OPTIONS TO LEARN YOGA
New Student Special
Your first class is free when you purchase a class pass the same day.
Introduction to Yoga
This 3 class series is designed to teach the fundamentals of yoga including asana (posture), pranayama (breathing), meditation and some philosophy. It is appropriate for anyone new to yoga or returning to yoga. Learn safe and comfortable alignment for your body, how to use props to make poses more accessible and take them deeper. Choosing the right class for your needs is an important part of a successful practice. You will be confident and prepared to enter our weekly yoga classes, or use this as a foundation for a home practice. Discover the many physical, emotional and energetic benefits of yoga. Learn lots of tools and tips so you can build a safe, joyful, lifelong practice!
If you are new to yoga and hesitant to learn in a group setting, schedule a private class with a family member or friend and learn together! Private instruction can also be helpful if you want to create a personalized home yoga practice, prefer a tailored therapeutic practice to address a specific injury or illness, or have reached a plateau and would like to get more out of your current practice.
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 doing only as much as you need to and being at peace with the results.
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 of the great benefits of yoga is that we put controlled stress on ourselves in a safe environment and can observe our reactions without attaching to them. Your teacher is guiding the experience and not everyone is going to have the same experience, but we can all learn how to better respond to challenges in our lives.
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 did, it is about how you feel.
The Victorious Breath
Once you can practice balanced breath (equal inhale and exhale through the nose) with ease for 10-15 minutes, you can move on to the practice of ujjayi pranayama (the victorious breath). Ujjayi breathing is balanced breath with the addition of a slight closure at the root of your throat. Narrowing the throat by half-closing the epiglottis (the piece of cartilage at the top of your voice box) gives your breath a voice; think Darth Vader – the concept for his vocal breath came from uijayi. At first, you may wonder exactly how to manipulate the epiglottal valve at the root of your throat. Here are two methods to help you learn this action: First, let out a long sigh; feel the air vibrate softly and the slight constriction in the back of your throat. That is the area you need to control when your practicing ujjayi.
A second way is to open your mouth and inhale softly, noticing where the breath touches your throat. For most people, that will be deep down at the base and back of the throat. Again, that is the spot you need to constrict slightly to practice ujjayi. After you have zeroed in on this area, close your mouth and inhale, letting the breath touch your throat there. Once you can inhale in this way, practice exhaling through the nose with the same constriction of the epiglottis. Breathing is the single most important aspect of yoga. Specifically, the ujjayi breath has several important advantages:
- Narrowing the valve in the throat gives you more control over the air flow, allowing you to lengthen and deepen your breath.
- The lungs and diaphragm are strengthened since they have to pull harder against the resistance of the throat.
- The sound made by ujjayi breathing draws attention to the breath and acts as a built-in safety mechanism, as the quality of the breath is representative of the quality of your practice.
- Over time, you will learn to coordinate your movements with your breath, typically inhaling on upward movements and movements that open up the front of the body; exhaling during downward movements and movements that open up the back of the body. In other words, when you expand or open, you create more room for air to enter; and when you fold or close, air is squeezed out.