Get On Your Mat: 6 Things to Know Before Your 1st Yoga Class

By May 28, 2015 Yoga
first yoga class

me and my sisIt finally happened.  After asking my sister to join me for a class yoga for what seems like forever, I had pretty much given up on the idea of me ever being able to share my joy of yoga with her…until this weekend.

“I think I want to try yoga this summer,” she said casually.

My internal self was like “WHHHAAATTTT?!?!?!?” I had to restrain myself from jumping up and down and sharing all the things I love about yoga and my studio and how much she was going to love it, for this would have totally freaked her out and could have potentially made her changed her mind.  Sometimes I think my enthusiasm has a tendency to scare her off.

So instead I have written this post in her honor.  Here are:

6 things to know before your 1st yoga class:

1. What to wear

Yoga Fashion is a thing, seriously…but since this is your first class don’t go out and spend $200 on a Lululemon outfit, just wear something breathable and comfortable.  You don’t want anything too tight since having full range of motion is important.

yoga fashion

2. What to bring

Most studios will provide you with everything you need for class if you tell them this is your first yoga class.  But just in case, here are the basic things you will need.

  • Yoga/exercise mat– Again, don’t go out and buy an expensive.  Borrow one from a friend, rent one from the studio or pop into Marshalls and grab one on clearance.  I used my first mat, which I bought at Marshalls, for the first 3 years I was learning yoga and I still use it when I practice at home.
  • Water– While it depends on the type of yoga you are doing(heated, non-heated, warm, etc.), most yoga studios will be warm simply to keep your muscles warm and by nature you are working your body so you will want some water.
  • Hand towel– Always like to have one of these on hand to wipe my face or my hands…but this one is just personal preference.
  • Other items you might encounter in a yoga studio may be a block, a strap or a blanket, but majority of the time these are provided by the studio and not necessarily needed for every class.

    yoga class

3. Yoga Etiquette

While the studio I go to is pretty chill compared to most, there is some basic etiquette that almost all studios adhere to.

  • Get there early– You need this time to set up your mat and get a good spot – also most studios shut the doors to class right as class starts so you can’t disturb everyone’s practice by coming in late.
  • No electronic devices– No cell phones/IPads/Kindles/Nooks allowed.  Leave them outside the studio, or better yet, at home!  Yoga is your time to focus on your inner self and shut out the outside world, even if it is for a brief 60 mins.
  • Introduce yourself to your instructor– Teachers love to get to know their student plus this is a time to make sure they are aware of any injuries you may have.  If you make your instructor aware of your injuries they can help you find any modifications for some positions that may cause discomfort.
  • Don’t leave during shavasana/corpse pose– Most yoga classes finish with the class laying on their backs in a pose call shavasana.  This is a relaxing, restorative pose for students to wrap up their practice.  If you need to leave, leave before this pose.

    yoga instructor

4. Follow your instructor

You are naturally going to feel rushed during your first class.  This is totally normal as you are trying to do a lot of things at once.  Between listening to the teacher’s instructions, watching what everyone else is doing and trying to contort your body into positions you don’t usually do, you are bound to fall behind.  My best advice, follow your teacher and don’t worry if you don’t master a pose the first time you do it.  There will be plenty of other chances.  After a few yoga sessions you will notice that the “rushed feeling” will go away and you will be flowing with the rest of the class.shutterstock_85848001

5. Listen to your body

As you move into each pose you, be mindful of any tightness you may feel throughout your body.  As a beginner it will be a natural reaction to clench your jaw, neck, hands and toes as you start to use parts of your body that you may not have used in years!  As you begin to move, be mindful of this tension and release it.

breathe

6. Keep Breathing

It’s a natural reaction for those new to yoga to hold their breath during challenging poses. Breathing deeply can actually help you relax and hold the pose more successfully. In the beginning, don’t worry about matching the instructor’s breathing instructions exactly; just don’t hold your breath.

So those are my tips/needs to know before your first yoga class.  Do you have any other questions that I did not answer?  Have any other advice you would give a new yogi?

Please leave them in the comments below.

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What My Yoga Home Practice Really Looks Like

By May 22, 2015 Yoga
Dog On Yoga Matt

Guys, practicing yoga daily is hard. You have to get off your couch, put on your workout clothes, find your mat, water bottle, hand towel etc., get in the car, fight traffic, find a parking spot and make it into the studio ON TIME.

Just reading that paragraph stresses me out. That’s why the idea of an at home yoga practice sounded so appealing to me and something I was bound and determined to incorporate into my daily routine.

My usual at home practice goes a little something like this…

  • Put on yoga pants and cute workout top
  • Find and roll out mat
  • Argue with dog about who the mat was rolled out for and that they need to go chew their ball somewhere else
  • Check Facebook/Twitter/Instagram one last time before I start
  • Start my practice – Child’s pose for like 5 mins
  • Argue with dog again that the reason I am down here is not to play with their stuffed squeaky pig which also smells awful
  • Answer text message from boyfriend
  • Call my mom to see when we are having lunch this week
  • Back to my practice – down dog, dolphin, up dog
  • I need a snack…make a sandwich
  • Feel guilty that my sandwich wasn’t kale chips or nuts and berries
  • Back to my practice- legs up the wall, shoulder stand
  • Jump online to order some new yoga pants cause the ones I am wearing are kinda sheer
  • Check in the mirror if you can see my butt through my pants…nope!
  • Shavasana – 15 mins

Phew! I need a nap.

Ok, so it’s not good.  My at home practice is really not ideal nor productive, but in talking to friends at my studio, even the most seasoned yogis have days like this.  Instead of being upset and frustrated, I remind myself that part of yoga is showing self compassion on your off days and being able to shrug it off and try again next time.

Till then I think I will be heading into the studio…

What does your at home practice look like?  What helps you focus?

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Yoga for Anxiety: 3 Poses that Calm My Mind

By May 21, 2015 Yoga
yoga_Indoors

So here is something personal I’d like to share, I struggle with anxiety. Not like, I’m nervous cause I have to give a big budget presentation at work anxiety, but more like THE WORLD IS ENDING and I CAN’T BREATHE I’M GOING TO DIE anxiety.

It’s pretty common.  There is no rhyme or reason to it. It’s just there….

Anyway, we can talk about anxiety and all the fun stuff that comes with it in another post. What I really wanted to talk about was some of the things that have helped me to overcome my anxiety and how I deal with it when it tries to take over my life.

Now there is always medicine and therapy, which I highly recommend, but the number one combat of my personal anxiety? Yoga!

Oh sweet yoga how I love thee!

I have been doing yoga on and off for about 5 years. I started when one day, in the midst of recovering from a terrible panic attack, my mom drug me out of the house to a yoga class at Gold’s Gym. One class and I was hooked! My mom on the other hand, not so much.

Since then, yoga has been part of my life in some form or fashion.  I did not start yoga because of the benefits it provides when it comes to stress and anxiety, if I said that, it would be a lie.  I really started it just as something to do and later learned/experienced its benefits as I continued to attend and practice.

I’ll be honest, I don’t always get to the studio, but I’ll try to practice at home( which is really hard with a dog) or sometimes I will just lay in child’s pose in front of the TV…it all counts.

On my most anxious days I have found that there are certain poses that provide great relief for my angst and can even take it away totally.

NOTE: Before I reveal to you my favorite poses I have to caveat.  You have to practice.  Yoga does not work the first time. You will not feel the freeing of your mind during your first practice. Instead you will probably feel really awkward and talking to yourself be saying ” You want me to do what? How in the world do I get my leg to do that?”. That’s OK! Keep practicing.  If you’re doing it, you’re doing it right.

With that caveat out the way, here are my favorites poses and how they help combat my anxiety.

Child’s Pose (Balasana)

How to do it: There are many forms of child’s pose, but here are the basics.  Begin on your hands and knees and spread your knees wide apart while keeping your big toes touching. Now lower your buttocks on to your heels.  Once seated on your feet, sit up straight and lengthen your spine up through the top of your head.  Slowly bow forward, draping your torso between your thighs. Your heart and chest should rest between or on top of your thighs. Allow your forehead to come to the floor or your mat. Keep your arms long and extended, palms facing down in front of you on your mat. Press back gently with your hands to keep your buttocks in contact with your heels.

Options: If you have very tight hips you can keep your knees and thighs together so now you belly and chest would be supported on top of your thighs. Also, if you have difficulty resting your buttocks on your heels, place a folded blanket between the backs of your thighs and your calves.

Benefits:  This is my favorite pose for when I just can’t get my brain to turn off.  Known to most yogis as a resting pose, this asana has great power to rest the mind and the body.  By placing your forehead, or your third eye, on the mat you are telling your brain you’re safe and supported.

Legs Up The Wall (Viparita Karani)

legsupthewallHow to do it:  Basically this pose is exactly how it sounds.  Lie on your back with your sit bones as close to the wall as possible.  How close you are to the wall will vary from person to person based on flexibility, but don’t worry, you are still going to get the same effect.  From here, extend your legs up wall, so that the backs of your legs are resting fully against it.

Benefits:  This pose is really calming for your nervous system.  It’s also referred to as the “rest and digest” pose.  By holding this pose for 10-15 minutes, your body will actively digest anything you have eaten, as well as work to repair and heal your body from the day.  Also, by practicing this pose for a longer period of time your body will loosen and feel supported, giving your mind a chance to rest and cultivate a meditative state throughout the entire body.

Corpse Pose (Shavasana)

How to do it: Lie on your back with your eyes closed, arms by your sides and your palms facing up. Allow your ankles to fall outward. Allow your body to melt into the mat with each inhale and exhale of your breath, relaxing each muscle from your face all the way down to your baby toes. Stay in this pose for a minimum of 5 minutes.

Benefits: Shavasana, or corpse pose, is a pose of total relaxation, making it also one of the most challenging asanas to master. Why you ask?  Because in today’s world we have a really hard time just “being”.  We are constantly thinking about what we are going to do next, or how so and so made us feel at work that day, and what we are going to have for dinner, blah, blah, blah.  Shavasana, if mastered, takes you out of that mental cycle and gives the nervous system a chance to pause before it is forced once again to deal with the stresses of daily life.

What poses do you like to do to help you relax?  Have you tried any of these?  Love to hear about your tips and tricks for anxiety relief.

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Mr. W…I’m impressed

By May 13, 2015 AdNerd

I have been in advertising for 9 years now.  Wow, has it really been that long?

Anyway, I come across some pretty cool work done by agencies worldwide and sometimes it’s just too good not to share.  This is the gem I stumbled upon this morning.  Be sure you watch it till the very end.  Enjoy!

Garth, You Made Me a Little Bit Country

By May 8, 2015 Featured, Music
Garth Brooks In Concert

How ironic is it that this morning I am bouncing off the walls because we have JUST secured tickets to see the one and only GARTH BROOKS!?!?

Why ironic you ask?

I guess because being British and growing up in a British musical family, country music is not something I was ever “suppose” to like.  Kinda like British people don’t drink Ice Tea or own cowboy boots. It’s just not done!  (I totally drink and own both of these things)

I can remember when we moved to Texas that country music was a definite culture shock to the ears.  I had grown up listening to British rock(my dad’s doing) and Classic Motown(my mother’s doing) and to hear a song like “Chattahoochee” by Alan Jackson was just…well, there were no words. My parents would cringe and call it “utter crap” or laugh at the silly twang of their speech.

And then, out of nowhere, my mother fell in love with Garth Brooks. He was the beginning of what I like to now call “Pop Country”.  It wasn’t your typical Johnny Cash or Merle Haggard country. It was different and it was popular!

My mom played Garth in the car, in the house, it was all Garth all the time.  I am pretty sure that “The Dance” played on repeat for a month straight and out of necessity for sanity I too began to fall for Garth.  I remember him on SNL one night and how glued my mom’s eyes were to the screen and how funny Garth was, even jumping in on a few skits with the cast.  My mom tried to see him in Houston once and she got all the way to the stadium with her friends and there was a bomb threat so they had to evacuate the building and the show was cancelled.  Garth never took the stage.

I think it was in high school when I finally gave in to the peer pressure and added the local country radio station to my radio preset.  I feel in love with the “country pop” sounds of  Martina McBride, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Jo Dee Messina, Brooks and Dunn, Toby Keith, George Strait, but still, I was not nor would I have ever considered myself a Country Music Fan.

Then low and behold, I ended up in the Mecca of Texas Country Music on I-35 when I decided to go to Baylor University  in Waco, Texas for college.  My dorm halls were quickly filled with the likes of Randy Rogers Band, Roger Creager, Pat Green, Eli Young, Reckless Kelly and Willie Nelson.  I bought my first pair of cowboy boots, my sorority threw a concert featuring Aaron Watson as the headliner, and my favorite weekends often consisted of cold beer, good friends and a little Texas Country playing in the background.

My sister Sarah and I with the Randy Rogers Band-2011

My sister, Sarah, and I with the Randy Rogers Band-2011

And now we have come full circle.  I have acquired tickets to see the guy that turned me on to it all and made me a little bit country.  Garth Brooks, baby!

Finally checking this one off my concert bucket list!

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