What’s yoga all about?
First of all, there are many different types of yoga. Slow, relaxing classes; power yoga classes; alignment based classes; spiritual classes; and everything in between. It is crucial to find the right type of yoga and the right teacher for you. What are your goals when you think about your yoga practice?
Yoga is for every body. You don’t have to be a certain size or shape to do yoga. I commonly hear people say that they are not flexible enough for yoga. That is the exact reason why you go to yoga class. Yoga class is a safe place to start your yoga journey. Your balance changes every day (really) and your flexibility comes and goes throughout your life. I teach five year olds yoga and some can touch their toes – no problem. Others can barely stretch past their knees. We all start at a different point, but we come to class to work towards the same goal in a supportive, positive environment.
What does vinyasa mean? Vinyasa means ‘moving with breath’ – the goal is to move in and out of poses with your breath as a sort of moving meditation. Moving with breath creates expansion in the body and allows deeper openings in postures. A vinyasa is often a sun salutation as an extension of a yoga sequence. Teachers will instruct you to move through a vinyasa. Starting in tadasana arms extend overhead on the inhale, exhale folding forward, inhale flat back (lengthen spine), exhale step back to plank pose and lower halfway down (chaturanga), inhale upward facing dog, exhale downward facing dog. Breathe.
Do your thing. This was a concept I really didn’t understand until I went through teacher’s training. Yoga teachers often give options in class. Do A, B, or C. I always went for the hardest option if it was given to me. Even if I wasn’t feeling it, even if it didn’t feel right. Teachers are there to guide you through your practice. Take what works for you and modify as needed. Your yoga practice will change throughout time and that is why yoga can sustain as a workout and lifestyle. There are some poses that I just don’t do. I don’t like the way they feel so I don’t do them. There are poses that I can do, but choose to do the modified or easier version instead. I can get a better stretch in half splits than in full splits. There are poses I prefer to use a block with (even though I don’t “need” it), as I feel more of a stretch. Know that you can opt out at any point and take a break in child’s pose. Honor your body – nobody is judging you.
What’s my teaching style? I was SO fortunate to have a very solid, comprehensive training from La Jolla Yoga Center in San Diego, CA. My training was in vinyasa yoga with an emphasis on alignment (Anusara alignment principles). Additionally, I apprenticed with an Iyengar teacher, giving me exposure to props and therapeutic applications with each posture. As a teacher working with athletes/injuries, I’ve studied under Bo Forbes, learning to regulate the nervous system through yoga and meditation. I teach different sequences every class, incorporating postures for a well-rounded class. Long savasanas are my favorite – the nervous system can integrate all the work from class and students leave feeling rejuvenated. I do not take myself too seriously and want people to have a good time in yoga. I tend to stay away from typical yoga music – that is my preference and I love the good vibes from a fun playlist.
BTW, what does ‘namaste’ mean? Namaste translates to “the light in me honors the light in you” – we say it at the end of yoga class. Sitting with hands at heart we bow and say ‘namaste’ to our teacher after they say it to us. It basically means, “thank you, I respect you.”
What do you need to get started? A yoga mat. There are lots of different types at different price points. I use The Mat from lululemon. My hands used to slide around on other mats and I love the grip on the lululemon mat. It’s expensive, but worth it, especially if you are practicing yoga several times a week. Two yoga blocks can be very helpful to help you feel the correct alignment in poses. Yoga blocks are pretty cheap, and you can find them online or in stores. Grab a yoga strap or bring a long sleeved shirt with you to class. They will help with binds and forward folds. Bring a towel and water for a hot yoga class. If you are practicing at home, having a blanket or two handy will help. Use for padding under knees or to sit on for many poses.