So you want to start a yoga practice?

Yoga is a wonderful practice to help calm your mind, manage your stress, strengthen your body and develop some flexibility and balance. Congratulations on making space in your life for this self care practice.

You might be nervous to start, wondering what to expect and what you will need to know. Here are some tips to help you.

First and foremost… relax. That is what you are here to do.

Make sure you arrive on time. Rushing makes it difficult to settle and can be disruptive. A yoga class starts with a centering and breathing, a mini meditation, warm up poses and movements to help the body and mind prepare.

Try to set yourself up away from the door to allow those coming in late to enter without having to step over others. If you happen to be late make sure you enter and set up as quietly as possible. The same goes for leaving early. If you know you are leaving early, set yourself up near the door and tiptoe out.

And speaking of leaving early… Savasana is an integral part of a yoga practice. This is when the magic happens. You absorb the benefits of the practice during savasana. A moment to just be still. This can be a great start to a meditation practice.

Leave your phone outside of the studio. Using your phone during practice is very disrespectful to both you and your fellow yogis. This is a mindfulness practice and we all know that the phone is very distracting. If you must bring it in with you, make sure it is on silent.

Dress comfortably for your practice and choose comfort over style. I know there are beautiful yoga clothes out there, but you don’t want to get caught in your clothes or be adjusting things all the time. Make sure your clothing is comfortable, stretchy, breathable, doesn’t constrict your movement, or get in the way. If you are wearing a loose t-shirt you will want to tuck it in because it will float around your face when you do inversions You may want to pack a hoodie or a sweater to put on during Savasana

Leave your shoes at the door. Yoga is practiced in barefeet to give you connection to the earth, feedback and better balance. If you are not comfortable in bare feet, feel free to wear socks. Recognise that socks often stick to the mat and your foot slides around inside the sock so you may end up taking them off on the mat and using them to walk to and from.

The yoga studio is a quiet space. When entering the studio, you will find fellow yogis in silent reflection or meditation, so it is important to honour this space with quiet. If you need to speak to the teacher before, during or after class, do so in a whisper so a s not disturb other students.

You want to find your edge As you start progressing in yoga, you’ll feel discomfort. Feeling muscle tension and discomfort is natural. However, be cautious of any sharp pain as well as any pain in or near the joints. There is a big difference between pain and discomfort. If you feel that, slowly and gently back off. To avoid injuries, you should challenge yourself so that you keep progressing, yet refrain from pushing or forcing. This sweet spot is your edge. It will likely take you some time to feel your edge. That’s absolutely normal. Due to hectic and demanding lifestyles, we ignore the needs of our bodies and gradually become disconnected from them. It takes a while to learn to reconnect with our bodies again.

And we come to some of the most important points. Yoga is a judgment free zone, so it is important to only pay attention to your practice. Comparing yourself to others, or watching others to see if you are “doing it right” really takes you away from the point of the practice. Your yoga practice is profoundly personal. It is the opportunity to get to know yourself on a deep level. If you have ever said ”you just wish you had some time to yourself” this is it. This is when you get to focus completely on yourself.

I often tell students to practice with your eyes closed. That way you can shut out the external distractions. Seeing the pose and trying to copy it, takes you away from the essence of yoga. Appreciate the work you are doing and understand progress is measured in many different ways.

Connected Living is a space for EVERY body to feel included in a non judgmental space. That has always been my vision and motto… Yoga for Real People. That we gather as a community to support each other no matter where we are in life.

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