request for any late-comers… when you enter the room, straight away quietly assume the seated or reclined position the other students are in, after the opening meditation/breath work is over, you can then lay out your mat and organise yourselves with props etc. This helps avoid disturbing the other students with noise and movement at the beginning of class.
This may seem obvious to most of you but some people need to hear it… Please don’t use your phones in class, instead turn them off (alarms still go off on Silent Mode). For me it’s a rarity to see people using their phones, but I know in some venues it’s more common. Using phones during class to take pictures and videos of yourself is distracting for the other students and teacher, plus it defeats the whole point of being ‘fully present’, and you miss out on the opportunity to have one whole tech-free hour to yourself (heaven!!!). Emergency calls can be taken outside but refrain from responding to calls and texts in the yoga space. In a workshop environment it’s slightly different, you might want to record demonstrations etc, but you’ll know from the teacher when that’s appropriate or not.
Well that’s it for Part One. Next week I will have three more top tips that go more into depth about how to make the most of your yoga class experience.