Yoga is a journey, and our journey must begin somewhere. Although we all begin our yoga practice at different levels, both physically and mentally, it is fundamental to build a solid foundation for our yogic practice. This means taking yoga classes for beginners, yoga classes that provide extensive instructions on the purpose of yoga poses, that present yoga history and philosophy, and that explain the various kinds of yoga.
Many of us, when we typically think of yoga, we think of hatha yoga, which is the integration of physical postures, asanas, with breathwork and meditation. We must build upon this foundation, through physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual means, to evolve and grow our yoga practice. Thus, it is important that we find a yoga studio that offers hatha yoga classes for beginners that incorporates all aspects of the yoga practice, from its history and philosophy to asana modifications and variations.
I want to recommend four things to look for in a hatha yoga class for beginners:
1) Is there an integration of yoga history and philosophy within the yoga practice? The practice of yoga is more than the flow between the physical poses. It is a practice that is deeply rooted in history and philosophy, and learning about its history and philosophy is just as crucial to the practice as the asanas themselves. Thus, when looking for a hatha yoga class, it is important to observe the integration of philosophy and physicality.
2) Does the yoga teacher clearly instruct transitions between poses? It is important that instructions are clear and that the teacher be aware of the purpose of a pose in order to support a strong and safe physical practice and to limit the potential for injury. As such, it is essential that the yoga teacher instructs his or her students on safe transitions between yoga poses, as well as how to correctly move the body within a pose. This is critical in yoga classes for beginners, as these students are just beginning their yogic journey. Learning the correct ways in which to move their bodies creates a solid foundation for ongoing yogic practice to grow upon.
3) Does the instructor offer options for more advanced yoga poses? Pose options are imperative to any hatha yoga class. We need to be aware of the fact that every individual is at a different mental and physical stage within their yoga practice. Thus, offering a variety of options for poses is essential. Options allow individuals to safely and timely build upon their yoga poses, as well as work to prevent injury.
4) Does the yoga teacher provide alignment cues and variations? As mentioned, with the yoga practice’s partial foundation in physicality, (asana) there is potential for injury if individuals are not instructed on correct alignment cues. Thus, it is critical that teachers provide quality alignment cues, as well as variations for individuals at all different stages of their yogic journey.
We need to continue to nurture, evolve, and deepen our knowledge of the yogic practice, as yoga is a way of life. It is a lifelong learning process. We must all begin somewhere along that journey, but it is crucial that we begin that journey with a solid foundation. We must start with yoga classes for beginners that offer an integrated practice of yoga history and philosophy, clear instructions, physical modifications, and alignment cues. Once we have that foundation, we can healthily build on our practice, transforming and growing our emotional, psychological, physical, and spiritual selves.
Our yogic practice takes time, a lifetime. Let yourself get lost while you’re on your mat, enjoying the journey. With every pose and with every breath you take on the mat, you are allowing yourself to soften, expand, and open up to new possibilities. Always remember, that whatever happens on the mat can be translated off of the mat. Allow yoga to become your way of life!