FIRST TIME TO YOGA? WHAT CLASS SHOULD I ATTEND?

To get a good idea of level of class difficulty please visit our class description page. Our Foundations and Slow Flow classes are the perfect yoga for beginners: a slower class – but still strong – where you’ll learn alignment techniques and get useful tips on how to practice and what to expect in the future. At first it may seem challenging or hard. For sure, the physical postures will be difficult. You may be aching for days (even if you thought you were in good shape before starting) because you’re using muscles you’ve never “exercised” before. You might want to throw the towel in, but you’ve got to be SUPER patient. Give the practice time to work its magic. You’ll be doing yourself a huge disservice if you only go five times and think it isn’t working. If you're serious about growing, you've got to give it a regular schedule. Why not try our Loving Kindness class as an introduction?

Tips for beginners

Do your best to stay for the entire duration.
Learn by watching and listening to the teacher and to your body.
If you need to rest, it's okay. Listen to your body and take a rest.
Should you feel dizzy or out of breath at any point, take a deep breathe, sit down, and relax.
Be patient. It usually takes about ten classes before you get into the flow of the class.

All classes in blue on the timetable page are also very suited to new students.

FIND A TEACHER WHO SPEAKS YOUR LANGUAGE

For your first week or two visit a variety of classes with a handful of different teachers. Give yourself a chance to see what’s out there, and understand that each teacher brings a unique voice and perspective to how they convey and motivate you! After you find your “favorite,” you can move into the next step.

WE WELCOME QUESTIONS

If you think you’re doing something wrong and are not sure, ask your teacher. Don’t spend months doubting yourself, but find out early the proper ways to do things. This will proactively help prevent injuries from occurring in the future and it will also help build community, if you take the time to get to know your fellow students and learn from their experiences, too.

WHAT DO I NEED TO BRING?

An open mind, courageous attitude and a smile!
A towel.
A bottle of water.
A mat if you have one, otherwise we have mats available for use free of charge.

WHAT DO I WEAR?

Comfortable clothing that you can move and sweat in.
Fitted, active gym gear, i.e. tights or shorts and a singlet.
We practice in bare feet so please leave shoes at the studio entrance.

YOGA ROOM ETIQUETTE

Only bring yourself, your mat, your towel and your water into the room.
Position your mat in the middle of the room so there are students all around to help guide you if you get lost.
Grab a block and a strap: you can borrow these for free in all our studios.
Respect your body: work within your limits and rest whenever you need.

CAN I DO YOGA WHEN I’M PREGNANT?

For the most part, if a student had a regular asana practice pre-pregnancy, you can continue to practice in the way you are accustomed to as long as you feels comfortable doing so.

While there are certainly some general guidelines to adhere to, modifying a practice for pregnancy isn’t about enforcing a rigid list of do’s and don’ts.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I PRACTISE?

You can practice as often as you like, just remember to listen to your body. Some committed students practice 5-6 times per week, however the intensity will vary to suit the needs of their body on the day.  Slowing down and listening to your body’s intuition is part of the yoga journey. If you’re cross-training with other sports then 2-3 times a week would likely be of great benefit.

BASIC GUIDELINES FOR PREGNANCY

Here’s a (non-exhaustive) run-down of some basic principles and guidelines that you can look to in order to make a general (i.e., non-prenatal) asana class pregnancy-friendly:

1. Make Space for Baby

As pregnancy progresses, many asanas (in their classical forms, anyway) can start to feel restrictive and uncomfortable. Solution? Think “make space for baby” when you offer pose variations and alternatives. Avoid or modify poses that compress the belly. This might mean that you offer a prop or two (like blocks under hands in a standing forward bend or lunge), present spinal extensions as forward-bend alternatives (such as dandasana, or staff pose, in place of a seated forward bend), or suggest a wider stance.

2. Avoid or modify poses that compress the belly

It also means that pregnant students should avoid lying on their bellies (especially after the first trimester). In place of belly backbends like bhujangasana (cobra) or shalabhasana (locust), offer similar-ish poses that can be done on all fours, like cow or opposite arm/leg extensions.

3. Avoid Compressive “closed” twists—i.e., twisting toward the front leg side (in an asymmetrical standing twist like a lunge), or the bent leg side (in a seated twist like ardha matsyendrasana)—should be avoided for the same reason. Do “open twists” instead. This basically means “twist in the direction opposite to that of everyone else.” Pregnant students should also focus on opening up through the chest as they twist, not twisting from the belly.

4. Avoid Overstretching

During pregnancy, the hormone relaxin increases flexibility (the name itself is a bit of a giveaway!) and helps to prepare the body for birth. Because this influx of relaxin causes the ligaments to become more lax, pregnant students should take extra care not to overstretch. This can lead to pelvic and joint instability and/or pulled ligaments (which take a really long time to heal). To avoid overstretching, students should focus on strength and stability more than flexibility during pregnancy. This is especially important to keep in mind when it comes to hands-on adjustments. To avoid overstretching, students should focus on strength and stability more than flexibility during pregnancy.

5.. What’s the Deal with Inversions, Anyway?

In general, if inversions feel good, students can continue to practice them, but it is a good idea to avoid inverting near the end of the first and beginning of the second trimester (weeks 10-13), when the placenta is attaching to the uterine wall. Pregnant students should also avoid inverting for long periods of time (stick with 30 seconds or less). If you’re teaching long holds in inversions, a supported bridge pose (with a yoga block under the sacrum) with feet on the floor or legs in the air, is a great pregnancy-friendly alternative for most students.

6. Cut Out Kumbhaka

Pranayama practices involving breath retention (kumbhaka) should be avoided during pregnancy (as should powerful practices like bhastrika and kapalabhati). Remind pregnant students to breathe smoothly, evenly, and continuously, and suggest nadi shodhanam (alternate nostril breathing) or bhramari (bumble bee breath)—which are both wonderful to practice all through pregnancy—as alternatives to pranayamas that are contraindicated.

7. Avoid Lying on the Back If It’s No Longer Comfortable (or If You’re Not Sure)

Look at any “one-size-fits-all” list of pregnancy modifications for yoga, and you’ll likely see “avoid lying flat on the back.” This can be perplexing for students if lying supine still feels quite lovely.

8. Is it really dangerous for pregnant students to practice a traditional shavasana (corpse pose), or supine stretch?

The answer (of course!) is “it depends.” The reason why this caution is often given is that as baby continues to grow, lying flat on the back for an extended period of time can compress the inferior vena cava (an important vein which returns deoxygenated blood from the lower body back to the heart). When this happens, it tends to be pretty uncomfortable, and its likely that you will not want to remain on her back (which you shouldn’t).

9. Bottom line Listen to your body. Adjust your body and change positions if you start to feel nauseous, dizzy, or uncomfortable.

If a student is no longer comfortable lying flat on her back, she can practice a side-lying shavasana or a propped “incline” shavasana instead. For the side-lying variation, students should lie on their left sides (since the vena cava is on the right side of the body). A block, bolster, blanket, or pillow between the knees may help make this position more comfortable, and resting the head on a pillow or folded blanket, hugging a pillow bolster, or covering up with a blanket are other ways that you can make side-lying shavasana extra cozy and supportive.

For the incline variation, elevate the far end of a bolster with a yoga block or two, so that when a student lies over the bolster (with her bottom on the floor and her back on the bolster) her head is above her heart). A second bolster or rolled blanket under the knees can feel especially nice here, and may help to relieve lower back discomfort.

WHAT IS MY UJJAYI BREATH?

Ujjayi breath is sometimes called ‘the ocean breath’ or ‘oceanic breathing’.

It’s a controlled, diaphragmatic breath that’s achieved by gently tightening the muscles in your throat and breathing in and out through your nose, mouth closed. When you’re doing it correctly, you’ll hear a whispering, ocean-like sound and may feel a slight vibration in the back of your throat. Allow your chest to expand and deflate with each slow inhale and exhale.

We encourage students to breathe this way throughout class. It can be challenging and may take some time to master but helps bring your focus back to the breath when your mind wanders. It’s also an excellent barometer of how hard you’re working: if you’re pushing yourself too hard then you won’t be able to maintain the Ujjayi breath, so lessen the intensity of your practice until you can. Alternatively, if you keep losing focus on the breath, could you up your pace?

Ujjayi breath is a great way to stay connected to your practice, helping anchor you into the present moment. It’s also a great way of building the vital energy in the body and can turn your practice into a yoga meditation.