"Those who have displaced the mountain began by removing small stones" Chinese Proverb
Any regular Hatha Yoga class will consist of the practice of Asanas or postures, emphasis on breathing, final relaxation and perhaps some chanting, mantra or guided meditation. Once you have decided which style you want to practice and where to go, take into account the following recommendations:
1- Wear comfortable clothes. Have bare food or wear anti-slip socks at least during the first part of the class until you get to the postures sitting or lying down. It is also advisable to bring a jacket or socks to keep you warm during the final relaxation or Savasana, when the temperature of the body descends.
2- Be punctual and try to be at least 5 minutes before the class starts, so that you have time to change your clothes, put the yoga mat and yoga instruments, go to the bathroom, turn off your phone and, in general, be present when the experience begins. Your punctuality will help to create an atmosphere of respect between you, the teacher and other practitioners.
3- It is advisable to practice with empty stomach. After a strong meal we should wait about 3 or 4 hours before starting the practice. After a snack or something light (a cookie, a fruit or a yogurt) is good to wait at least 30 minutes. With regard to hydration, it is better to drink before or after the practice and not during the class. Chewing gum is totally contraindicated.
4- Throughout the practice, breathe through the nose, this will filter and warm the air before it reaches the lungs. Any other change in the way of breathing, how to breathe or expire through the mouth for example, will be part of some Pranayama exercise (controlled breathing) and this should be explained and pointed out by the teacher.
5- It is vitally important that you inform the teacher about any special physical condition. Being pregnant, suffering from high blood pressure, having problems in the knees or other joints, suffering from herniated discs or other condition in the spine, having recently undergone surgery, fibromyalgia, etc ... are compelling reasons to approach the teacher at the beginning of the class and communicate it. He should advise you and suggest alternative positions in case the scheduled program is not the most recommended for you.
6- During menstruation, full invertions should be avoided and twisting and back bending should be practiced gently. A soft practice is recommended, which includes forward bending with support and restorative postures.
7- A yoga class is a space-time of work with your inner being, with your body, mind and emotions. It is natural that we are invaded by multiple and intense sensations and that we feel disadvantaged when a physical posture challenges us in a special way, having the temptation to leave class. However, remember that it starts to get easier as it gets closer to the final. It is very frequent in the first class to have the sensation of "not understanding anything" and therefore I usually recommend that beginners try at least 3 times.
8- In one hand, be a bit self-demanding, so that you leave your comfort zone and go beyond your usual limits in each class and in every position, but on the other hand always be very respectful with your body and if you feel "special" or "bad" pain, in the joints or in some other place, different than the "natural" pain that occurs when we stretch the muscles, do not hesitate to stop and warn the teacher.
And remember: don't judge your self or your practice by how much you can stretch your body or how far you can go, or how much you can maintain a position. The objective is to take it to new places or to make it execute positions that it does not do regularly, but the level is always personal. Each of the Yoga postures can be practiced at different levels, from the most basic to the most advanced and you can choose the one that best suits you, with honesty and responsibility. Also do not try an advanced position at home without the supervision of a teacher and without being sure of its correct alignment, execution, etc ...
Do not compare yourself with the person next to you or with the teacher. Yoga is not a competition. On the contrary, it is an extremely intimate path and the competition is only with ourselves, with our own limitations.
Compassion, and, especially, compassion towards ourselves is a fundamental aspect to develop in our practice.
Enjoy your class! See you in the next post :)