Beginners at Sylvia’s Yoga

They say the world is full of two kinds of people. The people who do yoga and the people who think they are going to start a yoga practice soon. If you are the latter, fear not! I will talk you through that initial first experience so you can easily find yourself in the former group... the people who do yoga. Yogis. It’s easy to become one, all you have to do is do yoga. The definition of a yogi is someone who does yoga. Intent and commitment are all that’s required!

All of my yoga classes are mixed ability. Typically at one of my classes you will find someone new to yoga, someone who is doing yoga a little while and ‘getting it’, someone who is doing yoga a long time and still learning, someone who is just back to yoga after a break. Old and young, male and female, with injury and without injury, a cross-section of humanity. Yoga is for everyone. Rule number one is ‘it’s not a competition’.

As newcomers to yoga we often compare ourselves to others. We can feel inadequate and feel that we are somehow not ‘doing it right’ or ‘not good enough’. Don’t worry, that’s normal, we all feel that. So step one is nice and easy, there is no judge. You are just fine the way you are and nobody’s looking at you anyway. Don’t criticise yourself (or others), do your best, and don’t worry about how you look. Really, I mean it, nobody cares. You can come to my classes in your oldest, comfiest t-shirt if you want.

There are many options available to you as a newcomer to yoga. Some do a specific ‘Yoga for Beginners’ course or a beginner’s workshop. Google search your nearest studio for further information. Being a Yoga Hub teacher I will always recommend the Yoga Hub teachers (because I know them and love them!), however, Dublin is full of amazing teachers so I highly recommend finding a teacher that suits you time-wise and location-wise. Keep it as easy as possible on yourself.

Many, if not most, newcomers to yoga just go for it and just join in on a class. If you have no injuries or limitations (e.g. high blood pressure, a recovering injury, a pregnancy currently or in the recent past) this is fine. Just dive in. Accept that you won’t do it perfectly straight away; go with an open mind. If you have a limitation or an injury get your doctor’s approval first and then chat to your teacher about whether or not the class would be suitable for you. Often, with a little bit of common sense, it will be.

Yoga is union. Union of breath and moment, union of mind and body, union of effort and surrender. Your first class might be different to what you expect. It will possibly be harder (I teach people to be strong) and more relaxing (we meditate from the moment you take your first breath) than you have ever experienced. Learning more about ourselves and what makes us tick is one of the many benefits of a yoga practice. It’s slow, it’s subtle but it’s profound.

Wear loose comfortable clothing. Yoga is done barefoot. Don’t worry if you don’t have perfect feet, nobody will care … see rule number one above!

Take is easy and listen to your body. The teacher is like the waiter at a huge buffet, showing you the table full of choices. You are the discerning customer, choosing what suits you. Listen to your body. Listen to your breath. If it feels wrong or too hard, don’t push it. If you are gasping for breath, slow down. Staying in touch with the breath is what we, as yogis, do. But don’t worry if you don’t ‘get’ the breath straight away, just move and follow the class and the breath will come. Simply listen without trying too hard. It will just happen. And when it does, it feels great. Above all else, as you move through your yoga practice, it should feel good. With practice and consistent effort your entire yoga practice will become a moving meditation.

Typically we will move slowly to start, combining breath and movement. Then we might flow through some sun salutations and standing poses and you may find your transitions between poses are slow and awkward the first time, that’s normal. With time you will flow with ease and grace and fluidity, even if you aren’t doing everything perfectly. Towards the latter end of the class we might explore a peak pose, an advanced yoga pose. You can try it, you can watch, you can go a few stages into it; you will be given instructions and guidance on what to do at any given moment. Have fun, be adventurous and playful if you feel like it, but above all else use common sense and keep yourself safe.

Finally we relax; usually for about 5 minutes. Often the relief that the class is over is enough to enable you to take a deep sigh and lie down and just rest. If not I will guide you on where to take your thoughts as your body relaxes more and more with each exhale. Sometimes during the relaxation phase a teacher may talk you through a longer guided relaxation practice. Sometimes there might be music, sometimes silence. Often newcomers find this part of the practice difficult; typically I find my students have put enough effort into the physical aspect of the practice they are grateful to sink down and rest.

If you have any questions. observations or feedback please do chat to the teacher after class. Every teacher has a few minutes spare at the beginning and the end of each class. Always feel free to e mail if a longer or more private conversation is required. Teachers love feedback, requests and questions. As teachers we are always students too, always curious, always learning, always looking for better ways to serve.

Please feel free to drop me an email here. Or just come along to a class. Some of my courses are full and have a waiting list so if you’re not sure please check first. Classes, workshops and yoga retreats in beautiful locations are detailed on my website and announced on my Facebook page, Sylvia’s yoga

I’m looking forward to seeing you soon on the mat. Imperfect and simply showing up. Just like me!

“When I am in the place in me where I am truly me, and you are in the place in you where you are truly you, there is only one of us.”

Sylvia Ferguson