Attending Yoga Classes

Every teacher has their own unique way of teaching a class, but there are things you can do as a student to prepare for and get the most out of a Yoga class, no matter who is teaching you.

Tips for before class:

  • Get to class with time to spare (say, fifteen minutes before starting time) so that you're not rushing.

  • Once you've set up, spend the time in any position that's comfortable to you - either lying down or sitting up - with your eyes closed.

  • Focus on your breath. Breathe in and out softly through the nose, gently lengthening the breath.

  • Notice the rise and fall of the chest and belly as you breathe.

  • Forget the the day that's been, forget the day that's coming. Create a space between the rest of the day and that moment in time so that it's just you and your breath, here and now.

  • As you breathe, you might want to scan through your body, notice any areas of pain or discomfort, and completely release the tension from that area with every exhale.

  • You can also breathe using a mantra. One simple mantra to remember is "Let go". Inhale "let", exhale "go". Or you could inhale "hope" and exhale "peace". Use any words which you find relaxing and calming.

Tips for during asana (the physical postures):

  • Dedicate the efforts of your Yoga practice to all the human beings and animal beings in the world who are suffering.

  • Keep your focus on your breath the entire time - rather than allowing it to wander off to thinking random thoughts (eg. "This is easy, "This is difficult", "I like this teacher", "I don't like this teacher", etc, etc).

  • Strive to put in your best effort, yet at the same time know your limitations, and always rest when you need to.

  • Avoid comparing yourself to anyone else in the class - or even to yourself in previous classes.

  • Accept your body for its capabilities and restrictions on that particular day - not what it could or couldn't do last week or last year.

  • Always aim to improve, but recognise when you're not ready to advance.

Tips for relaxation (Savasana or Corpse Pose):

  • The idea is to lie on your back without any props, but if you have neck or back pain put a blanket under your head and/or a bolster under your knees.
  • An eye pillow over your eyes aids relaxation and helps to internalise the experience.
  • Make a commitment to be still for the duration of Savasana. (That means no fidgetting, scratching, or wriggling for any reason.)
  • Allow the breath to be completely natural.
  • Allow the mind to settle on the breath. When the mind wanders (which it inevitably will - that's what our minds do!), patiently take it back to the breath.
  • Allow your body to yield to and be totally supported by Mother Earth.

  • Aim to cultivate a sense of ease, peace, softness, stillness, healing, restoration, letting go, relaxation, and surrender.

Tips for meditation:

  • Sit in a comfortable position with a straight spine. If you're particularly tired, you can sit with your back up against a wall.
  • Once you're comfortable, create a conscious intention to meditate.
  • Command your mind to be quiet.
  • Forget the past and future. Be in the present moment by focussing on the breath.
  • Remember that the nature of the mind is such that it will persist in wandering even though you're trying to keep it focussed on the breath. Allow the random thoughts that interfere in your concentration to come and go. Observe them - allow them to arrive, witness them, and then let them dissolve or float away without engaging in them or becoming frustrated or annoyed at yourself for losing focus (it happens to ALL of us!).
  • Don’t judge yourself for not being able to keep focus - this is all part of the process of meditation and is true for everyone who meditates, whether they're beginners or experienced practitioners.

Tips for after class:

  • Take a moment at the end of the class to thank yourself for doing something good for your body and mind by practising Yoga that day.

  • Make a promise to yourself to take the feeling of relaxation and ease you have gained by practising Yoga out into the world with you - because it's off the mat where the effects of the Yoga you do on the mat are actually most important.

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Quick Mediations For Workaholics
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Adopt a homeless animal instead - they all deserve a second chance

It's estimated that 130,000 dogs and 60,000 cats are killed every year in Australia because there are not enough homes for them all. And the global numbers amount to millions upon millions every single year.

Puppy mills are a major contributor to the terrible problem of overpopulation. Puppy mills are essentially 'dog factories' where dogs are forced to churn out litter after litter, with no thought for the welfare of the dogs and all thought for profit. The dogs live in appallingly dirty, cramped conditions all their lives, and when they no longer serve their purpose they're killed, dumped or sold to vivisection laboratories.

Petshops fit into the picture because puppy mills are generally where petshops get their animals from. Furthermore, having animals in shop windows encourages impulse purchases, and adding an animal to your family should be a conscious, careful decision - NOT one to be made while shoe shopping.

Breeders contribute enormously to the tragic statistics above too. And it doesn't matter whether they're professional breeders or backyard breeders, and whether they breed for profit or not, because while there are homeless animals sitting on death row in shelters, any and all animal breeding is utterly irresponsible.

Now, here's where you come in. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. You can either buy animals from puppy mills, petshops or breeders and be part of the problem. Or you can adopt from a shelter or rescue organisation and be part of the solution.

If I haven't convinced you, visit your local shelter to see the homeless animals. Let their innocent faces convince you that adopting is the only responsible choice to make.

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