Get Your A** to Class

Why haven’t you been to a yoga class yet? It’s August; everyone else is going back to school, why not you?!?

Let me dispel some fears. Here are a few suggestions to consider as you head to your first class:

Finding the right instructor

This is easy. There are plenty of fabulous and well-educated teachers in the Tahlequah, Muskogee, Tulsa and Wagoner (duh!) areas. Yoga is a wonderful, non-competitive way to begin building/regaining your strength, flexibility and balance; it’s also an opportunity to hurt yourself if you’re not properly taught and supervised. You’ll travel long and smart on the yogic path by starting out with a qualified instructor who is well-versed in principles of alignment, bio-mechanics, anatomy/physiology, and philosophy. In the state of OK, one does not need to be ‘certified’ to teach yoga (yet). Which means that any former gymnast, dancer or gumby can hang a sign on their garage door and claim to be a yoga teacher. Use your discernment, trust your instincts and ask a lot of questions! You can also go to look for registered/certified teachers in your area.

Finding the right class

Yoga virgin? Probably the “Hot ‘n Sweaty Super Power Funk Flow” class is not for you. Get to a class for beginners so that you can be around other virgins like yourself (there’s strength in numbers!) and start your practice from the ground up. Leave the hot and heavy stuff for later; once you’ve got a grip on safe alignment, the breathing, and the language. Speaking of…

Yoga etiquette

  • Come to class clean. You will be barefoot and standing on your yoga mat; you’ll also be laying face-down on your yoga mat….where your feet have been. You’ll want clean feet. Arrive to class clean and fragrance-free.
  • Dress in clothes that are comfortable and allow for freedom of movement, yet baggy shirts are not so great. An instructor with a good eye towards alignment won’t be able to see what’s happening with your spine, hips and pelvis if you wear that favorite old ratty tee. Save that for washing your car. In fact, use it for washing your car.
  • It’s best not to eat prior to class. Just ask anyone who’s ever gone into their first Downward Facing Dog after a Grande Burrito Supremo Combo Plate.
  • Arrive early. Most studio owners will ask you to fill out a waiver. This is THE TIME to let the instructor know of any past or recent injuries, surgeries, or conditions. Please don’t neglect to do this. Most instructors will ask you anyway, but just in case they’re tied up with another student before class it is up to you to make the effort to pull them aside and let him/her know what concerns you have. Arriving early also allows you time to locate a place in the practice room where you’ll be able to see the instructor, get set up with props if the class calls for them (or the studio has them), and center yourself.
  • When setting up your mat, please avoid walking on other people’s mats. To a focused yogi/yogini, this is their home away from home. Their face doesn’t want to be where your feet have been.
  • Ditch the cellphone. Turn it off or better yet, leave it in the car!
  • Ditch your shoes and socks. You’ll be spreading your toes – let those puppies breathe! Most studios offer an area where you can leave your treads, keys and miscellaneous personal items outside of the practice room.
  • Ditch the chewing gum. How about relaxing your jaw for a change?
  • Ditch the ego. Listen to your body. Anything your bod is telling you overrides what the instructor is saying. Most instructors are excellent at seeing when someone is struggling physically and can make appropriate adjustments. I’ve studied with some pretty kickass yoga teachers, but none of them could read my mind…or my hamstrings. Listen to your body and take it easy when you need to, kick it up a notch when you want to.
  • Enthusiasm will take you far on your path. Smile at those around you. People who practice yoga are very, very nice. You’ll no doubt make some new friends!
  • Spread your toes
  • Breathe….

Lisa Bracken teaches at The Yoga Barn at The Canebrake in Wagoner as well as at NSU in Tahlequah. She walked out of her very first yoga class totally overwhelmed and with the intention of never returning…

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