by Chuck Raffoni: Having practiced yoga for decades, it’s often easy to forget the mind of a beginner…
Things that seasoned practitioners take for granted—taking your socks off, knowing how to roll out a mat, and knowing what to do with a yoga brick—are common questions of a first time yogi. It takes courage and the willingness to be vulnerable to come to a yoga class for the first time, particularly if you are on your own.
As a teacher, I am always focused on teaching to the beginner in class while offering modifications to the more seasoned practitioners.
To be clear, a skilled yoga teacher will always make a first time yoga class experience safe and beneficial for those who make the choice to show up. However, with experience, I’ve come to believe that perhaps the best first time experience isn’t in the class setting but with a private one-on-one mentoring session.
If you’ve been following a particular instructor on social media who you feel resonates with you, or perhaps you have had recommendations from others in your community, reach out to that instructor to set up some one-on-one time.
I believe this type of first time experience is beneficial for the following reasons:
1. It minimizes any first time anxiety.
The instructor will be able to guide you through your first practice and answer questions you may have, like: What clothing should I wear? Should I bring water or something to hydrate myself during the practice?
Upon arrival, the instructor can focus their attention on getting you set up with what props to have nearby, explaining the benefits of practicing barefoot or with grip socks, and making sure to answer any questions you may have in a way that does not feel rushed or within the confines of a class starting quickly.
2. It helps you determine why you have chosen yoga.
In private conversations, I often hear that someone has tried yoga and felt it wasn’t for them. In some cases, that very well may be the case.
But, with deeper questioning, we often learn that they did not find the right class or instructor to suit their “why” for choosing yoga.
In a private session, the instructor can help you determine which class or combination of classes may be best for you. Perhaps it’s for physical strength, restoration of the body, relaxation and stress management, mobility, or spiritual connection. A seasoned instructor can help address your specific needs, and in addition to guiding you to the right classes, perhaps open your mind to other possibilities that yoga has to offer.
Many new yoga practitioners aren’t aware yet that yoga is an eight-limbedtree of self-care and self-actualization and that the asana practice is just one part. Is it too late to shift the vernacular to, “I am going to asana class” instead of “yoga class?”