You're reading the Yoga Weekly Wonders... again. If you aren't a teacher, and you don't practice regularly, I'd be inclined to say that if you aren't a close friend or family member subscribing to my blog, that you might just be a little more than intrigued with this yoga stuff. However, maybe you still aren't ready to step into a studio... yet.
It can be intimidating, and if you have that inner critic, that afraid-to-try-anything-new part of you might start piping up with all those questions that stop people from going further than just thinking about something. What if you're the only one in the studio? What if you're dressed 'wrong'? What if you're in the front row? What if you don't know what your're doing? Did they just look at me weird? What if you place your mat the wrong way? Wear shoes into the studio? Wait a minute... What if you don't have a mat? Wait a minute, you need blocks? What is this, Romper Room?
Whoa!!!! Step back, and sigh.it.out. Let's start with acknowledging the obvious. You WANT to try yoga! Way to go! And you want to try it enough that you are actually envisioning yourself IN a studio. Good for you.
I'm going to let you in on a the Golden Ticket, so when you walk into the studio and meet your teacher, they'll know you're new, and (hopefully!) welcome you into the space with a warm smile and kind eyes. Soooo.... IF the teacher didn't ask you if you are new to the studio and further asked if you were new to yoga, here's your Golden Ticket ... but for some reason, it's really tough to say. And this is greater than just yoga, because it pertains to everything. Personally, I think the reason behind not stating and asking this more often in life is because, once you say it, you're going to feel weird ... even stupid ... and definitely vulnerable. You know, all those yucky feelings that we secretly wish would go away, but without them we would be none the wiser, like, everrrr. Ok, I digress ... Ready for your Golden Ticket?
"I'm new ... can you help me get set up?"
Mind ... blown, amiright? (aren't their commercials genius?)
If you've come this far and are ok with handing over that nine word ticket (followed by shuffling your feet, looking down, blushing, making a silly joke, whispering, mumbling, or laughing after you said it, all of which I've done multiple times), secretly congratulate yourself on stepping out of your comfort zone and getting through the awkward part!
Now, you have a few options ahead of you.
Option 1: If you are one that normally steps out of your comfort zone, then you march right into that studio and take that class. BUT FIRST, get in touch with me so I can pick your brain on stepping out of your comfort zone. ;-)
Option 2: If you have a friend that practices yoga, ask them to join you. Then you aren't trying something new alone. If you don't have any friends that practice yoga and you're forging your own path, or are on some kind of a dare by your friends, move on to ...
Option 3: Here are the answers to some of the questions you might have:
What if you're the only one in the studio? Consider yourself lucky. As intimidating as it may be, especially if you are brand new to something, try looking at it this way: you just paid a FRACTION of the cost of what you would pay for a private lesson. And, if you took my advice and offered your ticket, the teacher will know to give you a lot of cues when class begins.
What if you're dressed 'wrong'? Unless you're wearing jeans and a button up, which I've seen people busting out poses on Instagram in both, there really isn't a wrong way to dress for yoga. Assume that you will be doing a pose that will make any shirt you have expose your belly, and take the proper precautions to cover up as needed/wanted ... think form fitting if you don't want people to see your stomach. There is nothing more distracting for me then to be constantly tugging at my shirt during practice. Personally, I wear a tank top that I know will not go anywhere in my poses, and leggings or capris. You might not feel comfortable in that ... so I encourage you to dress comfortably in an outfit that will allow you to move freely in your poses. I don't know about you, but if I am not happy with what I am wearing, I am not confident in what I am doing. DON'T WEAR AN OUTFIT YOU DON'T LIKE BECAUSE YOU THINK YOU HAVE TO. No, no, no, no, no. As you get more comfortable with yoga, you can shop for 'workout' clothes, but don't buy into the hype.
Some people might not agree with me on this, stating that in comfortable clothes, the teacher might not be able to see your body to adjust you properly, and would prefer tighter fitting clothing in order to help you. I think, as long as you're really listening to how the teacher is telling you to position your body, you will be ok. You're already out of your comfort zone in trying something new; at least give yourself the freedom to try that something new wearing something you feel fabulous in. No, not your prom dress or tuxedo.
As a side note here: When I was still pretty new and had signed up for a level two intro to yoga series, I showed up wearing a t-shirt and jogging pants. The room was heated to ninety degrees, I had no towel to mop up my sweat, and spent most of the class tucking my t-shirt into my jogging pants in a failed effort to hide my belly that I'm pretty sure NO ONE else was noticing. I survived fine, was never asked to wear anything different, and remember the instructor still being able to assist me just fine.
What if you're in the front row? Again, to me, there is no 'front row' in yoga. Ok, technically there is, but you're moving back and forth, up and down, and front to back on your mat so even if you take the back corner of the room, at some point, you'll be in front row. I'm constantly encouraging people to 'find a spot that's not moving on the wall in front of you or someone else's water bottle', in order to achieve balance and steady mind, so people shouldn't be looking at you anyways. Unless you have some nice ink on your back or shoulder... I'll always use a nice tattoo as a staring point. Hey, it's art.
What if you don't know what your're doing? Well, you won't ... because you're new. <insert blank stare, blink blink eyes here> You have to learn to crawl before you walk. And contrary to what every single teenager will tell you, you don't know everything. Instead of being afraid, bask in the wonder of learning something brand new. Bring a childlike wonder with you as you begin to learn yoga. Hell... bring a childlike wonder to EVERYTHING you do! Try it! Delight in the not knowing and learning. Let the teacher show you what they know, and help teach you how to move in a way that will help you in so many more. It's fun. Hard to keep that mentality, but fun. And so worth it.
Did they just look at me weird? Nope. That's in your head. Because you're new and nervous and your brain is just trying to latch onto one single solitary reason to have you run for the hills and never come back. So, breathe into that moment, acknowledge you are nervous, then let try to let that thought slip away and bring your attention back to your breath or back to the teacher if class has already started.
What if you place your mat the wrong way? You won't. Chances are, you timed it so that you saw someone else go into the studio first so you can trail behind them and have someone to visually show you what they've obviously done a million times before, right? Just be careful that someone isn't trailing behind you, thinking the same thing. Remember the golden ticket: "I'm new, can you help me set up?" ... someone else might chime in saying they're new, too. However, if, on the off chance you didn't ask the teacher, and you are the only one, most studios I've been to, you set up your mat perpendicular to how the teacher's mat is set up. And if there's no mat? Breathe. Set yours up, or grab one if you don't have one, and set it down. Someone else might come in that's been to the studio before and you can take your cue from them.
Wear shoes into the studio? No. Again, usually there will be a designated place to take your shoes off and leave them in a cubby to claim later. And NO SOCKS. Please. You might not like your feet, or be super self-conscious of them, but you can slip wearing socks, and then hurt yourself. We're all walking around barefoot. Sand in between your piggies, while welcoming at the beach, is avoided at the studio. If you're in a gym, it's a little more lax, in that you can take off your shoes right next to where you're practicing, or the wall nearby.
Wait a minute... What if you don't have a mat? Studios and gyms generally have mats to use. I've heard in some places you have to pay to rent a mat, but I think that's more in the cities.
Wait a minute, you need blocks? Not building blocks. Foam blocks or cork blocks, again, usually provided by the studio. Straps too. These props aid in raising the floor to you (blocks) or allowing you to grasp a strap when the teacher tells you to interlace your hands behind your spine and your body just doesn't do that. They help with alignment, they are awesome, and no, props do not mean you suck at yoga. Props help. Use them, a lot. If the teacher suggests using a block, try it. You don't have to always do it that same way, but what if using a block will make you feel *that* much better? Think of what you could be missing out on!
What is this, Romper Room? Noooooooo.... although, in some places, there might be spontaneous dance parties or a hip hop song thrown into the middle of the class, or some core work with crunches, or asking you to exhale and make a very loud roar like a lion. Hey, it's yoga. You just never know what you're in for.
I hope I've answered some more questions, as well as maybe quelling any fears you might still have in signing up for a class. If you have more, feel free to reach out to me! Now get out there and practice!
Love, Happiness & Coffee,
~ Heather ~