WHAT IS YOGA? IS IT JUST STRETCHING?
The practice of yoga, as a full, all-encompassing practice, is incredibly good for your physical and mental health and wellbeing, and practicing asanas (postures) is a perfect way to get started. Yoga in the western world has deviated somewhat from its traditional origins and now there are several different styles of yoga you can practice in order to get the workout you require. Yes, there is a lot of stretching, but this is incredibly beneficial for your body and mind, and is usually built into a sequence along with more challenging strengthening postures.
WHICH TYPE OF YOGA I SHOULD TRY?
You might need to try lots of different styles until you find one which really resonates with your intentions, but here are the styles of yoga offered at Corpus Studios:
- Hatha: in a traditional hatha yoga class you’ll be doing fewer postures, but holding each of them for a longer period of time. Deep breathing and connecting with your breath helps you to hold trickier positions, creating a challenge for both body and mind. This practice tends to be slow, but with huge benefits, particularly if you’re feeling disconnected from your body and/or sense of self.
- Vinyasa (also named power, or flow): ‘vinyasa’ is defined as movement between poses, typically accompanied by regulated breathing. You’ll often see vinyasa described as ‘vinyasa flow’ or just ‘flow’ and this is because the postures you practice will be linked together using fluid movements, matching the movement with the breath. If you’ve never done yoga before, this could be a nice place to start as it will get your blood pumping and will awaken your muscles, respiratory and circulatory system.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT IN MY FIRST CLASS?
Arrive 10-15 minutes prior to the class starting. Head to the studio, grab a mat, a couple of blocks, a strap and a blanket and set yourself up wherever you feel comfortable. Make sure you have your water bottle nearby, and always practice bare foot.
The teacher should ask if there are any injuries or health concerns they should know about. Be honest! If you suffer with a bit of lower back pain, or have a dodgy ankle, or have high blood pressure, for example, they should know about it so they can offer you modifications for poses which might place a strain on you. If they don’t ask at the start of class and you have something they should know about, just attract their attention at some point at the beginning of class and quietly let them know.
The teacher will then guide you through the class, usually demonstrating poses at the front of the room, or describing them to you. Focus on yourself, and your breathing, and don’t worry about anyone else in class!! Everyone is made differently, and has different strengths and weaknesses, so don’t start looking around at what everyone else is doing; this is going to ruin your flow, and you’ll lose connection with yourself.
Make sure you use blocks, straps, blankets and other props to suit your needs; yoga is about you feeling the benefit of the position in your own body, so allow yourself to get into the right position and reap the rewards.
All classes will end with savasana (corpse pose); don’t run out of the class thinking it’s finished! This pose is so important; there’s a reason it appears in every single class. Allow yourself to completely relax and surrender in this pose, calm your mind, focus on your breath and enjoy.
I’M WORRIED I WON’T KNOW WHAT POSTURE IS COMING NEXT AND I’LL GET LEFT BEHIND IN CLASS…
If you learn one pose of yoga; make it child’s pose. You can use this pose any time in a class, and as much as you want. If you feel lost, or you need a break, or you’ve accidentally looked over at the person next to you and now you’re all flustered, simply take child’s pose, come back to your breath and refocus.
It takes time to learn the poses, and get used to what pose might come next, but that’s why they call it a practice, and any good teacher should be able to help you to modify a position to suit your needs; just ask.