To yoga newbies, a yoga class is an awkward combination of not falling asleep when you are supposed to “meditate”, feeling uncomfortable with everyone closing their eyes and losing your balance when attempting a position.
Yoga, though seemingly intimidating, is an amazing practice. It’s the best way to de-stress before and after your midterms, and to stretch out your poor calf muscles after venturing up and down the Hill. Whether you can gather up the courage to join a yoga class at the John Wooden Center or are content with following a YouTube video in your dorm, here are some tips for the aspiring yogis out there.
1. Body-hugging clothes are essential
I know this may come as a surprise, but “yoga pants” are not strictly worn on days when you’re too lazy to wear real pants. You should wear them to yoga too! Tight-fitting tops are also essential, especially when you’re upside down or twisted over in a pose and don’t want to be distracted by any accidental skin exposure.
2. Yes, it’s normal to close your eyes during class
When meditating at the beginning and end of class, it is encouraged to close your eyes. It allows you to focus on your body and how you feel, and to prevent you from accidentally staring at some girl’s super cute Nikes across the room.
3. Know some basic poses
Every yoga instructor explains the positions and varying difficulty options throughout class, so don’t worry about being clueless on the differences between the “child’s pose” and the “happy baby pose”. However, knowing the basics on the most common poses can give you some extra confidence when class begins. Here are some basics:
- The Child’s Pose: Starting on your hands and knees, push back with your arms, bringing your butt to the mat with your knees spread further apart. Your arms should be stretched out and long, and forehead to the mat. If you ever feel uncomfortable or have pain during class, use this pose as a resting point!
- Downward-facing Dog Pose: Start on your hands and knees, and slowly push up your arms while bringing your butt up to the sky. Try to push away from the ground using your arms, instead of resting all of your weight on your legs. Downward Facing Dog is most used as a starting position for other poses.
- Cat-Cow Pose: On your hands and knees, inhale as you push your stomach towards the mat, and exhale as your arch your back up like a cat. This one is a very common warm up pose, and allows you to stretch out your neck and spine,and focus on your breathing.
4. Take your shoes off
It may feel uncomfortable at first, but make sure you remove your shoes before you get on your mat. Being barefoot allows you to connect more with your body, get better traction on the mat and stops the dirt from the bottom of your shoes from getting all over the place (believe me, dirt isn’t something you want stuck on your forehead after “child’s pose”).
5. Be open-minded
Yoga can be very spiritual and has a great influence on your emotions and awareness. Though you may be weary at first, just allow yourself to become a part of the experience. Even if you feel awkward, try to adapt and respect the effort of everyone around you. Yoga may not be for everyone, but everyone can take a lesson and apply it to their lives in their own way. Just remember to be patient, observant, and nonjudgmental!