We Yoga teachers see our students make the same mistakes time after time—mistakes we made before we were teachers.
If I could to talk to my pre-teacher yoga self, I’d have a little sound advice:
1) Forget about how many calories you’re burning in class.
The whole “spiritual” thing? It’s real, we’re making it available to you and chances are, you’re not going to find it anywhere else in your day. Take advantage.
2) Don’t worry about what level the yoga class is that you’re taking.
If it’s too “easy” for you, take the chance to slow down and refine poses you might ordinarily gloss over. If it’s too hard, take the opportunity to tune into your body and honor your limits. Spending half a class in child’s pose can be the deepest practice you’ll ever have.
Easier said than done, right? But still, don’t. You’re you, they’re them, end of story.
4) Don’t assume your yoga teacher knows everything.
We don’t. Speak up if we adjust you poorly, tell us if you have an injury and never do a pose that doesn’t feel right, no matter what you’re being told.
5) Ask questions.
I realize it’s hard to interrupt a class with a question you are afraid might be inane, and you do have to choose your moments wisely. But your question provides a great teaching opportunity. And it’s a good bet that if you’re wondering about something, other people are wondering about it too. If you can’t bring yourself to interrupt, stay after class.
Yoga teachers are more than happy to chat about any aspect of this thing we love.
6) Be kind to others, in your words and in your heart.
If you look over and see that perfect yogi in the latest Lulu popping into scorpion with a bored look on her face, don’t judge her. Don’t assume she thinks she’s “all that”, or that she’s looking down at you. She’s got her whole own set of issues going on.
Similarly, if you are the yogi in a casual scorpion yourself, reach out to the less experienced students around you. It doesn’t have to be much. A smile goes a long way.
7) Make sure you are dressed appropriately.
By this, I don’t mean in the latest fashions. I just mean cover up. Yoga puts you into some interesting positions, and the last thing you need to worry about is your shirt flying up or your shorts availing everyone of a crotch shot.
(This particularly applies to men, who seem to have a less concrete understanding of where there clothes will end up in downward facing dog than women.)
8) If possible, don’t eat a couple of hours before class.
Not to get graphic, but our digestive systems can quickly betray us.
9) Don’t expect one class to solve all your problems.
The thing about yoga is, it’s a war of attrition. The more you go, the more benefits you reap.
10) Recognize this is an ancient philosophy.
Older than Pilates, weight lifting and step class, by participating in yoga you are plugging into something real, something proven, something authentic.
If you let it, yoga will heal you.
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Ed: Catherine Monkman