7 Things Your Yoga Instructors Want You To Know
Hi beautiful! It’s yoga week in your Tone It Up app and we’re so excited to spend some quality time on the mat with you. Yoga holds a special place in our hearts ~ Karena and I had our very first “date” at yoga class! I asked her to go with me, not telling her it was my first class ever! Little did we know we’d both go on to complete our yoga teacher training so we could eventually share our practice with YOU. 💗
As much as we’ve learned through the years, we are still learning and growing every day. I’ll never forget how nervous I felt in that first class, not knowing the names of all the poses and if I was doing them “right.” I was so thankful to have Karena to reassure me that I belonged and should stick with it! Sometimes all we need is that little push from another TIU girl, am I right?!
So if you’re a beginner to practicing yoga or feel like things aren’t quite clicking on the mat, here are a few things we wish we knew starting out. From alignment tips to getting in the right headspace, we’ve got you! We see your brave and brilliant soul, and we can’t wait to celebrate you every day in the Studio this week!
It all starts with mindfulness
What’s more important than nailing crow or dancer pose? Moving through each posture with mindfulness. So many of us show up to our mats with a go-go-go mentality and a growing to-do list running through our heads. The beauty of yoga is it forces you to slow down, stay present, and be mindful of your body and breath as you move through space. Another way we practice mindfulness: setting an intention at the beginning of each class. We’d love to hear your intention for this week. Share in the comments below!
It’s NOT all about flexibility
You girls know I can barely touch my toes….just me?! And that’s OK! Think of it like this: yoga makes you flexible, you don’t need to be flexible to do yoga. No matter how you come to your mat, know that you’re exactly where you’re meant to be.
Chaturanga is tougher than you think
This was one of the hardest “basics” to master in my yoga teacher training. Core strength and proper technique is everythinggg in this vinyasa sequence. Common mistakes in chaturanga pose: not shifting your weight far enough forward, skipping the low push-up, and coming straight into upward dog. As you lower down, your arms should form a 90-degree angle, core engaged, and weight shifted forward with your shoulders over your fingertips. And in upward dog, the only thing touching the mat should be your hands and feet. Want to practice? Try Chevy’s “Cha Cha Chaturanga” routine in the yoga On Demand section of your Tone It Up app!
Your breath really matters
Breathing shouldn’t be an afterthought. Yoga is all about matching breath to movement — and there are different styles of breathing, or pranayama, to accomplish different goals. For example, Ujjayi breath, breathing in through the nose and out through the nose, is meant to keep you focused and centered as you flow from one posture to the next. Meanwhile, alternate nostril breathing is said to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. And breath of fire is used to heat and invigorate the body (check out Karena’s Fire + Flow workout in your Tone It Up app to try it!).
Warrior two alignment starts in the feet
Not totally sure what your instructor means when she says “heel to arch” alignment”? We’ve got you! Take a peek down at your feet. Your front heel should intersect the arch of your back foot (which should be positioned at a 45-degree angle). A few more warrior two tips: make sure your front knee is aligned with your ankle, and arms are strong with shoulders relaxed. Think about your tailbone lengthening toward the ground, core engaged.
No one becomes a master yogi overnight
In some of my first yoga classes, it seemed like everyone knew how to do a handstand except me! Remember that every student has to start somewhere. No one is born a master yogi so don’t be hard on yourself if you can’t nail a pose. The amazing thing about yoga is it’s YOUR journey, and all that matters is what’s in between the four corners of your mat. Don’t sweat what’s happening on the mats next to you. This is your time for you — no distractions, comparisons, or judgement.
Namaste is more than a greeting
Nope, namaste doesn’t mean “the end” or “see ya next time!” This Sanskrit expression of respect and reverence literally translates to “I bow to you” (nama meaning bow and te meaning you). Or more specifically, “The light and love in me honors, greets, and sees the light and love in you.” We seal every practice with a “namaste” to say just that: I see you, I hear you, I adore you. And we really do!