How we conduct ourselves matters. Yoga is a practice that improves our body and mind. It grows our character and increases our wellbeing. Yoga practice deserves attention. Yoga practice deserves dedication.
In yogaflow, how we move is more important than where we are going. More important than what we are getting. Preparation for class embodies qualities that nurture our actions with refined intention.
It's about being mindful. It's about awareness.
These student obligations are necessary ingredients for fostering one's own daily yoga practice. They are also the rules and guidelines for attending class whether remotely or in person. They set the stage for a fruitful experience. A practice filled with learning, respect, and appreciation.
Let these obligations be a guide. Use them like a recipe--learning to combine the proper ingredients in the correct order and timing to produce a palatable result.
Yoga is meant to be delicious. Begin each practice with this level of intention and dedication, and then enjoy the surrender into yogaflow.
Jaya Guru Devī
Serve the Self
How to prepare, whether alone or attending class. The necessary ingredients to foster a dedicated personal practice.
Beyond honoring self, we honor our peers and teachers. We work together in order to grow together on the path of yoga.
Serve the Self
Have Intention & Purpose
This should be the beginning of any endeavor. But I ask you to look beyond what you get. A stronger and more flexible body, a calmer mind, deeper relaxation, are all wonderful things. But what do you intend to do with those things? What do you want to accomplish? This question can take months or longer to answer. So if you don't have the answer right now, just hold the intention that you will use the gifts of yoga practice in a positive way. And, even better, you will use the gifts for the benefit of others.
Dedicate Time and Space
Ensure that you will have no distractions or disturbances for the entire length of your yoga practice. This is practicing on purpose. Don't have anything else to do. Preparation is as important as the yogaflow itself. It all deserves our attention. Set aside enough time for preparation, practice, and clean-up, so that you are not in a hurry to start or in need to run off after practice.
Prepare your physical space specifically for yoga practice--free of external sounds, possible interruptions, smells, and visible distractions. Treat yoga practice as you would treat a close and dear friend. This is dedication.
Be Physically Ready to Practice
Yoga practice takes physical energy and tremendous attention. Be clean and scent free--including freshly brushed teeth. Practice on an empty stomach. Practice when you have the energy to practice. At best, being tired, digesting food, and body odors are all distractions that take us out of being present. At worst, those distractions create opportunities for discomfort and injury. They work against feeling relaxed in the body and calm in the mind. And without these, the body will not open. This is honoring the body.
Have Proper Tools
Over time, the body becomes open enough to practice comfortably and without extra support. Even still, have all the props you could possibly need regardless of whether they will actually be used. This gives freedom for the yogaflow to take the course that's right for you. Mats should be clean and stable--providing enough tack so that the feet do not slide in standing poses. Arrange other props such as blocks and straps where you need them. Know where they are.
Props are extensions of the ground and of the body. They deserve as much awareness as the body itself. Yogaflow is practiced with relaxation in action. If the body isn't relaxed, add props to provide support. Again, this allows the body to open. This is honoring the body.
Know Your Limits
Yoga exists with the union of relaxed body, rhythmical breath, and focused mind. Knowing your limits is simply paying attention to where tension exists. Only go as far as the tension and the stretch will allow without strain. Pay attention to subtle limitations. They deserve as much awareness as larger stretches. It's better to do the right thing with relaxation than to do the wrong thing to make it easier or to appear or feel like you are going farther. Proper alignment creates opening. Incorrect alignment does nothing and could cause injury.
Take your time with the flow. This is your practice. This is not a performance. You are not being graded or judged. You don't have to do everything you know or have learned. One movement or āsana done well is worth more than doing the same thing poorly over several repetitions. Pause and allow breath and awareness to strengthen as needed. And if it's clear that an āsana is not available to you in the moment, then modify it, add props, or leave it be. They body always wins. Let the body open in its own time.
Practice with Joy
This is āsana practice--pronounced with a long ahhhh. Enjoy the practice like you would enjoy watching the sun set over the horizon. Take in the stunning beauty. Breathe. Be patient. The flow has its own timing. There is no hurry. Practice begins and ends with smooth and even pacing. The rhythmical breath is continuous.
Finish the entire practice. Every part of the practice is important. This action helps strengthens our own ability to follow through with an intention. When the mind feels like escaping, return to the breath and respect your limits. The time and space are already set. The only requirement is to maintain the trinity of relaxed body, rhythmical breath, and focused mind.
Āsana, Prāṇāyāma, Mudrā
You can use the information on class structure for guidance on the sequence of a practice.
When practice is complete, remain in the flow. Savor and sustain the opening and calm you've worked diligently to foster--letting breath continue to guide your body with relaxation as you put things away, and flow on with your day and your life.
We are together. Maintain a quiet atmosphere whether attending in-person at a yoga studio, on an extended retreat, or online. Do not wear any scents including essential oils, perfumes, or strong body products to protect the sensitivity of others and to limit your own distractions. When in studio, give others space to prepare their space and themselves. Remain focused on your intentions. This atmosphere begins at the door to the yoga studio. When attending online, begin inward focus during your preparations and join the Zoom meeting when you are ready to practice. Whether online or in-person, be ready to practice for the scheduled time--with everything prepared, and in a comfortable, supported seated position, with focus on the natural breath.
Know Your Technology
For online classes, learn in advance how to operate Zoom meeting on the device you will be using so that you can help maintain a calm atmosphere when you connect. There are different ways to set up your camera and screen. If being seen is uncomfortable for you, you are welcome to leave your video off and set up your screen for your viewing ease.
Please reach out to me if you need help with navigating this website or Zoom meeting. Visit the How to Attend Class Online page for help with Zoom and camera & screen setup.
Take Your Time
There can be a tendency to want to hurry up to follow instructions. Hurrying takes us out of the flow. Breath is always the guide. So, treat my instruction as if they were coming from in in-car GPS--waiting until you get to the transition points to continue on. Maintain even pacing and mindful participation--always honoring your body and your limits.
Though we maintain a quiet presence, feel free to ask me questions in the moment. You may need clarification on a movement or posture you don't understand. You may need to see me demonstrate the current yogaflow. Or maybe you just want confirmation of an experience. All questions are valid. Class time is for finding the answers you seek. Then, with those answers, you can return to your personal practice and explore more deeply.
Participate in the Entire Class
All parts of the class structure are important. Leaving early works against receiving benefits from the practice and is disruptive to others. For the days where your time is limited, choose an abbreviated personal practice instead--honoring your body and the present moment.
Stay in the Flow
When practice is complete, remain in the flow. Clean-up and put your props away with calm mindfulness. Yoga can have a dramatic affect on our feelings and awareness. Let others in addition to yourself have the space to integrate. They may even wish to remain in silent reflection.
You are always welcome to ask me questions. In-person, we can step aside from others and talk quietly. If we are online, contact me at a separate time by phone or email. If desired, we can set up a private session to go over details of the practice.
Class ends with salutation and the soft call and response of namaste. Namaste honors each other mutually. We are all sentient beings. We all carry the same inner light. We are all on a journey--moving away from suffering, and moving towards bliss.