Traveling inspires us to try new adventures. Last year, I had the opportunity to participate in a hot yoga class in Woodstock, Georgia. It was a wonderful, rewarding experience but also one that gave me pause. I was concerned if there were any safety tips for yoga class that I should know.
Indeed, there are plenty! Three of the first things the instructor suggested were:
- drink plenty of fluids before, during and after the class
- if a post feels uncomfortable, stop and try to find a more comfortable position
- and if I get fatigued during the yoga class, stop and reset.
Taking these simple words of wisdom to heart, I was able to get through this very challenging class without over-exerting myself.
Along my continued yoga journey, I’ve learned addition safety tips for yoga class that can truly enhance your experience.
Avoid Bodily Distractions
Take a moment use the restroom prior to starting class. Don’t be afraid to leave the class to use the restroom, as well. Just remember to be as quiet as possible when leaving and returning the room as to not disturb other participants. Afraid you’ll need to leave multiple times? Set up near the doorway so you can exit easily.
Try to eat far enough in advance of class that you are neither hungry nor full when you arrive. Hunger can leave you lightheaded or distracted, and a full stomach can lead to nausea in inverted postures.
Unlike the treadmill, you should not have a bottle of water beside your yoga mat. Get a drink beforehand, and feel free to drink plenty of water after class to help continue the detoxifying effects of your twists and inversions.
Remove gum, mints, chewing tobacco or anything else held in the mouth prior to class. This is a choking hazard, and it will keep you from being able to relax your tongue, jaw and lips during class.
Though there are entire lines of yoga fashions, all of the fancy gear is unnecessary. Dress in what will make you comfortable and most able to relax. Experiment with different kinds of stretchy, easy clothing.
You will want to avoid items of clothing that are too baggy, as they will bunch up or slide down during some poses. Simply tucking a T-shirt into the elastic waistband of your pants works wonders. If you wear shorts, most yogis prefer to wear two pairs to avoid flashing anyone.
You will want to be sure to remove all jewelry prior to class. It inhibits the flow of energy around the body. It can hurt or distract you, and could even be broken during practice.
Bring Your Own Mat
Your practice will be far safer with bare feet – you will be less likely to slip, and more agile and comfortable when you’re able to stretch your toes out.
Energy moves through the body like electricity – it starts at the head and flows downward – seeking to ground itself out through the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. Your connection with the earth is vital for this energy circuit to complete, and bare feet are an essential ingredient.
Numerous studies show that sharing yoga mats is not sanitary. Bringing your own mat, or a yoga towel to lay over a borrowed mat are the best options. Also, your energy collects on your mat, and over time, your own mat will hold a special sense of peace and comfort that a borrowed mat cannot contain for you.
If you are traveling and have to use a mat from the club, ask if they have wipes to clean it prior to your class. I also have yoga socks for travel that have no-slip grips on the bottom. So handy! (You can find them at sport shops or on Amazon.)
Be Mindful of Your Cycle
Your yoga practice is about being kind and loving to yourself and your body. You should be equally nurturing to yourself while menstruating. Do not be shy about this; do what you need to do to take care of yourself. Your instructor will understand.
Poses that should not be performed while menstruating and alternatives:
Tadasana, or Mountain Pose: Tadasana is traditionally performed with the outer edges of the feet parallel to one another and the big toes touching. While menstruating, the feet should be hip-distance apart.
Urdhva Dhanurasana, or Wheel Pose: also translated asUpward Bow is an intense backbend. Try Ustra asana (Camel pose) or Setu Bandhasana (Bridge pose) as a gentle alternative while on your period
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, or Shoulder Stand: you can tell by their Sanskrit names, that Bridge Pose is very similar to Shoulder Stand in terms of benfits and action.
Menstruating women should not perform inversions such as shoulder stand, handstand or headstands. Substitute Viparita Karani (Inverted Lake) with their legs up the wall for any inversion.
Remember, the very first of the Yamas of yoga is non-violence. This includes the practice of not harming yourself!
Listen carefully to the instructions you’re given. The teacher tells you the best ways to perform poses not only to get the most out of the stretch, but also for your own safety.
Especially pay attention to the guidance from your own body. Yoga class is not a competition. You may know enough not to compete with the gymnast on the mat beside you, but keep in mind that you are also working against your own expectations. You may be able to glide into a pose one class and struggle a few days later. This is normal. Don’t push yourself beyond the limits of where you are in each individual class.
Adversely, don’t be afraid to try something new! Have fun with it, experiment and discover what it means to be you inside your body.