Remember last week when I rounded up tips for a great yoga practice? Well, in the process of doing all that I met Molly. Molly had so many tips that I suggested we just turn them into a single guest post!
1. Take time at the beginning of class not only to arrive physically, but more importantly, to arrive mentally. Yoga is the union of the mind and body; connecting your inner and outer self, bringing together what’s above your neck with what’s below. It’s not about long hamstrings and perfect postures. As you come to your mat, reflect on what yoga is, what it is not, and to not just be on your mat in body, but in mind also.
2. Acknowledge distractions, and let them be. We all hear noises when we practice. If we are alone we hear and see what’s around us. And if we are in a group class, we also have the noises of others that can capture our focus. Instead of that, remind yourself you already know what it sounds like when a phone rings, when someone reaches for their water bottle, a door opening or closing, someone sneezing, and so on. Since you already know what these noises sound like, there is no need to turn and look each time you hear one. Each time you do look, you break that connection you started, you interrupt the yoga, and have to start again.
3. Hydrate! And not just right before or right after your practice, but all day, each day. If you want to release toxins, you need hydration! Think of yourself like a plant. Are you a wilted plant, or a tall and vivacious one? Your organs need to be hydrated to function, just like your car needs gas to run. It’s your kidneys and liver that process and eliminate toxins. Keep yourself hydrated so your body can do it’s job. It’s not sweating that releases toxins (yes I know, this is probably a surprise to hear that, but it’s true), but remember as you sweat, you become more dehydrated. It’s important to continually replace the water you lose, starting when you wake up in the morning. Even though you sleep, your body continues with the elimination process. If you have a hard time remembering to drink water throughout the day, try setting cell phone reminders.
4. My teacher Bryan Kest says, “The harder you are on something, the faster it wears out. This is true of your favorite sweater, your toaster, your relationships, and your body.” Americans have a bad habit of always pushing harder, further, and faster. Think about it – if you’re going to buy a car, do you buy it from the reckless teenager who often speeds and brakes hard, or the little old lady who drove her car in town and never exceeded the speed limit? Ok so, how are you treating your body? Are you more like the haphazard teenager, or the little old lady?
5. As TKV Desikachar wrote of Krishamacharya in “The Heart of Yoga,” you should make the class fit your body, not make your
body fit the class. We all have different faces, so it would make sense we have different shaped skeletons and different length muscles and tendons. If we all tried to wear a one-size-fits-all t-shirt, it would look different on all of us. Yoga class isn’t one-size-fits-all. Yoga classes are teachers offering poses and modifications and some will work for you and some won’t. Trying to do what the person next to you or in front of you is doing is foolish. We will all look and feel differently in each posture. As my teacher Bryan Kest also says, “Yoga class is like a buffet restaurant – you take what you want, don’t take what you don’t want, and don’t blame the chef if you overeat.” Your yoga practice is yours, and the needs of your body change daily, even multiple times a day. Don’t insist upon doing more each time you hit your mat and don’t compare yourself with others, or the teacher.
6. Running late? Stressing about needing to leave early? Oh no, you’re THAT person. A true yogi will always be early to class to get extra meditation time in and never ever has something going on after class causing them to skip the all-mighty savasana. Yoga class is the most important thing after all right? Wrong! Things come up sometimes and most yoga teachers (and other students) understand that it isn’t always possible to show up early and stay the full class. While some yoga studios have policies regarding this and it’s best to check beforehand, most yoga teachers would rather have you there for some of the class, rather than not come at all. My personal request is that I prefer students to not be packing up or walking out during savasana. No matter what, that is disruptive. I recommend that if you need to leave early, leave a few minutes before savasana starts. This way, the rest of the class isn’t effected by your exit. It’s also nice to let the teacher know ahead of time, otherwise we think you are leaving early because you don’t like class or something is wrong! Yes, we understand you might not like all of our classes, but having a heads up to your early departure is nice.
Molly structures classes that are well-rounded and at times rigorous. She is passionate about helping others build strength, balance, and flexibility; physically and mentally. She teaches with the message that each person should make every yoga class they take fit their body, and not try and make their body fit every class.
She has been teaching yoga at Courthouse Fitness in Salem since 2011, at Yoga on Yamhill in Portland since 2013, and teaches yoga to people in recovery at a drug, alcohol, and gambling inpatient center.
Molly completed the 200 hour training program in Yoga Therapy with Sarahjoy Marsh of the Daya Foundation in Portland, OR. Along with teaching yoga, she is also a certified Fascial Stretch Therapist.
Below are the links to some of the teachers that have inspired her the most. She’s so honored to have met, learned from, and continue to learn from Bryan Kest, Jules Mitchell, and Sarahjoy Marsh.