~ Danielle Orner
Yoga is translated from the Sanskrit most simply as union — or yoking — referring to bringing the body, breath and attention into union. Yoga is the lifestyle practices that foster a connection of breath, body and attention. It is a journey and a process, cultivated day by day. Asana, or the physical practice of movement and postures, is the most commonly known aspect of yoga. In addition to Asana, yoga includes seven other “Limbs” of practice that can be used as guidelines for approaching our lives and the world from a place of intention and connectedness.
Absolutely! Actually, that’s all the more reason to do yoga. Increased flexibility is a benefit of doing yoga, but it’s so much more that that. Yoga is also about cultivating strength, supporting cardio health and increasing our muscles of attention.
We are all immeasurably unique, each with our own anatomy, strengths, flexibility, tightness, and stamina. No two people in any one posture will EVER look exactly the same. It’s far more important that you discover your fullest expression of the pose, knowing this means something different for everybody.
Not only is it okay to take a break, rest in Child’s Pose or Savasana on your back at any point during the class, it’s actually encouraged. Our yoga practice is different every day – sometimes we’re tight, sometimes we’re sore, sometimes we’re strong, sometimes we’re tired. Paying attention and listening to what your body needs, in the moment, is a very important skill to learn. When you’re feeling energized – go for it! Find your edge, and discover strength you didn’t even know you had. When your body asks to rest, give yourself permission to rest.
I recommend wearing comfortable clothing that you can move in easily. Not so baggy that you have to constantly adjust your clothes and not so tight that you feel constricted in the poses. Leggings, sweatpants, bike shorts, t-shirts, tank tops and sweatshirts are all good options.
Bring a yoga mat (some studios have yoga mats to loan or rent) and an open mind with a bit of curiosity to every practice. Also, consider bringing a water bottle (if it’s a hot yoga class), small hand towel, and/or a hair clip/band.
Arrive 15 minutes before class giving yourself time to set up and settle in, gently transitioning from your day.
Many teachers offer hands-on assists and adjustments. The intention is to facilitate your exploration of a posture; to help you to deeper, expand, strengthen and/or improve alignment. Many people love hands-on assists, but some do not. You do not have to receive hands-on assists. Simply let your teacher know if they offer. Many times a teacher will ask at the beginning of class if anyone does not want hands-on assists or adjustments.
It is recommended to practice yoga on an empty stomach. Eating an hour or 2 before or something very light 30 minutes before class. Give your body what it needs and pay attention to how you feel.
Drink plenty of water and when you feel hungry, eat something nourishing.
OM is often chanted at the beginning and/or at the end of yoga a class. It is considered the sound of the universe, the sound from which all sounds come, and the space from which all things are possible. By chanting we bring our voices together, creating a shared experience and bringing a bit of vibration into the room, which almost immediately connects us to our breaths and bodies. You do not have to chant OM if you don’t want to. You may choose to sit in silence instead.
Namaste is translated from the Sanskrit, “Nama” which means bow, “as” which means I, and “te” which means you. Simply put – Namaste means “I bow to you.”
The deeper meaning is the divine spark within me sees, recognizes and bows to the divine spark within you. My soul sees and honors your soul, my spirit sees and honors your spirit.
Teachers often say Namaste to end a class which is then repeated back by the students as a mutual acknowledgement of effort and presence. Don’t feel like you have to say Namaste after class. It’s completely optional.