What to Expect from a Yoga Class

Posted by Steven Russell on Saturday, December 14, 2013

I think half the fun of doing something new is the anticipation in not knowing quite what is going to happen. Perhaps not everyone shares in that kind of fun. If not knowing what to expect is keeping you from attending your first yoga class, here are some of the things you can expect when you come to my class.

A warm room. Doing yoga in the cold is no fun. If it’s stuffy I will put on fans. But warmth will help you and your muscles, and maybe your inhibitions, to relax. It won’t be a hundred degrees. Maybe 75. Warmer in the summer or course. Drink water for a couple of hours before the class starts so that your body is hydrated. 

Conversation. At least at the beginning as people are gathering. I’ll try to find out a few things about you, your experiences with exercise, spirituality, breathing. Don’t worry. There are no requirements except an open mind and the willingness to let go of expectations. I also encourage the people in the class to get to know each other. Don’t worry about that either. It’s common before class starts for some people just to sit on their mat with their eyes closed, or lie on their backs and stretch or warm up. No one should bother you if you need a little alone time to prepare for class or just to step back and soak in the experience.

Sitting. At the beginning and end of class we sit for a few minutes and I talk briefly, or we sit with eyes closed and spines vertical and just breathe. If you have tight hips I have blocks to sit on. If your knees need a little more care, sometimes people sit in a chair. A vertical spine is important in much that we do, especially sitting. Think of it as putting up an antenna.  You would place it vertically for the best reception. So if there are things you need during the practice of yoga from the vast cosmos, a vertical antenna gives you a good chance of getting something that you need.

Kneeling. For some of the poses and movements we kneel. If you have sensitive knees you can double up the mat or use a towel, or just opt to sit or stand for that movement, and just move your arms or your body to the level that you’re comfortable. In yoga you don’t have to do anything (except breathe). No one will judge you for opting to adapt or sit out of something.

Standing. Sometimes we just stand and discover how much of the day we spend contorting our bodies unnaturally, and how we can let go and just stand relaxed and vertical. 

Lying face down. Great for the back. Good time to have your own mat. When your face is in it it’s good to know where your mat has been. 

Moving. Yoga links breath and movement. Move to your comfort level. There is no requirement to move part of you beyond where you know it’s good of for you to move it.

Sweating. People sweat. It’s ok. Be worried if you or the person next to you doesn’t. Bring a towel. Wipe off when you need to or put it between you and the mat or anything else that gets wet and slippery. You’ll be dry soon. And you’ll feel great. 

Coming to new realizations. Maybe that yoga isn’t what you thought it was. Maybe that you can do things you never knew you could. Maybe that people aren’t paying much, if any, attention to you and your body, and that by giving up on that thought you can focus on what you’re doing. Maybe that you are an awesome person.

Singing. Ok, if you shut down when someone asks you to sing, consider it vibrating. Your vibrating vocal cords are important to your yoga practice. See above about realizing that the person next to you isn’t judging you nearly as harshly as you are yourself, if at all. 

So it’s up to you to go to a yoga class and help me add things to this list of what others can expect at their first yoga class.


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