3 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Public Yoga Classes

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Thinking about trying a yoga class?  Today is your day!

Do you drive past your local yoga studio every day after work, longingly watching as the sweaty, blissed-out masses saunter off after class?  Do you subscribe to every yoga magazine you can find, reading up on everything from asanas to meditation?  Have you maybe even tried a few online yoga classes, perfecting your Adho muka svanasana, or downward facing dog, before taking it to the streets?  In other words, are you a closet yogi?

Well guess what?  Today is your day my friend!   It’s time to take your practice to the next level.  Take your yoga public!

Here, three tips on how to fully benefit from your public yoga class, whether it’s your first, tenth, or fiftieth class.

1. Observe carefully

It’s in your best interest to pay attention to how well your instructor pays attention to you.  Does she ask if it is anyone’s first yoga class, or if anyone has injuries?  Does she ask if the class has any special requests?  If your instructor makes little or no eye contact with students, sounds as though she is reading from a script, or doesn’t make herself approachable for questions or concerns, be honest with yourself about whether your instructor is truly being present for you and your practice.  If not, find one who will make your safety her primary responsibility.

2. Ask Questions

Ask questions, ask questions, ask questions!  Ask questions before class, during class, and after class.  Write your instructor a Facebook message and ask him a question if one pops up.  Write it down so you’ll remember to ask him the next time you meet.  The instructor’s purpose is to guide you through your yoga class, so if you’re confused about a cue or something just doesn’t feel right, ask why.  Ask how to fix it.

3. Stay Humble

Friends, this is so important!  There’s such a fine line between challenging yourself and accepting your own personal limitations. Honor your body where it’s at in every pose, every transition, and every breath.

And a few bonus tricks to help you ease in to public classes:
  • Drink plenty of water before and after class.  If it’s an extra sweaty class, replenish electrolytes with coconut water or some locally brewed Kombucha.
  • Don’t eat anything at least an hour before class.  Deep bending and twisting can cause upset stomach among other uncomfortable digestive issues if your body is still digesting your breakfast.
  • Bring your own mat.  Especially if you’re grossed out by the thought of someone else’s stinky, sweaty feet right where you’re resting your face in Balasana, or child’s pose.  It also usually causes a couple of dollars to rent mats from studios.
  • Wear comfortable clothes.  Snug fitting shorts and t-shirts work best, as it helps your instructor observe how your body is moving.  It also keeps your shirt from slumping up over your face while you’re bending over in Uttanasana, or standing forward fold.

And lastly, HAVE FUN!  Your body will feel differently today than it did yesterday, and different in the evening than it did in the morning.  Don’t judge where you’re at right now; accept it.  Be thankful for it.  Dive with your head and your heart in to each new practice, and into the realm of possibilities that each new breath, each new pose, and each new transition brings.

Namaste.

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[Editor’s note: This is a post from new DCOY contributor, Sean Devenport.  We’re excited to hear her perspective, observations, and life lessons from  her upcoming 500-hour RYT! 

seanyogaSean has dedicated her life to helping others find gratitude and loving kindness through the practice of yoga. Born in Delta, Colorado, Sean grew up in northern Wisconsin, and now calls Austin, Texas home. Her practice first began when her mom lent her some yoga-on-VHS tapes, and she’s been hooked ever since. However, it wasn’t until she graduated from Ripon College with a BA degree in Psychology that Sean decided to take the next step in her practice and become a yoga instructor. With encouragement from her teacher, Stevie Lake, Sean got her 200-hour RYT certification with Gioconda Yoga in Austin, and is set to complete her 500-hour RYT certification with Gioconda and Christina Sell at the San Marcos School of Yoga in the fall of 2013. With her background in Psychology, Sean describes her yoga classes to be “like therapy, without having to talk about it.” Students can feel free to move, reflect and unwind in whatever way honors where their bodies, minds and spirits are at in every moment, and with every breath. Having the opportunity to train with compassionate yoginis like Stevie, Gioconda, Christina and so many others, Sean finds her capacity for connection, worthiness, and love through the practice of yoga.  Connect with Sean on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.
Photo credit: lululemon on flickr
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