Your First Class – What to Expect

Yoga is a great way to take a little time out for yourself. It will benefit both your body and mind. Expect to be challenged, inspired and surprised. One of the most amazing things about yoga is that you tend to get exactly what you need from each class, even if it is not what you thought you needed!

When preparing for class, find comfortable clothes to wear. You’ll want something loose enough to move around in, but not too revealing when you’re twisting around. You’ll be practicing barefoot, so wear something easy to slip in and out of…shoes are usually left outside of the yoga studio room.

You’ll want to find a good mat. There are many great brands and many lengths and thicknesses. You can email us for suggestions, or borrow one from us to get started. We recommend a “sticky mat” so you don’t slide around during some of the poses.

Don’t wear handlotion or oils to class. Also, don’t wear any perfumes or scented lotions, as they are very distracting in a warm yoga room, not to mention others may find them irritable.

Sometimes teachers give “adjustments”. This doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong – they are just taking you deeper into the pose. Most students love these! If you prefer not to be adjusted during practice, just let your teacher know before class…or anytime during. And it’s ok to let them know if something is uncomfortable or hurting. There shouldn’t be any physical pain during yoga.

Be sure to follow along with the class. If you can’t do the poses or keep up, take a break anytime by going into child’s pose. This is very common and your teacher will know immediately that you are just taking a little break. Do not start doing your own practice, however, in the middle of a class, as it is distracting to the other students in the class.

The most important things to remember during your practice will be breathing, relaxing, and not hurting yourself. Yoga is a practice of patience and persistence. It is important that you practice on a regular basis and soon you’ll notice things changing – your body, your perception, your life. We look forward to practicing with you!

What is Yoga?

The word “Yoga” is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj meaning to bind, join, attach and yoke; to direct and concentrate one’s attention on, to use and apply. The practice of Yoga focuses on the desire for a profound understanding or insight into the nature of existence. It is the study of one’s self, and discipline of action. It is learning to live in the moment, to experience a joyful life free from pain and sorrow.

Yoga is an ancient philosophy; one of the six orthodox systems of Indian philosophy. In his Yoga Sutras, Patanjali created a system by which the individual spirit can be united to the Supreme Universal Spirit of which it is a part. Patanjali identified 8 Limbs or Stages of Yoga.

1. Yamas – The Yamas or restraints (Don’ts) are divided into five moral injuctions aimed at destroying the lower nature. They should all be practiced in word, thought and deed.
• Ahimsa or non-violence
• Satyam or truthfulness
• Brahmacharya or moderation in all things
• Asteya or non-stealing
• Aparigraha or non-covetousness

2. Niyamas – The Niyamas or observances (Do’s) complete the ethical precepts started with the Yama. These qualities are:
• Saucha or purity; internal and external cleanliness
• Santosha or contentment
• Tapas or austerity
• Swadhyaya or study of the sacred texts
• Ishwara Pranidhana which is constantly living with an awareness of the divine Presence

3. Asanas – the most well-known of the Eight Limbs. It consists of the physical postures one practices to maintain a healthy body. The body is the vessel for the spirit. It must be fit.

4. Pranayama – regulation or control of the breath. Asanas and Pranayama form the sub-division of Raja Yoga known as Hatha-Yoga

5. Pratyahara – withdrawal of the senses in order to still the mind. The mind brings bondage if it is tied to objects of desire. It brings liberation when it is free from objects.

6. Dharana – concentration. The last 3 steps constitute the internal practice of Raja Yoga. When Dharana is achieved, it leads to the next step:

7. Dhyana – meditation is that state of pure thought and absorption in the object of meditation. There is still duality in Dhyana. When mastered Dhyana leads to the last step:

8. Samadhi – the superconscious state. In Samadhi non-duality or oneness is experienced. This is the deepest and highest state of consciousness where body and mind have been transcended and the Yogi is one with the Self or God.

Health Benefits of Yoga

The following is a summary of the results of a survey conducted by Yoga Biomedical Trust in 1983-84.

3000 individuals with health ailments for which yoga was prescribed as an alternative therapy were surveyed. The results show that yoga is very effective for treating alcoholism, back pain, nerve or muscle disease, heart disease management, anxiety, arthritis, ulcers and managing cancer. The complete results are shown in the table below.

Ailment Number of Cases Reporting % Claiming Benefit
Back Pain 1,142 98
Arthritis or rheumatism 589 90
Anxiety 838 94
Migraine 464 80
Insomnia 542 82
Nerve or muscle disease 112 96
Menstrual problems 317 88
Premenstrual tension 848 77
Menopause disorders 247 83
Hypertension 150 84
Heart disease 50 94
Asthma or bronchitis 226 88
Duodenal ulcers 40 90
Hemorrhoids 391 88
Obesity 240 74
Diabetes 10 80
Cancer 29 90
Tobacco addiction 219 74
Alcoholism 26 100