Category Archives: Yoga

5 Steps for Picking a Yoga Class

You’ve heard all about the benefits of yoga.  You know it can provide flexibility, strength, stress relief and relaxation.  You are ready to try a class and see what it can do for you, but you are not sure which class to take.  The following steps will help you choose a class that is right for you, giving you the best chance for an enjoyable class.

Know what you want from yoga

Yoga offers a lot of benefits – physical, mental and spiritual.  Make sure you know what you really want, and also what you don’t want.  Are you looking to increase flexibility and strength with little concern for mental improvement?  Do you want an aerobic workout?  Does your mind need a rest more than your body needs a workout?  Does the philosophy of yoga turn you off?  Knowing what you want from your yoga practice is the most important step to ensuring you choose a class that is right for you.

Research local yoga studios

You can find yoga classes at many different places including dedicated studios, gyms and fitness centers, community centers and more.  Start with an internet search for ‘yoga classes [your city]’ to get a feel for your options.  Look through the websites of facilities in your area, keeping in mind step 1 – knowing what you want.  Dedicated studios are more likely to have classes that focus on the philosophy of yoga, including breathing and meditation in classes.  They are also more likely to offer the largest selection of classes.  Gyms and fitness centers often offer more fitness based classes, with a focus on the physical benefits.  Classes at YMCAs, community centers and other facilities are likely to more basic, catering to the general population who may not take regular classes.  Make sure to read the ‘About Us’ or  ‘Our Mission’ page to get an understanding of what the facility wants you to get from them.

Find a class with a description that suits you

After you have narrowed down the facility choices, read through each of the class descriptions.  Many studios offer in depth class descriptions with the style of class, length of class, ability level needed, inclusion of breathing or meditation and more.  Even short descriptions such as “Basic flow class suitable for all levels with a focus on flexibility” are helpful.  Remember what you want to get from class and focus on descriptions that meet those criteria.  Classes that say all levels or any ability level will usually start with basic postures and show modifications to make them more intense or difficult.  These classes are a great way to see how the physical aspect of yoga progresses and allows you to stretch your abilities slowly as you attend more classes.

Make sure it fits your schedule

This is often the step that is considered first when trying to decide on a yoga class.  Schedules are hectic and finding time for you can be difficult.  Being available for class is obviously important, but don’t sacrifice what you really want from your yoga class for the sake of timing.  Especially with the first few classes you attend, choosing schedule over substance could turn you off yoga entirely.  It is important to start with a class that meets your needs.  Allow yourself time to get to class without rushing or stressing.  If you show up flustered, it will impact your class negatively.  The first time you go to a studio or facility arrive 15 minutes early to sign up and get information about the facility.  You’ll want to know if they have any specific policies and where the restrooms and locker rooms (if any) are.  This will also give you a few minutes before class to relax and prepare.

Ask Around

This step can be done at any time during your search for a yoga class, but I suggest saving it for the end, using others experience and opinions as a confirmation of what you have found, or reason to rethink your decision.  Asking others too early can bias your search and cause you to exclude classes that would be great for you, because maybe they were not right for someone else.  When you do talk with others, make sure you understand what they are getting from their yoga practice and ask if the classes they recommend will help you get what you want from the class.

Remember, the key is to know what you want and find a class that can provide those things for you.  Even if you have tried yoga before or you practice one style regularly, these tips can help you discover new classes.

Good luck and Namaste!

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Great Beginnings

I have now taught two official yoga classes.  Each class had one student.  While I would have loved more, both classes have been wonderful and overwhelming.  The thought that someone wants to learn yoga from me blows my mind. 

After class today, my student told me it was the best and most relaxed she had felt all day.  Everything that had happened up to that point melted away and I was completely filled up.  I knew that moment was exactly why I wanted to teach and I am so grateful for the opportunity to share what I love with others. 

What a wonderful beginning!

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My Yoga Website

Along with becoming a rock star yoga instructor,  (well, I teach yoga, so close enough right?)  I have created a website to host my teaching schedule, my yoga bio, and some other random yoga stuff.

Check it out at www.jessicacasperyoga.wordpress.com.

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Happy Thought Thursday

…because we all need a little more happy in our lives.

I am going to be a real life yoga teacher!!!! 

My first class will be Saturday, June 12th at 10am at Chandler Park Community Center.  I will be teaching Tuesday’s at 6pm and Saturday’s at 10am through August 14th.  From then on classes will be on Saturday’s only.

I. Am. So. Nervous. 

And HAPPY!!!!

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Learning to Get Over Myself

Today, during some free time between taking the GMAT and calculus class, I planned to get my outdoor yoga on in a local park.  Yoga in the sun is just really so amazing.  I’ve mentioned it before.

The sun decided not to cooperate with me, however.  The sky had the signs and the scents of impending rain, and I almost decided not to do it.  But I am glad I did.  It made me realize how far I am from being truly comfortable with myself in front of others.

Upon arrival at the park, I spotted many more people than I expected to be there at 5pm on a Monday.  I got nervous.  I drove around scouting a place I could practice where not many people were around.  There were no such places.  I finally parked.  I finally got out.  Tentatively I walked around, no mat in hand, looking for a spot.  Once I found a place I thought would be acceptable, even though the soccer team practicing near by could see me and it was pretty close to the walking trail, I went back to my car for my mat. 

I was so acutely aware of all the people who were there and wondering if they saw me, what would they think.  “Look at the crazy woman doing crazy poses over there all by herself.” I wondered how many would know I was doing yoga, how many would be curious and watch for a while, how many would not pay any attention at all.

When I finally got settled and closed my eyes to begin my practice I focused as much as I could internally.  I tried to think only about each breath, each movement, as if it were the only thing in the whole world.  Of course, as people passed by on the trail and I heard the shouts from the soccer practice, I was torn away from yoga and back to the reality being in a public place where lots of people could see me.

It was tougher than I expected.  I know I have a long way to go if I want to be truly comfortable in front of people.  If I want to teach – oh my goodness, and then I even have to talk in front of people.  I have to learn to get over myself somehow. 

It is strange how I have always been this way.  Often, I will not go into a small store or shop I have never been in if I am by myself.  It makes me uncomfortable for some reason.  There are many things I would like to do but I don’t have the courage to do alone.  I like getting lost in the crowds. 

Teaching yoga is definitely going to be all about me being front and center.  Leading others.  I get nervous just thinking about it.  I really, really do want to teach.  I want to help others.  I want to share this amazing thing I have found. 

It is going to take a lot of patience, a lot of practice, and a lot of getting over myself.

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Going for it!!!!

After lots of thinking and wishing and debating, I decided to just go for it:  I am getting YogaFit certified to teach next month!!!

Excited would be an understatement about how I feel right now.  I have known for a long time that I want to teach yoga and while my ultimate longterm goal is 500ERYT, it will take a while to get there.  Because I have decided to go to grad school and get my MBA starting this year, I have to put off my 200RYT training until 2012.  I just cannot wait that long to start teaching. 

While YogaFit is not my first choice or favorite option, it is a well-respected training program.  And I can start teaching after one weekend plus 8 hours of community service yoga. 

Dreams, they are starting to come true!

I also have plans for how and where I will teach once certified, but I am keeping those plans under wraps for now.  There is a lot that has to happen to get me there and I want to have more direction before I tell the world.  But let me tell you, I AM EXCITED!!!

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Sunshine Yoga

It was a beautiful, sunny day today.  The most beautiful day of the year so far, in fact.  I took full advantage of the beauty and practiced my yoga outside, in the bright shining sun.

There is little that compares to the feeling of the warm sun on your face when you lift into upward dog, or lean back into camel, chest towards the sky.  Ahhh…  just thinking about how it felt makes me smile.  I fully intended to go back to the Vinyasa class that kicked my butt last week, but the sun was too compelling.  Resistance was futile. 

Yoga in the sunshine is one of life’s little pleasures.  It should be done more often.  When I own my yoga studio some day, it will have a rooftop area to practice outside.  I can’t imagine much that would be more wonderful than that.

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