Our latest issue out now!Fall 2017
We are all nervous and intimidated to show up to our first class. If you are completely new to yoga, checking out a new studio, or trying a new style of class for the first time, it’s scary.
The truth is I feel this way every time I go to a new class. You’re not alone, and we know exactly how you feel. We are going to do everything we can to make you feel comfortable.
We don’t even care if you can touch your toes. I swear! A student with a beautiful practice is someone who shows up, does their best, and stays focused. It really has absolutely nothing to do with the poses or being flexible. It is the student who comes in reaching for their toes day in and day out that I fall in love with. I love them for trying to grow as a human being in a new direction.
It is going to be much more difficult for you to slow down your mind and body when you are racing in the door 30 seconds before class starts. It is also distracting for everyone if you are throwing your mat down, dropping your water bottle, and trying to squeeze your mat between two other people when class has already started.
You don’t need to go on a diet or lose weight before you start. We haven’t noticed that you gained weight over the holiday. Wear whatever you feel comfortable in and works with the style of yoga you are practicing. You are much harder on yourself than anyone in the room will ever be. As yoga teachers, we have the ability to see your true beauty long before you can see it in yourself.
It is distracting for everyone. We all want to leave early sometimes, even I do, but we just don’t do it, ever. Especially in a hot yoga class. Final Savasana is crucial for developing a deeper yoga practice. Yoga teaches you how to discipline the mind and the body for stillness. We tell you to stay in the room because it is a part of the discipline. It is part of being considerate to others. It is part of learning to stay still even when you get uncomfortable. This was a powerful lesson that I have been able to apply in my life: just be still and breathe, this feeling and circumstance will pass.
We aren’t judging you. We don’t think you are weak. We aren’t bothered at all. It is our job to give you encouragement and help you believe in your ability to overcome obstacles, so we will try to push you past your own limitations, especially the ones that are only in your mind. Remember, your mat is ALWAYS available for you to lie down on and take a break if you need to. Some days we practice gentle, some days we challenge ourselves mentally and physically. There is no right or wrong. It’s your journey.
My teacher taught me very early on, “If you want to receive all the benefits that yoga has to offer, you need to practice every day or as much as you possibly can.” I have found this to be true. Every time I put my yoga practice on hold, I invariably find my inner peace will be put on hold shortly after.
We are trying to help you to avoid an injury. A posture done wrong over and over will lead to a problem in your knee, back, shoulder, or wrist. I will say “lock the knee” 10 times in a pose and 85% of the class still has a bent knee, and I cringe when I see the pressure they are putting on their lower back. I know it will eventually end up hurting them.
Go with the flow. We are all there to try to make our lives better. We show up because we believe it will help us to find more happiness. Don’t be the one who gets mad about having to move your mat over to accommodate someone else. Don’t be the one who spends 10 minutes in the bathroom after class complaining about what you didn’t like. Yoga is not really about what you do on your mat. It is who you are when you leave the room. Yoga is in the heart, not the body. Love is contagious, too. Try to spread more of that around before and after class.
We have bad days, too. We do our very best to leave our problems at the door, just like you do. The truth is, we are not in a constant state of yogic bliss. We have problems at home and work, sick parents or sick kids, money problems, marriage problems, illness, car problems on the freeway when we are on the way to teach a class. We will have classes that feel like divine perfection and classes when we can barely hold ourselves up. We just try to hide it better because we don’t want your day to turn out badly just because ours did.
Ask anyone who does it. Show compassion for your teacher when they mess up their sequence or their music, or stumble over their words. They are panicking inside whether they show it or not. Leading a yoga class is a very vulnerable experience. It’s hard, it’s terrifying, we feel naked in front of a room full of people we don’t know, we are scared you will hate our class and never try yoga again. We only teach because we really, really love yoga. It changed our lives, it made us better humans. No one teaches yoga for the money! Trust me.