Your doctor, chiropractor or massage therapist, friend, wife or husband encouraged you to try a class! With trepidation and a mat in hand (or maybe not even a mat as most studios have mats to borrow) you walk in to the studio.
Everyone is on their mat, either in silent meditation or some kind of a stretch. Of course, they are!
As you look around the space, you quickly notice that all the back row spots are taken. Trying to blend in somewhere in the second row, the teacher invites you to come up front where there is plenty of room. Gulp! So you place your mat as far to one corner as possible and sit down with heart pounding and suddenly noticing the condition of your feet, calluses and all.
A soft sound of a bell draws your attention to sit a little taller and look what you think might be yogic. But then the teacher asks if this is anyone’s first class? Do you say yes, and let all the heads swivel to look at you, or do you say no? You softy respond yes, just in case you are going to be expected to stand on your head or do a split, please God no!
Your face now suddenly exposing an immediate sunburn of sorts as you receive a warm welcome and advice to do only what you can. Do what I can?! OMG, what am I going to be asked to do?! You find yourself way too far from the door to escape.
Within moments you are invited to close your eyes and begin a long breath up from the belly. This breathing exercise seems to go on forever and ever, and you SO want to open your eyes and look around, that you raise one eyelid to take a quick peek and feel like you’re cheating.
Next are arms sweeping to the sky and floating to the earth with instructions to keep your sit bones grounded in to the earth. Lead with your heart as you sweep down to a standing forward fold, rise with exaltation as you salute the sun, bow down to the earth in humble warrior, wag your tail and walk your dog in downward facing dog, reach for the heavens in triangle pose… Ahh, these metaphors are lovely, but your hamstrings are screaming, your hips are ready to go on strike, your arms feel like they suddenly weigh 100 pounds each and your lower back is hollering, no, no, NO!
And the class goes on and on and on, until at last you are asked to do nothing, think nothing, see nothing in savasana or corpse pose (heh, that’s a pretty good name for it you think) but your mind is racing; you are feeling sore, inadequate, clumsy, grouchy. Peaceful? Grateful? You can hear the instructor’s soft soothing voice telling you to rest, relax, nourish your soul and being, but staying this still for this long is driving you insane!
Heh, we have all been there, that first yoga class or even the first yoga class in a different studio or with new instructor.
Let’s begin again, shall we? I invite you to read through some helpful advice.
- DO your homework; research the studio, the instructors and find out which teacher is especially helpful with beginner students.
- DO read the class description to see if it includes inversions and vinyasa, restoration and meditation, etc.
- DO watch a U-tube video on a beginner vs. intermediate or advanced class so you know what to expect.
- DO read about or watch a short video on the 3 part Dirgha breath and practice a few times.
- DO come early so that you can place your mat where you feel comfortable.
- DO introduce yourself to the instructor and tell her/him that this is your first class.
- DO share any injuries or concerns.
- DO leave your ego at the door and only bend, move, extend to the sweet spot of the stretch, i.e., if it hurts, it’s not helping you!
- DO expect that it may take several months before you are feeling more relaxed and able to truly listen to what your body is telling you in a pose.
- DO smile and have some fun.
- DO laugh if you fall out of pose, grunt or something hilarious happens.
- DO enjoy this time when you can just lie there and the instructor says really nice things about your practice and how wonderful you are.
- DO accept that YOU are not your injury and that something is better than nothing.
- DO realize that YOU are your best teacher, as far as how strenuous or challenging the class or pose may be. Child Pose is always an option!
- DO try another instructor or class. There are so many wonderful teachers and options.
With love my friends and yogis,