I have finally, FINALLY, figured out the three secrets to having a great yoga class. I figured them out last week when I had several great classes in a row. I started to pay attention to what might be contributing to them, and I really think I got a handle on it.
Before we get into all this, what do I mean when I say a great yoga class? Obviosuly, what constitues a great class for each of us is a very personal thing. For me, this most recent run of great classes has meant I have felt strong and amazing throughout and had some posture breakthroughs. But this is just one way a great class could look. You know what your’s looks like!
Secret #1: Cupcakes
There’s the saying that correlation doesn’t equal causation, but when it come to secret #1, I might have to disagree. Before I started having all my fabulous classes, I made some cupcakes (vanilla with chocolate frosting). You will notice that both those recipes have the words THE BEST in their title. I think this played a major role in helping have THE BEST classes.
All I’m saying is that I ate two cupcakes two days in a row before taking class (it was an afternoon class, not a morning class. I didn’t have cupcakes for breakfast), and I had fantastic classes. Draw your own conclusions.
Secret#2: Stupid Backbends
It’s no secret around here that I hate backbending. But you know what else I hate (and maybe hate even more than backbending?) – sitting in a chair all day. And while my job affords me the opportunity to work from home a lot, the weather has been so awful that I am confined inside. This means I have no chance to go for a walk and take a break. Ok, I could, but I’m not a fan of getting pelted in the face with ice just to say I went for a walk.
So, on the same day that I started downing cupcakes I also started doing backbends. My back was driving me nuts from sitting in the chair. I did 10 wall walks and 5 camels. I like to do them all in sets of five every 60-90 minutes. At no time did I enjoy doing any of this, but I will admit that my back felt better by the second day. I will also tell you that I was able to hold camel for both sets on the second day. I also started getting cramps in the spine strengethening series. I considered that a good thing though as it was likely from all that backbending. I will admit that backbending could be important.
Breathe. It sounds so simple and yet it’s taken me almost three years to start to feel like I have a handle on my breathing in class. Breathing is hard. Way hard. But I have spent a lot of time (literally years) working on paying attention to my breath in class. Recently I noticed that if I can hone in on my breath and find something to look at in a posture (what I look at varies depending on the posture), then I can often hold the posture longer than I might. When I start to wobble or the thought of “I can’t hold this any longer” enters my head, I am starting to direct myself back to my breath. I focus on it coming in and out. Sometimes this only buys me one or two seconds, but that is not the point! Holding one or two seconds more is great. I have to think that the it’s all cumulative and eventually I’ll be holding it for 5-10 seconds longer than I am used to.
So there you have it. The three secrets to having a great class. My only problem is I ate all the cupcakes which leaves me to wonder what classes without cupcakes will be like….
What helps you have a great class?