Let awareness and sensation lead you. Let each breath deliver a gift. Let the mind be the mind. Under restlessness, one layer deeper is calm.
Do not eat a full meal for at least two hours before your class. Be sure that you wear comfortable clothing that will not get in the way of stretching. You may want to wear a layer that can be removed when you warm up and put back on at the end of class for the relaxation pose. Please be on time. Arriving a few minutes early to class gives you the opportunity to relax or stretch and prepare yourself for class. Please leave all cell phones off and worries outside the studio door along with your shoes. We will practice in bare feet.
The most important thing to remember during a practice is that it is an exploration. Each posture is an experiment and the results vary. Go slowly and listen to your body. Work toward acceptance and active engagement. Learn to determine whether you are pushing yourself too hard or lightly challenging yourself and need to try a little more. The postures require sthira and sukha – steadiness and comfort. In a society that pushes us to do more, offers constant external stimulation and focus on results, yoga postures are about being at peace internally with whatever you do.
And remember to breathe. When you are breathing in harmony with your movements, you are paying attention in a deep way. Your job is not to do more in the poses but to modify them so you can continue to breathe in a comfortable, harmonious way. Mindful awareness of the breath and body not only prevent injury but are also what the heart of what yoga is all about.
Consider the yoga studio as a room of small accomplishments; what you do in the yoga room becomes practice for what you do in life. One benefit of yoga can be that we put controlled stress on ourselves in a safe environment and observe our reactions without attaching to them. We also get to experience what it is like to succeed, relax and feel good in our bodies. Your teacher is guiding the experience, but each individual will have their own unique experience. We can all learn how to respond to challenges in our lives, recognize and enjoy our strengths and get to know ourselves from the inside out.
After the relaxation pose at the end of your session, note how you feel. If there is a feeling of lightness and equinamity in your body and nervous system, you are on the right track. We may have bumped up to restrictions in the body, but we have control over the agitations of the mind – self exploration with compassionate discipline. Remind yourself at the end of class that it is not about what you said to yourself or what pose you did, it is about how you feel.