Once upon a time during undergrad, I took a weekly yoga class, but stopped when my senior year started getting too hectic. 3 years later, I started going again, and here is what I (and hopefully you!) will learn:
1) Yoga is an experience: I once used to think of yoga as a workout, or a form of active recovery after a hard week of workouts – nothing more. However, the more you go into a yoga class with an open mind, and give in to the “Om”s and your “mind’s eye,” the more rewarding and rejuvenating your practice will be.
2) You won’t be as flexible as you think: Yoga poses give you so many different ways to stretch each muscle and ligament, and just when you think you are at your limit, there is usually a bind, or a clever use of a block or strap to push you a little further. However…
3) Its okay to accept your limitations: Some poses are more accessible than others. The beauty of yoga is that even though you are in a room with other people taking the same class, it is ultimately your practice. There is no judgement if you can’t hold a pose, because everyone else is focused on their mat and practice, not yours.
4) Its also okay to challenge yourself: Yoga is extremely challenging! So many goal opportunities!
5) Your breathing is important: Poses are usually timed by amounts of deep, even breathes. Sometimes it is difficult to maintain controlled, even breaths. If you find that is the case, it is encouraged to come to a comfortable pose like child’s pose or downward facing dog to reconnect to your breathing.
6) Meditation takes focus: Actually focusing on your practice, and only your practice is difficult. Sometimes all I can think about is whats going to happen later in the day or the week or the month. I often set a positive purpose for my practice, such as gratitude for everything my body can do, and I focus on that.
7) Shavasana is awesome: There is something deeply relaxing about ending your practice on your back in Shavasana. That 5-10 minutes becomes a much looked forward to mental break during your day and makes returning to the daily grind much more pleasant.
I am so happy that I have started doing yoga regularly again. Physically, I feel less stiff, my core feels tighter, my arms and shoulders feel stronger, and my blood pressure is down. Mentally, I have a greater sense of body positivity and well being!
Tell Me! What did you learn in your first yoga class?
-Juliane, ACSM CEP