Have you driven past your local yoga studio daily after work longingly watching as the sweaty, blissed-out masses saunter off after class? Have you subscribed to every yoga magazine you can find, reading up on everything from asanas to meditation? Have you maybe even tried a few online yoga classes, perfecting your Adho muka svanasana, or downward facing dog, before taking it to the streets?
Well guess what? Today is your day, my friend! It’s time to take your practice to the next level. Take your yoga public! Here, three tips on how to fully benefit from your public yoga class, whether it’s your first, tenth, or fiftieth class.
1. Observe carefully
It’s in your best interest to pay attention to how well your instructor pays attention to you. Does she ask if it is anyone’s first yoga class, or if anyone has injuries? Does she ask if the class has any special requests? If your instructor makes little or no eye contact with students, sounds as though she is reading from a script, or doesn’t make herself approachable for questions or concerns, be honest with yourself about whether your instructor is truly being present for you and your practice. If not, find one who will make your safety her primary responsibility.
2. Ask Questions
Ask questions, ask questions, ask questions! Ask questions before class, during class, and after class. Write your instructor a Facebook message and ask him a question if one pops up. Write it down so you’ll remember to ask him the next time you meet. The instructor’s purpose is to guide you through your yoga class, so if you’re confused about a cue or something just doesn’t feel right, ask why. Ask how to fix it.
3. Stay Humble
Friends, this is so important! There’s such a fine line between challenging yourself and accepting your own personal limitations. Honor your body where it’s at in every pose, every transition, and every breath.
And a few bonus tricks to help you ease in to public classes:
-Drink plenty of water before and after class. If it’s an extra sweaty class, replenish electrolytes with coconut water or some locally brewed Kombucha.
-Don’t eat anything at least an hour before class. Deep bending and twisting can cause upset stomach among other uncomfortable digestive issues if your body is still digesting your breakfast.
-Bring your own mat. Especially if you’re grossed out by the thought of someone else’s stinky, sweaty feet right where you’re resting your face in Balasana, or child’s pose. It also usually costs a couple of dollars to rent mats from studios.
-Wear comfortable clothes. Snug fitting shorts and t-shirts work best, as it helps your instructor observe how your body is moving. It also keeps your shirt from slumping up over your face while you’re bending over in Uttanasana, or standing forward fold.
-And lastly, have fun! When you try yoga, your body will feel differently today than it did yesterday, and different in the evening than it did in the morning. Don’t judge where you’re at right now: accept it. Be thankful for it. Dive with your head and your heart in to each new practice, and into the realm of possibilities that each new breath, each new pose, and each new transition brings.
Photo Credit: Lululemon