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Archive for new year

What to expect at your first yoga class…

A New Year is coming up, and you’ve decided this is the year you will a) lose weight, b) get fit, c) find peace, or d) all of the above. So you are ready to sign up for your first yoga class- Yay! Except…what are you getting yourself into? What if everyone there is a) skinny, b) flexible beyond belief, c) they meditate!, d) all of the above? It’s all a bit much, right?

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Yoga class on the beach- look at these bodies!

Here’s what you can expect: there will be all kinds of bodies there (see the picture above), at all levels of flexibility, fitness, and reasons for being there. Some will be first-timers like you, some will have some yoga experience. Some will have fashionable yoga clothes, the newest yoga mats, the latest accessories. Some will be wearing shorts and t-shirts, will have ratty mats, and no designer water bottles. No one will stare at you or judge you on your yoga chops, or your lack of yoga chops, and if they do, just smile at them and say “Namaste” (nah-mah-stay), the all-purpose yoga greeting which basically means, “We’re all the same, you and me.”

Many classes, like mine, begin with a period of meditation, and some people have a little trouble with this, for various reasons. Some folks are just not used to sitting quietly, in stillness, for any length of time. Some have been told or heard that it is against Christian beliefs, but many others, Christians and other religious believers, that while prayer is talking to God, meditation is listening for the reply. It can also be defined as a period of focus, of “thinking with love” (Apostle Paul) on peace, or God, or Jesus, or being kind, or giving thanks. To quote Psalms 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God”.

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After the beginning meditation, prepare to sweat! A warm-up period usually follows, which serves to not only prepare the body for the poses that follow, but also focuses the mind, and begins to lengthen and strengthen your breathing to give you a strong foundation and continuing energy boosting. After the warm-up, the class transitions into the traditional yoga poses, like downward dog, or Triangle pose, to strengthen the body, work your muscles, and trim off those extra pounds. Yes, you will get frustrated, as some poses are more challenging than others, but so will others in the class, and yes, you may be sore the next day, but keep with your commitment and be proud of the soreness! You are on your way to looking and feeling stronger, to determination of mind and peace of spirit.

At the end of many classes, there will be a period of rest, usually a time of lying peacefully and quietly on your mat, either in silence or to soothing music or the sound of bells ringing. Congratulate yourself on this first step you’ve taken on your new path to wellness, mindfulness and peace. Smile gently to yourself and look forward to continued progress on your journey.

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And now, let’s look at choosing your first class. First, why choose a class to go to at all? Can’t you just go to YouTube, find a video to follow, and do it at home? Yes, you can, but here’s why this is not the best option: Commitment. In order to make a real change in your life, you need to commit your time, your money, your self to the practice. Will you do this at home, where every thing and everyone there wants your attention and it’s too easy to say, I’ll practice later, just as soon as I do this, feed that, go here, be there? Probably not, and certainly not at the level of commitment that you need to make a real change.

So, use all this technology we have at our disposal to find yoga studios near you. Look at their class offerings, and find one that is a beginner level class. Look at their pricing system, and see if they offer a free starter class, so that you can go once to see if you like the class, the instructor, the feel of the place, and if it’s going to be for you or not. If you dislike or feel uncomfortable with any of these things, find the next place, ask for a free taste of the class, and see how you like that one.

At IslandLotus Yoga, where I teach Raja Yoga, I offer you your first class free, and am currently offering a gift certificate for a free class, which can be used anytime. If Knotts Island is too far for you, Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake are loaded with yoga studios, spas that offer yoga, yoga teachers that offer private lessons. Very easy to find a place to begin.

Now, after checking out places and teachers and finding a place where you are comfortable, make that commitment to yourself by signing up for one of the multiple class plans. Then, put your body where your money is, and attend those classes!

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