Wondering what happens in a Totally You Yoga class? Here are a few tips about what to expect.
When you arrive at Totally You Yoga, you’ll be welcomed by one of the team. The first time you attend, you’ll be asked to fill in a registration form. This is to give us some information about what you hope to get from the class, any health conditions you have and to provide your contact details. Please take this opportunity to let the teacher know if you have any injuries or conditions. It’s important that we keep them in mind while we guide you through the poses.
We try to keep the room silent before class starts, so that people can begin to relax and prepare for the class. Choose one of the mats laid out around the room. You may sit or lie on your mat and start to let the cares of the day go. The teacher will start the class with a brief relaxation and perhaps some breathing exercises, to help focus your mind on your practice. You will be offered a chance to set an intention for the session. Setting an intention is about what you want to be now, in the moment. Your intention might be about patience, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, strength, flexibility etc.
Your teacher will guide you through some gentle warm up asanas (poses). You will then be led through some standing asanas to build strength. General classes include some salutes to the sun, which work all parts of the body and are a bit more strenuous. Normally there will be some asanas to improve your balance, and some to increase flexibility. You’ll be offered different variations on poses, so that if you wish to pursue a stronger practice or get deeper into a pose, you may. During the class, the teacher will move around the class. Your teacher may offer to adjust your position to enhance your experience of the pose. This is not because you are doing something ‘wrong’. It’s to improve your alignment and to help you to avoid injury. Some people prefer not be adjusted. That’s fine; just let your teacher know. At any time, if you’re feeling tired, you are encouraged to take a resting pose, such as child’s pose. It’s important to pace yourself and enjoy your practice.
Restorative classes are slightly different. Your teacher will guide you through some gentle restorative asanas (poses). Bolsters and blocks will be used to support your body in these positions. In a restorative class, only a small number of poses are used, but held for a long period to facilitate deep relaxation. Restorative poses generally include some gentle backbends, forward folds and gentle twists. The emphasis is on being supported, nurtured and refreshed.
Prenatal classes have a different emphasis again. There will be a focus on positions and breathing exercise that may be helpful to you during your labour and birthing. It is especially important to let your teacher know if you have been diagnosed with any of the following: a low lying placenta (placenta praevia), symphysis pubis (where the bones join at the front of the pelvis) problems, an incompetent cervix (a weakened cervix which may increase the risk of miscarriage), if your baby is breech position after 32 weeks, or if you’ve had any bleeding, so that the practice can be adapted for you.
Towards the end of each of the classes the teacher will guide you through some asanas to allow your body to cool down. All classes end in a 5-15 minute savasana. This pose involves lying on your back (or on your side if you are pregnant), with arms and legs relaxed. Your teacher will lead you through a guided meditation. Savasana allows your body to absorb your practice and promotes deep relaxation. Normally, the end of savasana is indicated by the gentle ringing of cymbals 3 times. After this, your teacher will ask you to come to a seated position. You’ll be given an opportunity to recall the intention that you set at the beginning of the class. To mark the end of class, everyone places their palms together in front of their hearts and wish each other ‘namaste’. This salutation can be translated in many different ways, one of which is ‘the light within me, honours the light within you’, and is an opportunity to offer respect to your teacher and fellow students.