So, what happens when you attend a Yoga class?
You might know a friend who is into Yoga, you might have seen a few misleading photos, or you might have attended a few classes, but what is what happens during a Yoga class?
Let’s start from the practical side, when you get to the class you will be greeted by an instructor, given a Yoga mat and perhaps without you expecting it, the teacher will also give you a brick, a block, a belt and a blanket, you don’t know at this stage how useful these little things will be until you start your practice. All geared up you go to your mat to sit on the floor waiting to see what is to unfold next.
Now let’s look at what perhaps is going on in your mind: A cascade of thoughts might be running towards you: Am I flexible enough? Will I enjoy this?, am I thin enough? And some might even ask, why on earth am I here sitting next to people who seem to enjoy being crossed legged while I am not!.
If you come to my class you will smell the soft aroma of incense burning that creates a space that is different from the street, it is a kind of message that indicates that the Yoga class is set in an environment which will enable you to relax and eventually to transform.
As you sit and the class begins the teacher will ask you to leave the stress outside the Yoga studio, to bring your mind (who is often wandering in the past, future or somewhere different than the class) to the present moment, to start the union of body and mind, you will be guided to do a gentle scan of your body and you will be surprised at what you feel, some of us spent most of the day ignoring how we feel as we are too “busy”, you might acknowledge some pains, and if you are sensitive enough you might even become aware of areas of your body that are holding tension which you ignored before. As the warm up begins you start softening the joints alongside the ligaments, tendons and muscles, your teacher will ask you to coordinate breath and movement, you might even be invited to close your eyes in certain poses, by this time your mind will start to be a little bit more quieter and relaxed, and it will continue to do so as the warm up leads up to a series of poses that invite you to stretch, release, expand... finishing with a peak pose and a blissful relaxation at the end in Savasana (lying down).
..........You will probably liked what happened in that studio and you might want to return and make Yoga part of your life. Now let's take a look to what happens to your body and mind as a result of this?
As you progress in Yoga, you will notice that your muscles become stronger and more flexible, your balance improves and you start enjoying some of the poses you found uncomfortable to start with, what you might not know is that your mind is also becoming stronger and more flexible, you will feel how your breath expands your rib cage and contracts it, the more you advance the more aware you are of subtle movements of your body, in fact you will be able to feel your body more and more so you can actually live in it!. If you are taught Pranayama (breathing practice) then you will be given tools you can use to relax or energize your body.
Those who have practised Yoga know that they have a series of grounding exercises they can use in their daily lives which will enable them to be more present, to be more effective. So your body becomes stronger and with the right practice your mind becomes sharper, ready for the challenges ahead instead of ignoring them. Yoga will give you the space to listen to your inner voice, and it will not be easy at times as we are used to and programmed to get distracted to avoid listening to ourselves, but it will be so worth it. Important teacher and Guru’s explain that Yoga is also about self-acceptance, learning how to deal with our physical and mental limitations, accepting them and learning how to move forward, Yoga isn’t about touching your toes or standing on your head, for me Yoga is being able to stand firmly on your feet knowing who you are, ready for what is needed from you at challenging times.
The amazing thing about Yoga is that it starts peeling off the layers of your mind, little by little (or massive steps at the time), and this process never ends. Yoga works at different levels: mental, emotional, physical and energetic, and even though every person internalizes the practice in a different manner, the impact is real if you practice long enough. Go ahead and find out what Yoga can do for your body, your mind, your live and your relationships. It is worth the try!
You are welcome to join my class at the Yoga station in Whitley Bay on Tuesday 6:30 pm.
Yoga teacher & Senior Scientist working full time with a major Multinational.