Most people put off practicing yoga asana because they have never done it before and have this pre-conceived notion that they have to already know all the poses. False. Not much is required for your first day in class.
Here is what I suggest for an overall pleasant experience at any studio you attend while practicing asana.
1. Drink Lots Of Water
Throughout the day, and especially the day before class [everyday, really], you should be drinking at least a gallon of water. I know this seems like a lot but not only does water hydrate you but it keeps your joints from aching, stomach from rumbling & allows for a smoother asana practice. Most standing poses target the cardiovascular system and increase heart rate, thus causing student’s to sweat. Profusely. Losing all this water during practice could cause dizziness or migraines. If a student drinks enough water throughout the day, they should be just fine during their practice.
2. Shower Beforehand
Practicing asana after a shower is the best feeling in the world. Okay, maybe not the best but definitely in the top 5 of best things ever. Also, do not take a steaming hot shower. Preferably mild to cold temperature is the best. The water temperature should be cooler as it totally revitalizes your capillaries and makes you bright, fresh and alert for your sadhana (daily practice). Whether you practice in the morning or at night, one should always approach the mat clean & ready for movement. You wouldn’t go to church right after rolling out of bed, why would you do the same to your asana practice? Granted, if a shower is impossible, still go to class. Don’t not practice just because you couldn’t fit a shower in right after work.
3. Lighter Clothes = More Movement
Yoga pants can be found almost anywhere fitness attire is sold. However, one does not need to spend a month’s earnings on their yoga gear. Students benefit from lightweight clothing as we extend our bodies in yoga. We bend, twist, jump, and stand on our heads in yoga, the lighter the clothing the easier it is to move in and out of poses. For all students, I suggest: tank tops, yoga pants or running shorts. If a student is wearing long, billowy clothes then it makes it more difficult for the teacher to correct or offer adjustments for proper alignment. Wear something comfortable & you will have a positive experience.
4. Don’t Eat A Big Meal
Many sequences will involve twisting and forward bends. The emptier your stomach is, the easier it will be to do the poses asked of you. Best if you can eat a big meal three hours before and if you’re absolutely starving then drink some orange juice or coffee to ease the tummy grumbles.
5. The Thinner The Better
Most studios have extra mats for students to borrow/rent for the day. These mats are older and have been used by other students but are completely acceptable to practice on. Here are some pro-tips: The thinner the mat the better you will feel the ground beneath you, thus allowing for a more firm foundation. Stay away from ultra thick mats. These types of mats are designed for Pilates and are more cumbersome than beneficial to students.
6. Forget Fear
We are all beginners at some point in life and whether someone has six years of study or six days, we are all united. So what if you have no idea what you are doing? Who cares that your balance is off? Nobody is looking at you and thinking, “Man, that person has no idea what they are doing & their balance sucks”. With the amount of instruction involved in a class, student’s do not have enough time to be thinking about how well everyone else is doing. Your focus should be on the teacher & on your internal alignment; not Susi Yoga and her perfect 90 degree bent leg.
7. There Is No Competition in Yoga
I’ll say it again, There is no competition in yoga. For a yogi to be competitive is to practice un-yoga. You are practicing because you want to better yourself. Yoga (in every aspect) is a journey of the Self, not of “Them, They’re or They”. The feelings, emotions and physicality you are experiencing in the studio are yours and yours alone.
8. Keep An Open Mind And Heart
If you have never practiced yogasana before, you have no idea what to expect. Yoga is a life-altering experience, be prepared to not only move your body but extend your thinking. You will feel things that you have never felt before. Your body will shake, tremble and ache… that means its working. Everybody in the room is there for a different reason; never are they there to judge you. If there is one place on earth that you should never feel judged, it is in a yoga studio.
What To Do After Practice
- Drink lots of water.
- Take another shower- this is cleansing to the body and the soul.
- Do not eat solid foods for at least an hour.
- Journal about your most recent class. What poses did you like the most or worst. What feelings or ideas do you have after practicing?
- Go out into the world and do yoga.