Yoga, Yoga Questions Answered

I am about to get all PBS commercial (I know, an oxymoron) on you, but in truth, this blog is made possible by…other blogs. Specifically by the ones I’ve included in the sidebar: women bloggers who totally rock my world with their content.

One of these bloggers, whom I’ve followed since I was in college, and who seems to always be just one year ahead of me, is Carly from The College Prepster. She blogs about organization, the art of blogging, style, writing in general and what it’s like to be your own boss (the new meaning of BYOB!). These are all things I am interested in, which was reason enough to read this blog for a few years…so imagine my delight when this morning, I found this post about how the lovely Carly is about to take a yoga class…in my own stomping grounds, the UES of Manhattan, no less! One of the reasons I loved this post was because of all the questions and vulnerability Carly posed to her readers. As a reader, and yoga writer in my own right, I am thrilled to provide some answers for the newbie yogi or returner!

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My post-writing warning: this post has kind of turned into a lengthy manifesta…but I think it’s worth it!

How early do I show up for class? If you’re already wearing your yoga clothes (which I recommend!), show up 15 minutes before class. As someone who now has a ton of experience working MindBodyOnline at yoga studio front desks, it’s just nicer to the people signing you in…and I have yet to meet someone who goes to yoga to be mean. Plus, if you get signed in early and set up your mat, take the time to do your own practice. This can mean child’s pose, meditating or my fave – a supported bridge pose with a block underneath the sacrum.

Where do I put my clothes? Only some large studios (usually chain ones/franchises) have lockers for you to put your clothes in. My suggestion: take up two cubbies in the studio room – one for your clothes and another for your bags. It makes the clothes way easier access because the most competitive part of yoga is the post-class mad dash to the few dressing rooms afforded in most studios.

Will everyone be in tiny shorts and a sports bra? No and yes. Sorry, but as a veteran of the Upper East Side, the chances of tiny shorts and a sports bra are definitely high, especially for hot yoga classes at Pure Yoga, New York Yoga and Earth Yoga (studios on the UES). And you can bet on it at any Bikram studio…but that’s a whole other ball game and my diplomatic opinion on that is…to each their own, but if it were me I wouldn’t venture there. If you go to a regular vinyasa, the tiny shorts + sports bra is a 50/50 chance. If you go to Slow Flow or Yin or Restorative (all options are so yummy!), you’re likely to find lovely leggings and fitted full-length tops. This latter option – in any yoga class – is my bias as a yoga teacher. When adjusting students, I adjust over the clothes and depending on the clothing brand/how much you’re willing to invest, the clothes will prevent your mat from getting too sweaty.

photo via laughing lotus nyc

photo via laughing lotus nyc

Where do I put my mat? Middle of the room! Next to a wall! Why? You can look to the people at the front of the room as a reference for proprioception. If you’re near a wall, you can use it as a prop for balancing poses, inversions and some restorative poses – plus, you’ll avoid the rush when the teacher will tell you to go there anyways.

Now that we’re past the etiquette, here are some of my answers to Carly’s more direct questions (yes, this is a maha post!):

Does anyone have tips for overcoming that gym/studio fear that sets in?

Breathe! Remember that everyone is there for themselves just like you’re there for yourself. They’re too busy worrying about their downward dog to worry about yours.

Has anyone tried a yoga studio that they love in NYC or on the Upper East Side?

Pure Yoga East on 86th and 3rd  is where I first got my education. I met teachers there who inspired me to become one myself. There are still some fantastic educators, but the ones I “grew up on OM” with have moved on elsewhere…and it’s on the very expensive side. For New York Yoga, I recommend Chloe’s classes and they have two locations: 85th and Lexington and another on 86th and York. I discovered Earth Yoga more recently (before I moved to the West Coast and on a particularly chilly winter). Every teacher I’ve taken class with there is a power house (Matt is particularly amazing), but be ready to be hard-core and combine some martial arts with yoga! And then there’s the gem of House of Jai that has an awesome two weeks unlimited new student special on 76th and 1st. If I were a beginner, I’d go there. My friend Leo Rising teaches there and he’s a doll. But really the best place for beginners if you’re okay with making a trek to Harlem 125th is Harlem Yoga Studio, my beloved studio that I taught at when I lived on the East Coast.

Any must-have products? What kind of routine has worked out best for you?

Not at first. Go low key. Rent out studio mats for a dollar or two and figure out which one you like best. Then – and only then – invest. The usual internal battle is between Jade and Manduka.

~ a yoga blog post written (not ironically?) from the orthopedist’s office ~

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