Author and Teacher
Whether you’re just getting started in yoga and attending your first class or you’re a seasoned veteran, maximizing your learning experience is a critical element to any practice. In fact, your expectations of a great teacher should be matched with defining expectations of how you’re going to show up as a student. What can you do to get the most of your time in and out of the studio? After practicing myself for almost 40 years, I’ve come away with several tried and true tips on how you can achieve the best from the time you invest in your practice.
1. Define Your Goals
A critical step most don’t do. Although it will become organic and change over time, it’s still an important part of the process. Yes, you can “simply be” (perfect as you are) and have goals. What I’m professing is engagement, action, and ownership of your practice and this starts with establishing goals. Then, let accountability be your superpower.
Forming habits takes time. Practice delayed gratification and become a habit guru. Why? Because great things take time. I’m talking about showing up in class, on-time and ready to practice. Consistently putting in the work (in and out of the studio) will benefit you in the long-run.
3. Be Comfortable
Shed the expectations of others. Move your mat around, wear comfortable clothing instead of worrying about fashion. Analyze how you’re empowering yourself to get the most out of your studio experience. Are you just checking this off some list or are you expending energy into really learning? Balance comfort with exploring your edge. Growth happens moving past your comfort zone.
4. Know Your Teacher
In my book, I devote almost an entire chapter to this subject. I can’t stress enough the value of sharing your goals, dreams, fears and friendship with a yoga teacher. They thrive when you do. The best teachers point you in the right direction for you to come to your own insights.
5. Practice Safety
Safety is ever more critical now since many classes are extremely fitness oriented. According to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), the number of yoga related injuries treated in emergency rooms has nearly doubled over the last four years. If you’re new, ask the teacher if you are doing poses correctly. Speak up when a teacher asks what people are looking for in class.
6. Focus On Less
Or one thing at a time. Practice concentration. Eliminate mind clutter so that you become proficient. Be observant. Become hyper-sensitive to what is happening in class – how your feel, more than how you think. Self-awareness will translate into great depth of consciousness.
7. Be Positive & Vocal
There is no failure. Immerse yourself in positive energy and people, teachers will respond to you in new ways. If you need extra support, guidance, or love your teacher won’t know unless you tell them. There is no need to suffer in silence. Everyone shows up a little nervous, you’re not alone. It’s a great community to connect and enjoy all the gifts of the practice
8. Be Flexible
Be open to trying new things. If you tried a yoga class and hated it, ask yourself why. What could have been better, and can you capture what you want from a different teacher, class or stud.
9. Leave your Ego At The Door
Smart people ask the most questions. If you remain present, you’ll get more and be open to learning.
The last thing you want is stress in a yoga class – don’t have it and don’t bring it.