Hey Newbie! Yay, You! 14 Tips for New Yogis

So you've decided to treat yourself to some radical relaxation and rejuvenation. Yay, You!

Whether  you're new to yoga, or just new to me, thank you for gracing my teaching with your presence. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of our sessions together:

1. Wear comfy clothes. 

I've said it before, and I'll say it here: I don't care if you wear fancy pants. For asana practice, in particular, it is helpful to wear clothes in which you can breathe and move comfortably, but really, you can practice yoga whenever, wherever, wearing whatever—from birthday suit to business suit. Of course, when you’re practicing with me, I ask that you keep your private bits private, but otherwise, wear whatever you like. Fancy pants optional

2. Show up on time. 

Each session is designed as a sequenced flow that supports your optimal health and safety during practice. The asanas in a sequence build on each other, so entering the sequence late is less beneficial for you, as well as disruptive to others when sharing sessions. If you do arrive late, tiptoe in, warm-up as needed, and join the flow of the session as soon as you can comfortably do so. If you're going to be more than 15 minutes late, it's generally best to forego the session rather than disrupt the flow of the session in progress. 

3. Remove your shoes and socks (unless you practice with yoga socks) at the door.

Asanas involve getting up close and personal with the floor (mat on the floor), so removing shoes upon entering helps keep the space clean. Moreover, practicing barefoot not only reduces the likelihood of slipping and falling, but also more readily massages and stimulates the hundreds of meridian points on your feet. If you're not especially fond of the way your feet look and feel self-conscious, rest assured that you're in good company and treat this as an opportunity for self-accepting pedi-compassion.  

4. B.Y.O.M. Bring your own mat. 

I have some mats available for those of you without mats, but ideally, invest in your own mat. Having your own mat makes it much more likely that you will practice beyond your sessions with me. The more you practice, the greater the benefits, so support your practice with a mat of your own.

5. Turn your electronics off.

As I have written elsewhere, technology, for all its lauded benefits, has left our sacred, quiet, and private spaces more vulnerable to intrusion. It is increasingly difficult to truly get away from it all, disentangling ourselves from the technological tentacles of contemporary life. Protect your ability (and that of others) to relax and focus attention inward without disruption and intrusion by preserving restful space and unrushed time free of phones, texts, and email. 

6. Keep your cooties to yourself. 

When you're ill, yoga often hastens the healing process, but if you're contagious, skip shared sessions, and practice at home. Although exposure to germs and regular yoga practice strengthens our immune systems, most of us generally prefer to strengthen our immune systems without contracting illnesses, so please don't expose others to sickness unnecessarily.

7. Ease into asanas. 

Be kind and gentle to yourself in every pose. Breathe long, deep breaths through the nose. Pay attention to how the pose feels rather than simply how it looks, challenging yourself without straining. 

8. When in pain, abstain. 

When in doubt, sit it out. If it hurts, don't do it. Ask for help modifying a pose or skip it if a comfortable modification isn't readily available to you. Rest in Child's Pose or Mountain Pose as needed.

9. Practice on a comfortably empty belly.

If you can, refrain from eating for at least a few hours before a session. Practicing asanas with a full stomach sometimes induces cramps, nausea, or gas, especially in twists, forward bends, and inversions. Ideally, practice two to three hours after a moderate or light meal.

10. Hold the H2O until after the session.  

Since asana practice is generally not a workout requiring frequent hydration, drinking water during a session is usually unhelpful as it cools and dilutes the beneficial inner heat (tapas) that aids in detoxification and energy channel (nadi) clearing. 

11. Go ahead and fart. 

Yeah, I know, we're not supposed to talk about it, but it happens. Ideally, you won't, but if you must, do. If you are aware of the need before it happens, skip to the loo and save us all from the Eau de Ewwww. However, if you happen to pass gas unexpectedly, just remember it's natural, and we'll survive (empathetically happy that it was you and not us).

12. Use the loo as needed. 

If you need to go, go. If you can wait for a resting pose like Child's Pose, Down Dog, or Pidgeon, it's often less disruptive during shared sessions, but please feel free to take care of your needs as needed.

13. Stay for savasana. 

In a culture that glorifies being busy, laying back doing nothing, or rather reposing for 5 to 15 minutes, can be especially challenging. Yet, deep relaxation is essential for health and well-being, so resist the urge to skip savasana. This resting pose helps fully integrate the benefits of your practice session, rebalancing your nervous system, slowing your heart-rate and deepening your breathing, as well as offering you time to simply relieve your mind of unnecessary busy-ness. If you must leave early, please let me know at the beginning of the session, and rest in savasana a few minutes before you leave. 

14. Celebrate! 

When you practice yoga, you're doing something wonderful for your luminous, splendiferous self. Yay, You! 

Let's be luminous together!