Yoga can be practised by anyone, it makes absolutely no difference whether you can touch your toes or not! Holistic yoga and somatic movement is an ideal type of yoga for beginners as there is plenty of detailed instruction. Additionally, there is no sense of competition or need to push yourself beyond your comfort zone.
The practice will help you to relax, breathe more comfortably and become more body aware. Many students have found that, with regular attendance, backaches and other joint aches and pains simply cease to be. It is a practice well worth starting and continuing regularly. Before class you will be asked to fill out a medical form. If you can click on this link to open the pdf file, print it out and fill it in prior to class, even better!
Clothes you can move around in are ideal. But, however comfortable your jeans are, they are not the best choice for yoga practice! Choose leggings, tracksuit bottoms (not too baggy) or shorts. It is good to layer a long sleeve t-shirt over a short sleeve t-shirt as you change temperature through the class. For summer classes wear a vest underneath a short sleeve t-shirt. If you have a very good reason to keep your socks on (athletes foot, verruca, other foot problems) it is best to use toe socks. If you are coming to class straight from work, bring along clothes to change into.
There is equipment at the studios I teach in, including yoga mats. That said, I recommend buying and bringing your own mat for hygiene reasons. Also if you have your own mat you are more likely to practice at home, this means you will benefit even more from this wonderful practice. Mats are available to buy at the Haelan Centre on the first floor.
Many teachers recommend not eating for at least two hours before you come to class. Personally, this often doesn’t work for me as I need to work on keeping my blood sugar balanced. If you need to eat before class keep it light, protein rich and easily digestible. I often have a bounce protein ball, a protein shake or a handful of walnuts an hour (sometimes less) before class. Eating a large meal is not ideal… you will be very conscious of exactly how much you ate throughout the class!
It is also good if you can drink some water before class and especially afterwards. Some teachers say it isn’t ideal to drink during a class, again, I disagree… small sips if you are thirsty is ok. There is a water cooler just outside the studio room.
When you first start to practice your body will start speaking to you in the form of various sensations. Gradually you will get used to what your body is trying to communicate to you. To start off with you will find the following guidelines useful:
Good “Pain”: stretching, dull aching feeling in the muscles – common in hips, back, legs, feet. This type of “pain” should lessen as you hold the pose and focus on breathing and relaxing into the area. This type of feeling is very healing if you work at your comfortable edge. After a while you will cease to view these sensations as pain, more as “an interesting sensation that demands your full attention.”
Bad Pain: Sharper, shooting pains anywhere in the body, especially if the pain is the the joints, spine, knees, shoulders, lower back, hips. Tingling down the arms or legs. If you experience this kind of pain, stop what you are doing and tell me. There’s no need for alarm, it is just your body saying “you are pushing this too far right now.” Usually poses that cause this type of pain are exactly the right poses to be practicing just in a more gentle or supported way, backing off or using props as instructed can stop the pain and start the healing process.
And don’t worry – yoga is not all about pain! In fact, it is usual to feel quite ‘blissed out’ after attending a yoga class. The best way to practice is with a feeling of comfort and at ease – there is no competition to win, no glory in getting your foot behind your head or touching your toes.
The golden “yoga prize” is inside and all around each one of us, already. Our goal is not to get there, but to realise that we are already there.
Looking forward to seeing you in class