When I think of Orlando I think of hot, sweaty, delicious yoga. I’ve been taking classes as often as possible since moving back and my body is very happy for it. Yoga has been in my life for almost three years but it didn’t always come so naturally.
Almost three years ago I was a closet yogi wannabe- trying to imitate moves I saw on cheesy yoga DVDs. It wasn’t until my friend Ryan and I decided to tackle a real studio together that yoga began to mean something to me.
Dressed in the fanciest cotton, ill-fitting yoga clothes we had, we arrived to the small lobby of College Park Yoga 15 minutes before class began. We filled out our waivers, checking the box that we were new to yoga.
I’m not sure how to best describe the next 90 minutes we spent on our slippery rented yoga mats. Hard? Confusing? Stretchy? Wonderful? Sweaty, definitely. I’ll never forget the face Ryan and I gave each other in the middle of what felt like our 90th awkward down dog. We had never sweat so much in our lives.
With each visit to the mat since then moving my body through practice has become more akin to breathing. It’s natural, it feels right and I know when I’m not doing it enough.
I think anyone can benefit from yoga: runners, injured persons, pregnant mommas, kids, CrossFitters, students, truck drivers. From yin yoga to ashtanga, all yoga benefits the body and the mind.
“You cannot do yoga. Yoga is your natural state. What you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state.” — Sharon Gannon
Here are 10 things you should know before your first yoga class:
1. You probably won’t know what’s going on for most of the class. And that’s okay. Remember even the most advanced yogis started somewhere. Watch the teacher or others in the class to get an idea of the movements; the teacher will make sure your form is correct. Before you know it you’ll catch on and be flowing with your eyes closed.
2. It doesn’t matter if you can’t touch your toes. Every pose can be modified. Every body is different so every body does things differently. Yoga can do amazing things for you even if you never once touch your toes.
3. Come to the mat hydrated. Take in extra water in the 24 hours before class and try to avoid heavy foods for at least two hours before class.
4. Bring a friend. Friends who sweat together stay together. Check out partner yoga if you’re really feeling close.
5. It’s okay, you (most likely) didn’t walk into a cult. Yoga is a philosophy, not a religion. It often reflects Hinduism and Buddhism, but practicing yoga doesn’t equal practicing Hinduism or Buddhism. It’s okay to om.
6. Come with clean feet and an open mind. All that bending, stretching and twisting opens up space in your mind and heart. Don’t be surprised if you feel compelled to cry or hug the stranger next to you during practice.
7. Do it cheap. Check out the schedules of your local studios. Many places will offer free or reduced price classes to the community one day during the week or on the weekends.
8. It’s okay if it’s about more than the om. Yoga is a beautiful practice for the mind and heart, but sometimes it’s about getting a great workout or finally mastering a complex pose, too. Ha- sometimes it can even be a place to meet dates for after class.
9. It’s not about fancy yoga clothes. But it kind of helps. Wear clothes that are form-fitting so your teacher can see your form clearly but also flexible enough to allow for a full range of movement. Test your pants in a mirror before heading out- see-through fabric or peeking behinds may not be desirable, even in a no-judgement zone.
10. It’s going to be a good time. The best classes are when you fall on your face in an arm balance, fart on your neighbor or fall asleep in savasana. At the end of the day it’s just a bunch of people standing on sticky mats hoping for a better life and a better world.
“The last time I opened my chakra so I could feel my peace, I got thrown right out of the pub.” – Terri Guillemets
Do your practice yoga? What would you add to this list?