Deciding that you want to start doing yoga is the first step. It's easy to get stuck there, though. Don't be intimidated! You basically do not need anything to practice yoga. The important thing is the attitude - how you show up and the words you say to yourself.
If you come from a place that “you don’t know”, you are in a good spot. You’re there to learn. If you already know everything, then what’s the point of going for class. Right?
I love teaching beginners in class. They are malleable as in they are willing to try something new. The more experienced tend to stay in their default, comfortable “this is the right way”.
Consider that there is no right or wrong to doing yoga?
Consider why you are doing yoga?
Consider that every time you come on your mat, your body is different?
Consider that you are unique?
Whether you are new to yoga or you’re an aspirational beginner or just coming back to yoga after a long hiatus or recovering from an injury or you’re an experienced yogi - YES even if you know it/done it/seen it already……...
Be a YES to being intentional and creating something new for yourselves.
Get out of your comfort zone.
Allow yourselves to drop what you know, be a beginner again and BE WITH your neighbour, who may be a "real" beginner.
The truth is you are no different from the yogi next to you. We are all the same.
This guide really is for anyone, wherever you are at in your practice. And if you are here, you are ready right now to do the work.
The beauty of yoga is that it can be adapted to suit the needs to every body and to any bodies. All that is needed is an open mind and a willingness to explore your body. Yoga is more than the Asanas (physical aspect); there is Meditation (using breath as a guide) and Inquiry (practice of being curious and in self-discovery). With time and patience, yoga will provide you with a greater sense of well-being, which extends beyond your mat.
Let’s get excited about Yoga……..
sign up for classes
You can drop in but I’d suggesting do the actual work, and sign up for class, pay for it, and schedule the classes, so you will be in action to show up. If you don’t schedule, it will never happen.
Wear comfortable clothing
…that will allow you room to move around without discomfort. And be mindful of the translucency of the material and the “shortness” of the shorts.
Try not to drink or eat too much an hour and a half before class starts
Coming to class with an empty bladder and bowels always helps!
If you are like me, and you need a little sustenance to keep your energy up, grab a couple of dates, an apple, half a banana or a protein bar. If I have the time, I’ll make myself a green avocado smoothie.
Please ensure that you’ve showered and smelling good and clean. And out of consideration for others, please try to refrain from wearing strong fragrances such as perfumes and lotions.
Check if the studio provide mats
Most studios in Singapore do, so not to worry. If they don’t, check this post for tips on how to choose/ buy a yoga mat.
Bring a towel and water to class
Some studios offer towels for free or pay $1 to rent. So please check with the studio.
Same thing with the water - some provide water dispenser/water cooler to refill, some with purchase and some none at all. It is important to stay hydrated.
And again, if you forget to bring a bottle, it’s not a big issue. I’ve forgotten mine a lot of times when rushing. Drink more after please.
Come to the studio 10-15 minutes early
This is to get familiarize yourself with the space and to get setup for your first class. You can get to know your teacher and let her/him know about any injuries or physical limitations. Especially if you are new, or your are pregnant, that you want your teacher to be aware of. If you didn’t purchase a class and fill out a waiver online, you will have time to do that as well. And if you’re not new, perfect opportunity to connect with your community.
Grab a block and a strap
Always take your yoga props if it’s available, even if it’s not requested by the teacher. The props are there to support and even to deepen your practice.
Choose a good spot
Find a mat where you can better hear or see the teacher. Stop hiding. You’ve already arrived! You’ve blocked out 1 hour for this. You’ve paid your money. Have the best experience you can have on your mat.
Don’t know what to do when you are seated? - Meditate or lie down and rest before class starts.
Turn off or silence your phone
If the studio does not have a locker to keep your phones, please turn off your phones.
Try not have business calls scheduled during class. If there is an important last minute calls - try reschedule your class. It’s disruptive to leave in the middle of the class AND It’s important that you have this ME-time because it’s your time.
Otherwise, inform your teacher, and choose a mat close to the door, so you can leave quietly to take the call.
Raise your hand
Before class starts, the teacher usually ask if there’s anyone new or have any injuries or conditions before class. Raise your hands, so the teacher knows where you are, or if you’re uncomfortable about being “out there”, catch the teacher before class and let her/him know in private.
You have the courage
Even though I’ve practised for a long time now, I still get nervous before a class that I’ve not done before, or if I’ve not done a yoga class in a while. A mantra that helped me through my negative narratives was repeating my WHY - “I’m here to get stronger”. Get clear on your WHY
Look and Listen
Look to the other students or the teacher if she’s demo-ing for the shape of the pose, and listen to the teachers cue. It’s Ok if you get confused; or you put right foot instead instead or left. It’s ok if you didn’t get it right the first time and It’s ok if you’re not sure you’re doing the “right” thing. You’re doing just fine! Have fun with it.
Don't compare yourself to others
It's very easy to judge yourself, your body, your flexibility in a class full of “accomplished” yogis. Keep your drishti on your mat and breathe. Yes, follow the shape of the pose, but find your own version. It doesn’t matter what you look like, because our bodies will look different. Feel the pose, experience the pose, be in the pose. Practice and all is coming as they say.
Listen to your body. Don’t be afraid to get into child pose’s whenever you need it. Baron says “come as you are and not what you think you should be” if that practice require to back off and slow down, then do that. You showed up, when you didn’t feel like it - that’s the most important thing. It is your practice, and not your teacher’s or your neighbour’s practice.
Patanjali says - the real yoga begins when you want to come out of the pose.
Yoga does get uncomfortable. Your legs feel like they are going to drop off, like you want to puke or you have difficulty breathing. And you can’t stop the word in your mind that keeps repeating on “I can’t. Get me out. It’s not me.”
Pause, get out of the pose, sit down and breathe. Try a child’s pose with your forehead on top of your stacked fists, or sit in hero’s pose, or if you get dizzy, lie down and prop legs up on a block.
If you have any health issues like low or high blood pressure, vertigo etc, please consult your doctor before attending any yoga classes, and please inform your teacher beforehand.
This is the most important pose in yoga. Don’t be in a rush to leave.
For a lot of students savasana (final rest pose) can be the most challenging because most of us are used to being in constant motion, and lying still with ourselves and our thoughts, with no movement to distract us, can be a new experience. Again, just start where you are, and try to avoid judging your experience. It’s an opportunity to focus your attention inwards and giving your “ME” the love that it deserves.
Savasana will give you access to get present, awakened and ready for what’s coming up next for you.
Ask questions to your teacher after class
Or to just say thank you. Connect with your teacher especially if you know you’re coming back to class. Say one thing great about the class. Us teachers, are human beings - we need human connection. And there is no need to put us on a pedestal.
(For me, it helps me remember your names, which is something I’m working on - remembering names.)
Check your mats if you’ve left anything behind. Clear the props away and if required, wipe your mats down.
Keep Coming back
If you like the teacher - keep coming back.
If you like the style of yoga - keep coming back
If you don’t like the style yoga/teacher - try some other style/teacher and keep coming back.
If you’re not sure if you like yoga - keep coming back.
See you on the mat soon.
If you have any other tips, let me know so I can update this guide. Your feedback is very important to me.