This month, two ALIVE staffers are taking a journey into the world of yoga, through the Y6 Ignite program at Yoga Six. The program is designed for people who are either totally new to yoga, or have been away from their practice for a while. Class meets twice a week for three weeks, teaching the basics of yoga from the ground up and exploring different techniques—the idea is that at the end of the program, we’ll feel at home in any yoga class…stretch or flow, hot or not.
I, ALIVE Associate Editor Gwen Ragno, fall into the second category—I’ve practiced yoga regularly in the past, but it’s been quite a while since my last class and my downward dog just isn’t what it used to be. I’ll be blogging about my experience going through the program, reporting on what I’ve learned and how I’m finding myself adjust back into flow of things. Joining me is ALIVE Account Executive Molly Ross—she’s training for the GO! St. Louis half-marathon in April and adopting yoga as the “strengthening and lengthening” element of her regimen. Our instructor is Ashely Mastandrea—she’ll be sticking with us throughout the program so we’ll have consistent leadership from start to finish.
We had our first class on Monday, and I’ll confess that I found myself a little unprepared. So, to help you out when you venture into your first yoga class, here are some things to remember:
1. Yoga Mat. If you have one, bring it. If not, most studios have one you can rent ($2 at Yoga Six)—however, if you’re planning on developing a regular yoga practice, it’s a smart investment and usually not too expensive.
2. Water Bottle. You may think, “Hey, we’re basically just stretching for an hour, so how exerting could it be?” True enough, I was fine after the first Ignite class, but judging by the look of the gals leaving the class before us, that water becomes essential once the intensity kicks up a few levels.
3. Dress Appropriately. Of course you should wear comfortable clothes that you can move in. However, there are a couple of things that I didn’t immediately consider that caused a little discomfort in my first class. First: leave the jewelry at home—that necklace you wear so constantly that you don’t even think about it suddenly becomes quite distracting when it’s dangling around the bridge of your nose in a forward fold. Second: ponytails are great for running, but don’t work so when when you’re trying to zen out in corpse pose—opt for a low pony or braid instead.
The first Ignite class was focused mostly on learning the basic yoga poses and the different ways we might move into them. Ashley was constantly asking rhetorical questions to teach us to constantly be checking in with our bodies and listening to what they tell us. My body was telling me to take it easy this time and not try very many of the deeper stretch modifications Ashley offered—but that’s okay. After sitting at a desk all day every day for so long, it’s to be expected. The main thing to remember in yoga, as Ashley put it, is that your body is different every single day, whether you’ve been practicing for years or a week.
On Thursday, we’ll be focusing on our breathing, and learning how to coordinate the flow of our movements with the flow of our breath. I found myself more than once in that first class holding my breath waiting for her to announce what to do next, so it will be a much-needed lesson for me.
Until next week, Namaste!