I think it can be quite daunting for people to walk in to their first yoga class. Fears of being made to bend like a pretzel and chant like a tibetan monk can leave people feeling nervous about venturing towards yoga. So it may help to know exactly what you are walking yourself into.
So the general format of my classes go like this :
We begin with five to ten minutes settling, arriving, slowing down, letting go of the busyness of the day and gently arriving to our own centre. When we have slowed down we check in and meet ourselves as we are in the moment. Often we can run on auto pilot through life. We create our own myth, “I am Trish and I am strong and happy”, and we go forth acting from this myth and not from the core of our being, not from the truest and wisest part of ourselves. When you begin to tune in to your own feelings with acceptance, they become your wisest advisors, they are the light that can navigate your way through life with truth and happiness. The healing in Yoga is how it helps us to integrate all the parts of our being into wholeness. Accepting the light and the shadow…and I digress : ) I shall come back to this in a future post. So in the class we take a moment to really meet ourselves, with kindness, non judgement, and compassion.
We might take time for a breath enquiry here, or work with breathing practices.
Then we move into warm ups for ten or fifteen minutes. Feeling into our bodies, and working in union with our breath. As my teacher Marianne reminded me recently, we must look for the sweetness in the movement. There is sensuous pleasure and life in moving our bodies. Rather then trying to get anything particularly right, I prefer to remind people to play with the movement and find the pleasure in it. Looking for your full expression, in body and breath, steadiness and ease.
Then we move into asana practice. These are the forms of yoga. I try to tailor the classes so that they are accessible to everyone, and all the poses can be modified so that anyone can gain the benefits. So do not be frightened off by this part. Again the heart of the practice is in being with yourself in the moment, opening to yourself, softening, strengthening, witnessing your process with kindness. It is about creating space in yourself. It is about letting go, allowing and opening. It is about coming home to your own body, to your self, and carving a pathway that you can always take to come back to your centre, your true self.
The class will wind down and we will finish with savasana. Lying on the ground, you will be gently guided into deep relaxation. Sometimes I play gentle music, other times I just use my voice. Sometimes I will read a short excerpt or a poem that I have found inspiring. I always try to leave enough time so that this can be experienced slowly, sweetly and deeply.
Then everyone gently comes back to sitting and I end the class with a bow and an intention of wellness and enjoyment for all my students : )