The Yogini from Manila

So You Want to Take Yoga?

| 13 Comments

I’m delighted to see more and more of my blogger friends into yoga. Some of them had tried before, stopped and are resuming. Some, out of curiosity, have been trying free yoga classes offered in the metro or are going for trial classes.

If you are also thinking of taking your first yoga class, I have some tips that will ensure that your first experience is not one of pain and trauma but one that will keep you coming again and again.

1. Eat at least 2 hours BEFORE taking a yoga class.

No, it is unpleasant to have someone throw up beside you. Worse if the one who throws up is YOU. So be kind to yourself and to your classmates. Eat sparingly before taking your yoga class and give ample time for digestion (2-3 hours is a rule of thumb). Some poses also massage your organs and if your food is not well digested, you may experience discomfort or cause discomfort to others. Some have been known to pass gas.

2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

My teacher always says to drink lots of water before and after class. Never during. Yoga will make you break out into a sweat. You would want to keep completely hydrated to allow your body to lose water safely when you sweat out the toxins. Drinking water during the class is discouraged because you put out the “fire” that builds up as you go through the yoga poses.

3. Dress appropriately in workout clothes that are snug, comfy and quick-dry.

Yoga asanas will involve some bending down and over. We once had a female classmate who wore a loose tshirt. As expected, the moment we did Downward Dogs, she was clearly exposed. Another time, we had a male classmate whose shorts were pretty tight. When we executed a pose that required stretching, we heard what seemed like a snap coming from him. We feared he had injured his hamstrings, only to find out he ripped his shorts.

For guys, come in a cotton or spandex top with stretchable shorts. For girls, get a spandex or similar material for a top (tip: when trying these out in the mall, bend over and check the mirror if you’re SAFE). Jogging pants or stretch pants will do for the bottom. I have seen some female students come in stretch shorts as well as sports bras but unless the weather is THAT hot, cover up a little bit more. Skimpy wear that shows more skin than clothes can be distracting to everyone.

4. It’s the breath, not the pose.

The breath is ALWAYS more important than how perfectly you can touch your head to your knee or do a pretzel twist. As you go through the yoga motions, stay aware of when to breathe in and out. This is the key to reaping the health benefits of yoga.

5. Enjoy the experience, not compete with your neighbor.

My yoga teacher always reminded us not to compare our progress with our classmates. We do not need to feel intimidated because the one beside us could do a full split while we could barely manage to open up our legs. Or that someone in front did a head-to-knee perfectly while we could hardly touch the ground with our toes. Your body responds differently and will progress differently from everyone else. You may be able to do asanas that others will find difficult getting into. The reverse could likewise be true. It doesn’t matter.

Your teacher will also tell you which poses can be done the easy way. As you progress in yoga, you can then slowly deepen those poses.

6. Be patient and you will see your improvements over time.

If you became inflexible over several decades as a result of a sedentary life or a desk job, one yoga class won’t make you as flexible as rubber. Be patient with your body and allow it to be trained, stretched and made flexible over time. Go only as far as you can (without feeling pain).

When I talk to beginners, I always tell them to benchmark their first lesson: How far could you bend? How wide could you open up? When you twist, how far do you get? And I tell them that by benchmarking, they would be able to see their own body progress over the months. In my case, I could only touch the floor with the tips of my fingers on my first yoga lesson. It took several months of regular practice to get my palms to the floor and eventually palms down beside my feet.

7. For ladies — please, NO MAKEUP! And leave the lotion behind too.

Doing yoga is sweaty stuff. And you will be needing a towel every so often to wipe sweat off your face. Wearing makeup is definitely discouraged unless you want to end the class looking like Charlie Chaplin. I would also suggest NOT applying hand or body lotion prior to doing a class because the lotion in your hands would make you slip and slide on your mat when you get to the downward poses or those requiring you to push up using your hands. Lotion on other parts of the body would likewise make you slip. Lotion also blocks the toxins from coming out freely as it covers the skin pores.

Lastly, just go in with an open mind, listen always to your body, and have a wonderful yoga experience.

Namaste.

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13 Comments

  1. hi! just want to say that your blog is really informative – and entertaining! thank you for sharing. 🙂 i have been doing yoga on and off for years (still very mediocre at it though) but lately i have been thinking of doing it regularly (after 2 kids, who wouldn’t want to?) problem is there is no decent, dedicated yoga studio in davao (where my family is based). most of the gyms i frequent are not really yoga-friendly 🙁 it’s sad how there’s tons of amazing studios in manila but here can’t seem to find one.

    • Wow thank you, Belinda. I hope to continue making it as informative and entertaining as possible for all my readers. Love and light…

  2. Have you tried Bikram? Ive been wanting to enroll in Bikram but I’ve read in so many posts that bikram is contraindicated for hypertensives like me. Whats your take on this?

    • Hi Liza. No, I haven’t tried Bikram and probably never will. It’s a personal choice at this stage of my life. I find yin yoga and vinyasa the perfect yin-yang combination for me. A hypertensive like you should always consult a doctor before tackling a very active (and hot) yoga style. I cannot say for sure if it is totally contraindicated for all hypertensives. But if you are just about to start your yoga journey, I would highly recommend you begin with YIN YOGA. It is not intimidating to beginners as it is a quiet kind of practice. And it works best to bring back your flexibility – the one thing that prevents many beginners from even trying yoga because they think they are not flexible enough. Yin yoga, now that I’ve tried it, is the perfect introduction to yoga.

  3. Hi! I am 18 and stressed out due to academic pressure which is why I want to try yoga – to have a peace of mind. The problem is, I don’t know what yoga studio would best suit me. I have been searching on the internet, but afraid that I might pick the wrong one. Can you please help me out on this one? 🙁

    • Hello Jolene,

      First of all, thank you so much for writing to me. Surely yoga will be able to help you deal with pressures, academic and otherwise. Your question, however, is difficult to answer because the “right” type of yoga or the “right” yoga studio is really dependent on the individual’s preferences. Also, the geographic location of the studio will be a factor since you may probably want one close to your home. I suggest you start with a yoga studio listed on my blog that is convenient to you and choose a class for beginners. Just pay the walk-in fee first (rates are almost always posted on the studio’s website) so you have flexibility to move to other studios till you find the one where you feel most comfortable. The benefits of yoga, even if it is only a basic class, will teach you to focus on your breath, which is very important in dealing with external stressors.

      I wish you positivity and hope you find the yoga studio just for you. Love and light…

      Jane

      • Thank you for taking time to read my comment. I tried looking for yoga studios that are easily accessible to me. Also the rates are quite reasonable for me. Is Ananda Marga a good one? I cant find any reviews about this yoga center, and I’m curious about this one.

        • I don’t have personal experience with Ananda Marga but a good friend was a former student of theirs and she says it is okay there. In fact their rates are lower than those of yoga studios. However, expect that at times, they may inject their philosophy and life beliefs into the yoga class. If you do not mind listening at times to those kinds of talks, then go ahead and try them out.

  4. Just started practicing yoga last January. Whether I have the “right” reasons on why I started practicing yoga, I have no idea. What I’m sure though is I’m not flexible, my balance sucks, and I have weight issues. True, I’m hoping Yoga can help me in solving my “weight issues” but whether it will or not, I have no idea. To be honest, I am enjoying this yoga journey. I know it’s too early to say but yes, I am enjoying. My friends have doubts on me actually ’cause they think Yoga’s too boring to be “enjoyable” but I’ve managed not to hear out what they say. I may not be able to do all asanas perfectly but I am hoping that one day, I will. I am not a patient person, which is one more reason why gave in to Yoga, but I am trying my best to be one. 🙂

    “Be patient and you will see your improvements over time” – I hope so. 🙂

    • Hi Anne! Thank you for writing!

      I’m of the view that everything happens for a reason and your being brought to yoga is no different. All your issues make you perfect for yoga. Flexibility and balance come back to you in time. Your body and muscles just sort of forgot them and locked up due to years of sitting, stress and neglect. I’m glad you’re enjoying your journey. Just continue living in the moment. I am sure, in time, you will see the difference not just in your body which will be able to do more than what it can do now. You will be able to focus, be still and handle stress better. That’s something to look forward to! Love and light…

  5. please notify me and the studios that offer low cost…im from makati and wanted to practice yoga eversince…thank you…

    @Vhee – The list of yoga studios and their locations/websites, based on my current knowledge, are listed under “Studios” on this blog. But you’d have to call the studios for the rates.

  6. please notify me with your upcoming yoga session.thank you.

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