Back to Basics II
As a postscript to last week’s Back to Basics post I thought it might be helpful to lay down a few pointers if you are still perseverating over whether to start a yoga class. Yoga is an incredible tool that will not only help make you fitter, stronger and more flexible but can also support your mental and emotional wellbeing. What’s not to like?
1) Never feel you are too old or too inflexible or that yoga is only for young, lithe things. Anyone can practice yoga, whatever their age, shape or ability to touch their toes. Find a class at the right entry level for you – a beginner’s Hatha class if you are in good health or perhaps a Viniyoga or Yin class if you feel you need to take things more slowly. Don’t turn up at an advanced Astanga class if you are not physically fit and strong – you’re only likely to injure yourself.
2) Wear comfortable clothes that allow freedom of movement but equally be aware that if your clothes are too baggy you may find them riding up or making a nuisance of themselves in poses such as Downward Dog.
3) Leave your phone and footwear outside the studio. Always practice in bare feet.
4) Don’t worry about how your feet look.
5) Don’t worry about how your body looks. A teacher may come round and give adjustments to help your body ease into the right pose but this shouldn’t be forced. Nor should you force things. Take things slowly and do not compare yourself with others in the class – yoga is not a competitive sport!
6) It’s fine to change styles and teachers until you find one that suits you. It’s ok to like one teacher more than another and it’s ok to leave a class if a teacher irritates the hell out of you or you feel pushes you so far you might injure yourself. This is not school. You don’t have to be there. It’s your time and your money.
7) Always tell a teacher if you have any injuries or physical concerns.
8) If you feel you are being pushed too hard in a class, listen to you body and rest in child’s pose. Even the most experienced teacher can’t feel what you are feeling and no teacher will mind if you rest. Don’t feel the need to keep up with everyone else (that competitive thing again!)
9) You might feel great after a class but don’t be too impatient with your body if you can’t touch your toes by the second week. You body will respond but in its own time.
10) Remember yoga is a journey rather than a destination and everyone has their own reason for travelling.
A journey of a 1000 miles starts with the first step.
With thanks to Shawn Garcia for the image of BKS Iyengar demonstrating in class.