What Happens in a Yoga Class?
Helpful Information for Beginners
If you're feeling a bit nervous about coming along to a class for the first time, it can help to know what you expect when you get there. Here's some helpful information to get you started, but feel free to drop me an email or give me a call to talk things over. I'm always happy to help. Also Zoom is a great way to sample a class in privacy. Whatever you choose, I suggest taking a light approach without taking things too seriously. Everything you learn in class has a practical benefit to your everyday life and wellbeing. Take your yoga with you to use whenever you need it.
Centring to let go and find space
At the beginning of the class we spend a few minutes to settle and slow down; persuading your mind to move away from your to do list. This time helps you to consciously bring your mind to focus on your practice and what's happening for you now moment to moment. In some classes this is sitting on the floor, in others it'll be lying down.
Postures and movements to release, strengthen, balance and realign
The positions and movements have a special name called 'asana'. They can be lying down, sitting on the floor or on a chair, on all fours or standing. Each class includes a balanced combination of these different movements to gently release tension, increase mobility, improve your balance and build strength. They can be tailored to suit your individual body and your needs. There are lots of alternative movements and support you can use through the practice. Wellbeing Yoga classes are a good beginning if it's been a while since you've been active.
Breathing techniques to calm, soothe, focus and uplift
Stress, tension and restrictive clothing limit space and prevent your breath from becoming full, deep and relaxing. Yoga breathing techniques are called 'pranayama' and along with postures to unwind tension, they're designed to improve your wellbeing and the quality of your breath. The way you breathe is intimately linked to how you feel, making it a powerful way to ease anxiety and stress. Breathing practices are usually seated in a comfortable position on the floor or on a chair. There are also variations standing up and lying down.
Relaxation to unwind
Relaxing at the end of class gives you space to absorb the benefits of your practice. Deep rest refreshes your mind and body and improve the quality of your sleep. Traditionally this practice is lying down, but you could sit against a wall or on a chair. Like any skill, your ability to relax improves with practice!
Grounding - back down to earth!
You can feel a little bit spaced out after the breathing and relaxation so we take time at the end to 'come back down to earth'. It might feel lovely, but you need to get your focus back to make a safe journey home. It's usually something simple like a mindful stretch in time with your breath and to thank the whole class for sharing the practice. Of course on Zoom, you don't need to travel and could just listen in to this part.
Do I need to be fit or flexible?
Not at all. Yoga is all about 'starting where you are now'. Wellbeing Yoga classes are are tailored to your own needs and ability. Dynamic Flow Yoga needs a little more strength and uses deeper stretches. The flow class is fine for active beginners, but not suitable if you have health problems like high blood pressure or heart conditions.
What if I can't do something?
I understand your fear and I hear this a lot. This is your practice and you can choose to do whatever feels comfortable. I can help with alternatives and adapt practices to suit you better. Sometimes students just lie down and relax through the whole session and that's fine too.
What do I need to wear?
It's important to be comfortable so you can relax and stretch into each movement, and also have space to breathe deeply and comfortably. There's no need to buy something special (unless you particularly want to), a t-shirt and joggers are great. I also suggest an extra layer like a sweatshirt for postures on the floor and a blanket is lovely for relaxation at the end.
Do I need special equipment?
You can practice yoga anywhere without any equipment at all. In class I suggest that you use a yoga mat to keep your feet stable in standing postures. I have lots of spares for you to borrow if you don't have one already, along with foam blocks, blankets and pillows to support and ease you through your practice.
Covid-19 note: I am not sharing equipment at the moment so please bring your own equipment with you during this time. It doesn't need to be special yoga equipment - a book is as good a block, a scarf or belt is a good yoga strap and a pillow or folded blanket is useful for gentle support.
When is the best time to start yoga?
Now! Students in my classes range from 20 to over 80 years young and we're all kinds of different backgrounds, shapes, abilities and levels of experience.
I'm feeling a bit shy about coming on my own...
I understand completely. It's perfectly natural to be nervous about starting something new. Hopefully this information is helping you to feel more confident, These are friendly classes and you'll be in good company. Lots of people come along on their own and make friends when they arrive. No need to be shy - there's a warm welcome waiting for you!
In Zoom classes do I have to have my camera on?
No. It's entirely up to you if you'd like to turn your camera on at any stage. Obviously I can't check how you're doing if I can't see you, so I trust you to respect your own boundaries and to do just what's comfortable for you. I set the session up so you arrive already muted. You are welcome to stay on mute if you prefer or have a chat before the class starts.
A stable mind is like the hub of a wheel. The world may spin around you, but the mind is steady