Can’t make sense of that wall full of blankets? Not sure what Namaste means? This cheat sheet will help take the guesswork out of your yoga class and allow you to settle more comfortably into your mind-body connection.
- Grab all the props. Despite what you might be thinking, props are not crutches. They can actually help advance even the most experienced of yogis. Grab two blocks, a strap, and a blanket, if you can.
- Blocks can be used to bring the earth closer to you. Creating a deep engagement by grounding your hands down onto your block will allow for more rotation in poses like trikonasana (triangle pose) or Utthita Parsvakonasana (side angle pose). They also make great aids for supportive poses. Take note that your block has three heights. Play around with this to find the height that works best for you in each pose.
- Straps are an excellent way to help your hand get closer to your foot or other hand. They also can be used to help your shoulders from splaying open in inversions or poses like down dog.
- Does sitting on the ground feel less like playful childhood and more like a form of torture? Try lifting your hips onto a folded blanket or a block. Getting your hips higher than your knees will allow more comfortable and safer seated poses.
- Ask your teacher for modifications. Fortunately for us Westerners, we don’t have to have the body of B.K.S Lyengar to enjoy the benefits of yoga. Not all bodies are shaped the same, and not all poses need to be either. While you might not be able to jump right into a full Hanumanasa (full splits), there are many modifications that can still bring the same benefit of the pose to even the most inflexible of us all. Forcing your body into a pose that isn’t right for you on a given day can lead to injury, a distracted mind, and a cranky yoga experience. Remember that what felt okay in your last practice might not feel best today. Additionally, it’s important to let your teacher know of any injuries so he/she can offer modifications and keep an eye out to make sure you’re not contributing to further injury. Honor yourself by finding the modifications that work best with you.
- Find that perfect spot. Do you get easily distracted? Find a spot in the front row. Fear not about being the teacher’s pet, and focus on finding a spot that will allow you to check distracting thoughts at the door. If there’s a clock in the room, face away from it, and leave your phone or other reminders of your to-do list off the mat. Rather be anonymous? Place yourself in the middle of the pack so your Warrior Two gets lost in the midst of flying arms and jangly legs. Once you enter the studio, create a space that will allow you to enter the present moment and enjoy your yoga bliss.
- Bring a notepad or journal to jot down notes afterwards. We often leave our yoga mats feeling blissed out, patient, and filled with optimism. But it only takes bad traffic, an inconsiderate pedestrian, or a cranky voicemail to snap us into a pattern of negativity. By writing down cues that resonated with you, positive thoughts, or other takeaway nuggets from your class, you can quickly return to your yoga work off the mat bringing the benefits into your daily life.
- Namaste. While every yoga class may differ in many ways, all will end by acknowledging each other’s presence and inner good. While the direct translation from Sanskrit means “I bow to you,” many yogis translate this phrase to mean the purest part of them bows and acknowledges the purest part of you.
After reading all these tips and to-dos, the last thing to do is forget it all! Let it all go. Let your mind be in the moment, tune in to let your own heart be your guide, and enjoy!
LulaFit Yoga Instructor