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Understanding a Good Yoga Class

Many of my new students often do not know what to expect in a Yoga class or have general misconceptions about Yoga. This is not surprising as Yoga is often misunderstood. At one extreme, it is a pure spiritual practice that can corrupt your existing religious beliefs. At the other extreme, it is a set of powerful exercises done in dance like moves. In between these extremes, you have everything from indulging in carnal pleasure to levitation.

To be honest, there is some truth in every version but as they say – half a truth is half a lie. It is important to have a general understanding of Yoga before attending a Yoga class. This is to ensure that your needs are aligned to what you can expect in a class. As this article is not about finding the best meaning for Yoga, I will broadly summarize Yoga. Yoga can be divided into 2 main categories:

Hatha Yoga – Focus is purely physical and includes postures, cleansing and symbolic gestures.

Raja Yoga – Focus is on the mind and includes breathing and meditation.

All other modern-day branches of Yoga will fall into either or both of these categories. There are 3 accepted authoritative texts on Yoga:

Gheranda Samhita

Hatha Yoga Prathipika

Patanjali Yoga Sutra

Patanjali Yoga Sutra explains Raja Yoga. Gheranda Samhita and Hatha Yoga Prathipika advocate Hatha Yoga before Raja Yoga. The reason for this as explained in the Gheranda Samhita, is that a person should attain control of the body, before he or she can begin exercises in control of the mind.

So what should you expect from a Yoga class? Firstly, it is important that prior to beginning a Yoga class for the first time, the instructor asks you to indicate your expectations. In my experience, these expectations can vary a great deal. You may want a toned body or maybe develop flexibility. You may be looking at relieving a chronic disorder or just having fun with a group of like-minded people. Whatever your expectations, it is important that your instructor understands it and matches your expectations with the right class and grouping.

Secondly, a good Yoga class should be focused. It is impossible to cover the entire spectrum of Yoga over a short period and it may not be realistic to do so. A good Yoga class should be structured in such a way that it meets your current needs. Yoga classes should be grouped into general categories that meet your evolving needs. For example, you may want to do yoga initially to achieve a toned body. After achieving this, you may want to focus on flexibility and progress to breathing or meditation.

Thirdly, the best Yoga classes are conducted in small groups. It is easier for the instructor to monitor everyone in a small class. Mistakes can be caught and rectified easily. This greatly reduces the possibility of injury due to wrong practice of postures. Small groups also allow the instructor to respond effectively to the group’s rhythm and pace. Group dynamics dictate that there are optimum group sizes for a function. There is no magic number to the size of a Yoga class but keeping it small means everyone gets to interact with one another and form strong relationships. Motivation levels can be higher as a result.

Fourthly, a good Yoga class focuses on the correct, techniques and practices. I have seen so many people performing Yoga postures incorrectly and am concerned by it. The authoritative texts mentioned above are a good source for the correct techniques and methods. Many people however do not have the time to read these texts. However, it is important to ensure that the Yoga that is being taught to you is based on these scriptures. You will find the following in a Yoga class that adheres to correct practices:

Minimal body aches, muscle strain or injury.

Breathing techniques are emphasized with the postures.

With some exception, almost every posture has a counter-posture. For example, a forward bend posture will be followed by a backward bend posture.

Finally, you stand to gain the most from a Yoga class when it is fun. Ask yourself, are you having fun in your Yoga class? If you are not, you may not be motivated to practice or attend classes. This would result in a waste of time and money. While it may not be possible to guarantee a high level of fun in every class, it is certainly possible to induce it by:

Having an instructor with a fun personality.

Matching expectations to the right type of class.

Joining the right group class.

Many other factors play a role in the best Yoga class but I have emphasized some of the main areas here. Broadly speaking, a good Yoga class is one where your expectations are met. It is focused on your current needs and consists of a small group (in a group setting). It emphasizes correct techniques and practices based on Yoga’s authoritative texts while maintaining healthy levels of fun.

Preparations to Take Your Practice Outside

As the weather changes, many yogis get excited by the idea of moving their practice outdoors. Along with a beautiful backdrop and fresh air, however, the outdoors can bring bugs, unexpected audiences, and weather surprises that can throw a kink in your plans for outdoor serenity. Whether practicing with a group or on your own, here are a few things to consider in advance to allow for a smooth transition to an outdoor practice.

Outdoor Mat

If practicing outside, your yoga mat might be set up on dirt, grass, gravel, or pavement. While it is good practice to clean your mat after every use, this might not be practical, and you don’t want to track unwanted grime into the studio. Think about what your mat will come into contact with and consider getting a mat that is reserved for outdoor use only.

Sweat Management

Outdoor practice often goes hand in hand with warmer weather, which means you may sweat a bit more than usual. Bring a small hand towel with you to wipe your hands dry throughout your practice. This will allow you to continue your practice as usual without the frustration of slipping and sliding in downward-facing dog. In addition, consider wearing a headband and wristbands to help manage sweat throughout your practice. The type of clothing you wear can also help control your sweat, something like this would be ideal.

Sun Protection.

The application of sunscreen can protect exposed skin from painful burns and permanent sun damage. If you are concerned it might make your hands slippery, opt for a “sport” sunscreen that is designed to not interfere with your grip. If your skin is extra sensitive, perhaps you should wear lightweight, long-sleeved clothing so that your skin is not as exposed. There are also garments designed to block UV rays if you are concerned about permanent damage to your skin.

Shades

Your skin isn’t the only thing that can be affected by the sun; depending on the glare and intensity of sunlight, your eyes may also require an additional layer of protection. Adjust your mat to face a direction where you are less likely to look directly into the sun. In addition, consider wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes and allow you to see better.

Flora and Fauna

Are you affected by allergies? Do you feel like mosquitos are more attracted to you than they are your friends? Are you afraid of stray dogs? We all have unique peculiarities that must be considered when contemplating a change in setting. Anticipate outdoor elements that may potentially get in the way of your practice, and take the necessary precautions, whether allergy eye drops, bug spray, etc.

Choose Your Setting Wisely

If you are practicing in a park or other public outdoors space, remember that it is likely there will be other people there or passing by at some point. Determine how much privacy you need to practice yoga comfortably and choose a location accordingly.

Take the precautions necessary to keep yourself comfortable and enjoy the beautiful opportunity to take your yoga practice outdoors.

Are You Man Enough For Broga?

Simply put, Broga is yoga for bros. However, it is not exclusively for men. Most studios offering Broga also accept women in their classes. But what is the difference between Broga and traditional yoga?

According to founder Matt Miller, Broga is just like yoga but from a male’s point of view. It involves healthy and functional movements. The regular yoga poses are taken up a notch or two, and there are times when they don’t look like yoga at all. Even the names of the postures were changed. Child’s pose became chill-out pose, and wild thing was renamed rock star.

Broga focuses on strength. However, anyone can try it even if they don’t have any experience with yoga or physical training. Miller made Broga to show men that yoga is not just for women. It can also be used to improve physical attributes, and at the same time helps people become better athletes and prevent sporting injuries.

Why Broga

Because of social conditioning, men often dismiss yoga as for girls. Men appear less likely to enjoy the dance, meditation, and other disciplines involved with yoga. That is the reason why founder Matt Miller came up with a system that men more likely to enjoy. And that’s how Broga came to be. It doesn’t make men recite mantras or carry out meditations. While it is designed predominantly for men, there are women who find Broga to be more enjoyable than traditional yoga classes.

Getting Started

Broga sessions start with stretching and breathing exercises. The instructor will ensure that the spine is warmed up before the actual exercises. A session focuses on an area of the body. There are sessions for the back and twists, chest and shoulders, inversions, and hips and legs.

Each session is around an hour long and covers various poses that target the specific area of the day. Instructors of Broga are more instructive compared to yogis. They are hands-on to each and every participant of the session. They make sure that each individual in the class do the poses the right way.

Benefits of Broga

When done right, Broga can improve athletic performance. It allows you to work on specific muscles, and at the same time avoid the one’s not needed for their sport or other activities. It boosts strength, concentration, endurance, stamina, and flexibility.

Broga can also help prevent injuries while working out. There’s a lower chance of getting injured while practicing Broga compared to other workouts, such as crossfit. Yoga works on various parts of the body without putting a lot of stress on them.

Lastly, Broga can help reduce depression as it promotes a healthy mind. Practicing Broga on a regular basis can help lower the effects of depression, encouraging a positive outlook, and improve your way of thinking.

Broga is a style of yoga that you should try. It allows you to work on both your mental and physical health simultaneously. Those who want to stay in shape should consider looking for Broga classes today.