I’ve had quite a few people email, message and say to me that they’re worried about coming to a yoga class for the first time. Reasons range from medical conditions, fitness levels and flexibility to looking silly, holding other people up and essentially being an inconvenience. I’m writing this largely to reassure people. I’m going to go through the reasons people have given for being concerned about yoga and why they don’t matter because yoga is for everybody. Then I’ll briefly explain what a typical yoga class is like.
Concerns about going to yoga…
- Physical Fitness – you will be fine. Yoga varies massively in intensity, some classes are more physically demanding than others, but there are always options. Much as with running where you can take a slower pace, have more breaks etc. to reduce the intensity, there are similar adaptations in yoga. But in yoga you will always end up in the same place as the rest of the people in the room. That’s the beauty of it, it is perfectly suited and adaptable for everyone.
- Flexibility – I always find it funny when people say they don’t want to go to yoga because they’re not flexible. Building flexibility is something yoga does in abundance! Not wanting to do yoga because you’re not flexible is like not wanting to go to school because you don’t already know everything you’ll be taught. If we only did the things we’re naturally good at we wouldn’t get very far.
- Looking silly/holding people up – you won’t. And if you do no one will see because they’re so busy concentrating on what they are doing to worry about you. I may (or your teacher may) correct you, but that’s what you’re paying us to do. We care about you. We love yoga that’s why we decided to become teachers and all we want is to see you progress safely to the best place you can be at in your practice. Don’t worry about holding other people up, it does nobody any harm to take a moment to reconnect with their breath in a posture.
- Being an inconvenience –when you’re in a class the mat and the space around the mat are yours. You are not an inconvenience you are a strong, capable person who has made the choice to come and do something which is good for your body. Own that space. Feel like you can ask the teacher questions, that’s what we’re there for. It’s your class and it’s really important you enjoy it, so giving feedback is always great too. You are never an inconvenience.
- Medical Conditions and Injuries – if you have any medical conditions or injuries you must ask your GP if it is safe to practice yoga. As long as you have been given the go ahead by a medical professional just let me (or any teacher whose class you’re in) know about the problem and often they can offer you options for some poses which might suit your body better. You should also never do anything you know is not good for you or that has been advised against by your doctor. And yoga should never hurt! If something feels painful, stop immediately and let the teacher know.
A Typical Yoga Class
A typical yoga class will involve an initial relaxation. Then usually a warm up where muscles and joints are mobilised through actions such as bending sideways, small spinal twists, extensions and flexions, and rotation of key joints which will be used in the classm like the ankle.
This is followed by a more rigorous warm up of the cardiovascular system. This is usually in the form of Sun Salutations. Sun Salutations are a sequence of movements which may feel unfamiliar at first, but they are often repeated so they will begin to feel more and more natural over time. The Salutations move every muscle and joint in the body, building strength, flexibility and balance.
Flow classes have more cardio, gentle yoga classes focus on stretching and strengthening through various positions known in yoga as asanas. Some asanas are more demanding than others, but all have modifications and progressions so in a yoga class you can work at your own pace in a way that challenges your body. People’s bodies are all different so some asanas will feel easier at first than others, that’s normal. It’s also normal for one side to be easier than the other.
After these asanas there is a meditation or relaxation. This can be silent or guided and focuses on letting go of any tension in the body. This can be a daunting, particularly for those with anxiety. If you want to you can keep your eyes open and just soften your gaze. Although it can be a little uncomfortable at first this becomes easier and it begins to feel amazing! I promise, stick with it 😊
Hope to see you on the mat soon!!! Hxxx