If you have just begun practicing yoga or trying to figure out if it is right for you, you may find yourself wondering what a typical class consists of and what the yoga teachers can do for you. Though it should be known that sometimes yoga teachers may touch you during your class, it is nothing to be alarmed about.
Your yoga teacher touches you to help you with your poses. With that said, they should be assisting you gently and appropriately. By allowing them to touch and adjust your form, you will benefit in terms of reducing injury, building strength, conserving energy, and improving your posture.
As a newbie to yoga, you may still feel a little put off by the idea of yoga teachers touching you and getting in your personal space. If that is the case and you are still wondering why they touch you, why it is important that they do, and if you can tell them not to touch you at all, then you should keep reading this article below to find out more about the topic.
Depending on the yoga studio, the style of yoga class you are doing, and the instructor teaching the class, the poses, sequences, and pace of the class will vary. So, doing a little research on the studio’s website about the classes and teachers as well as finding out the different styles of yoga they have can set yourself up for a great and enjoyable session.
Each class will require you to set down your mat somewhere facing the front, grab your equipment, and lay silently on your mat with your eyes closed or open until the teacher begins the session. For the most part, people are there to relax. Keep in mind that leaving your phone in the car and whispering is expected in the studio.
Following the practice, you will get to do a Savasana or Corpse Pose, which has you lay flat on your back with your eyes closed for a couple of minutes. While it may feel like a waste of time, take this moment of quiet and stillness to thank your body and prepare yourself for your day ahead.
To get a general idea about some of the styles of yoga class that exists, here are a handful of different styles of yoga and what they consist of:
- Hatha Yoga is a basic yoga class that is both contemporary and physical. This is slower-paced and will sometimes include Asana poses, meditation, and relaxation and breathing techniques. This is a great beginner’s class or one that can be used for yogis to slow down and fully experience their practice.
- Vinyasa Flow is a style that focuses on improving your overall strength and flexibility. It typically includes Sun Salutations and varies in pace and intensity. This style is done through a sequence of poses that flow smoothly with each other and is perfect if you are looking for a more interesting and faster class than Hatha. You can watch or experience for yourself a 45-minute Vinyasa Flow in this video below:
- Yin Yoga is all about flexibility and remaining still. If you are looking for a very slow-paced class that focuses on holding poses for up to 5 minutes, Yin Yoga is a great option. Nonetheless, just because it is slower-paced does not mean it is easy, as it takes great focus to calm the mind and remain still for long periods in a pose.
- Slow Flow is a combination of the two styles, Hatha Yoga and Vinyasa Flow, and it focuses on moving slowly through each of your poses. This Yoga has a rhythm that allows you to experience the calm that a Hatha yoga would give you while still benefiting from the improvement in strength and flexibility you would get from a Vinyasa Flow.
- Ashtanga is a class that focuses on building your stamina through a more athletic yoga style and improving your bone density through various weight-bearing poses. The six different series that style consists of each have a sequence of a specific order of poses. In this video, you can see what a 30-minute Ashtanga yoga session would be like:
- Core Vinyasa is a style of Yoga that is great if you are looking to work and strengthen your core (abdominal muscles). A Core Vinyasa class focuses on building a strong core through a series of poses that are done in a sequence similar to a Vinyasa Flow.
- Restorative Yoga is a relaxing yoga style that is slow-paced and meant to help you renew and rejuvenate your mind and your body. Through different relaxing poses, many of which are done while lying down, this class helps you release any tension that has been building up in your body.
- Iyengar Yoga is all about proper alignment and aligning your posture. This style of Yoga focuses strongly on the details and pushes you to hold your poses for longer periods, overall improving your alignment.
While these were only some of the many different styles of Yoga, you should keep in mind that it will vary based on the instructor you have, so finding one you like is always good to ensure you know what to expect in class.
Yoga classes are typically 1 hour in length, with about 5 minutes at the beginning spent setting the tone for your practice, and the last 5 minutes spent relaxing and being grateful for your practice.
However, if you do Yoga at home, you can find 30-minute yoga sessions available to follow online.
If you do not know the pose your yoga instructor is asking of you, they will be more than happy to show you, or you can just follow their lead when they demonstrate and get their assistance afterward.
Taking a beginner yoga class as the first yoga class you take is a great way to get accustomed to all the different types of poses and yoga lingo that you may hear. This way, you can ensure your first “real” yoga class goes smoothly. Do not worry if you do not know some of the poses; some instructors love to throw in new poses all the time, so chances are you are not the only one.
If you have a yoga mat, you are more than welcome to bring it to class, along with any other equipment you may have. However, most studios or instructors will provide you with all the equipment you will need, such as a mat, a belt such as the Tumaz Yoga Strap, blocks such as the SZOCOOL Blue Yoga Block, or blankets, and some studios will even rent out towels. It is always best to double-check with the studio, though, so you show up prepared.
As for anything else, bringing water to class is a great idea, especially in a refillable bottle, as many studios will have a fountain.
While social media may have made you think otherwise, there is no set outfit for what you should wear to yoga class. The most important thing is that you wear something that you feel confident in and that will be comfortable for the hour-long period that you will be wearing it.
You will want to wear something that is not too loose for a top as you want to ensure that your shirt does not fall over your head in any upside-down poses and reveal anything. You also may want to wear layers, so if you get too hot, you can take off a layer.
If you want, you may also want to wear a sports bra, so you do not have to adjust yourself after every movement.
You want to pick something fairly thin for bottoms, so you are not sweating, especially if it is a hot yoga class. Choosing pants or shorts is completely up to you, though, but the stretchier, the better.
As for socks and shoes, you will not need them as almost every yoga class is done barefoot.
If you are comfortable with it, your yoga teacher will physically adjust your poses during your class. This does not necessarily mean you are doing anything wrong; it more so means that your teacher believes you can improve your alignment in your pose, allowing you to adjust to it more easily.
When they touch you, they may just tap or lightly push or pull a body part and tell you how to adjust it, such as:
- Tap your feet and remind you to flex your toes to the back of the room.
- Tap your leg and let you know you should sink it closer to the ground or higher up.
- Tap or lightly push your neck to ensure you are not putting any strain on it.
They may also assist you even further if you are having trouble executing a pose or getting in the right position by moving your arms, legs, hips, or feet to align them properly. Overall, their goal is to help you fully experience the pose and not place any unnecessary strain on parts of your body.
To learn more about why it is best to have proper form and alignment in your yoga poses, keep reading the next section.
Having the proper form or alignment in a yoga pose is essential for two main reasons:
- The first is to fully experience the pose and get the full benefits from it that it provides.
- The second is for safety and ensuring that you are not putting too much strain on parts of your body that cannot take it, such as your wrists or knees.
Yoga is a practice that not only uses your most used muscles and body parts. It also asks you to move various other parts that may not usually get stretched; when this happens, having proper alignment is important to ensure your muscles can properly align with the rest of your body in a way that does not cause you any pain.
However, it should be noted that everyone’s body is different, so even if you are not in as much of a split as the guy beside you, do not worry as long as you have the proper form and alignment. Nonetheless, a yoga teacher touching you can be the best thing for helping you understand how your body moves and how it should be aligned for each position.
Completing your yoga session using the proper form and alignment can almost guarantee that you will not pull any muscles or hurt yourself.
Some of the most common yoga injuries are locked joints or strained necks from putting your shoulders too close to your ears while holding a pose. Additionally, you are using your spine for a lot of movements, so ensuring your body is in proper alignment can reduce any stress that was being improperly placed on your spine.
By underusing certain muscles or moving them in a wrong way, you can cause bad back or neck pain, which will only make yoga painful. While it may sound cheesy, you do not want to get hurt because even though it may not bother you at the moment, it could cause you some pain later on.
Through the lens of biomechanics, completing your poses in proper alignment and form can optimize the power that your body is producing. Through this, you will maximize your results, have properly stacked joints to aid in strength, and overall find it easier to breathe throughout your practice.
You are also conserving your energy, which is where you utilize your body more efficiently and, in turn, allows you to expel less energy and feel more energized throughout and after your practice.
By properly moving through and holding each pose, you will be optimizing your muscle performance, which builds strength. The more strength you build, the easier you will find it is to complete poses.
Your energy is free to flow through you most perfectly through proper alignment, so it reaches every part of your body. When this happens, you are benefiting your physical health and your mental and spiritual health as you channel energy to parts of your body that may need it.
Proper alignment makes for beautiful looking yoga poses and an improved posture and physical appearance in your everyday life. Through practicing proper alignment in your yoga sessions, you will also be benefiting your alignment in other things, such as when you are sitting at a desk.
You are technically paying for an instructor to guide you through poses, show you the proper form for each of the poses, and ensure you are safely practicing yoga, so you do not hurt yourself. But you are also within your rights to let a yoga teacher know that you are not comfortable with them touching you.
The good news is, many yoga instructors will begin the class by asking those who are okay with physical assistance to raise their hands while everyone remains on the floor with their eyes closed. This way, you are able to give your answer honestly.
However, if they do not, letting them know before the yoga class begins is the best option so they are aware. Sometimes, they probably thought they saw your hand raised, so if that is the case, saying, “I’m okay, thanks,” if they do try to touch or assist you is perfectly acceptable when it comes to your personal space.
Additionally, you may find that a teacher is pushing you to stretch in a way that causes you pain; in this case, letting them know is a great way to ensure that they can help you better.
When a yoga teacher goes to touch parts of your body, it is not for any reason other than to help you ease into your pose in the most optimal way possible. By allowing them to touch you, you can ensure that you are properly holding a position, giving you the full benefits of the pose, helping build your strength, and reducing any chances of injury.
In most cases, the yoga teacher will always begin the session by asking those who are okay with physical assistance to raise their hands if they do not; however, letting them know that you are not comfortable with it is okay as well.
Keep in mind that yoga is meant to be enjoyed, so ensuring that your yoga teacher assists you in a way that makes you feel comfortable is important, especially if you plan on going back to that yoga teacher again.
- Ekhart Yoga: What to Expect in Your First Yoga Class
- Ekhart Yoga: Yoga Style Guide
- Yoga Force: Why Alignment is Important in Yoga
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