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Yoga - General Practice Guidelines

Whenever you practice any sport or physical discipline like yoga, you will be challenged to do things with your body that you may not have done before, thus making it possible for you to get injured. It is therefore important to adhere carefully to all guidelines and precautions below.

I would like you to enjoy your time in the class and gain a valuable tool that will have a massive impact on your physical and mental well being. Be respectful and your flexibility, strength and peace of mind will reward you.

Consult your doctor: If you are pregnant or have any kind of medical problems/injuries and have had any problems or injuries in the past that may adversely be affected by exercise (eg neck, back, knees, shoulders, heart and high blood pressure etc). Please consult your doctor before practicing yoga.

Yoga is great for pregnancy and moms to be are more than welcome, but caution should be followed throughout the pregnancy on what you can and can't do. It is important that you do not get overheated, so position yourself next to ample fresh air or an open window. Dependent on where you are in your pregnancy, certain postures will need to be adapted for you to avoid discomfort, injury and keep you and your baby safe. Please let me know if you are pregnant before the lesson starts so that I can assist and help you during your yoga session.

Eat no less than 1-2 hours and hydrate well by drinking water both before and after class. It is better to avoid drinking during the class though. If you are hungry, a small snack such as fruit or a yogurt should keep you going until afterwards. Yoga on a full stomach is not beneficial and can be painful and uncomfortable.

Wear loose comfortable clothing that you can stretch in eg. Leggings, track pants, shorts and a fitted t-shirts or vest tops. There are special yoga clothes, but there is no need to spend lots of money on these. Be mindful that baggy clothes can cause embarrassment or entanglement problems during asanas and be a hindrance to offer assistance to you if your alignment and posture is hard to see. Yoga is practised in bare feet, but you may wish to wear socks for relaxation at the end to keep your feet warm. It's also worthwhile bringing a jumper, fleece or even a blanket as well.

What to bring:
Yourself, some water and money to pay for your lesson. Cash or cheques are accepted. You can also bring a yoga mat and a blanket, but this is not essential because mats, blankets, blocks and straps are supplied in class.

Always turn up to 5-10 minutes before the start. Late arrivals disturb other students and the energy and flow of the class. Please also come to class clean and free of strong scents and ensure your mobile phones are switched off.

Listen to your body:
In order to achieve the most benefits of your yoga practice, always listen to your body. Be very aware of how your body feels as you practice the asanas. Go only as far as you can without straining or overstretching. You should never force your body into any position, nor should you allow someone else to do so. Be responsible for your own well-being and never do any postures that make you feel uncomfortable. Gently stretch the boundaries of your limitations.

Coordinating movement with breath creates harmony in the body and mind, and this harmony is responsible for much of yoga's benefits. If your breathing isn't relaxed, your body can't relax into the poses. If your body isn't relaxed, your mind can't relax. And if your mind isn't relaxed, you can't draw the full benefits from your yoga practice. Breathing at a slow relaxed pace can lower your heart rate. It also brings fresh oxygen to the lungs, and in turn, the rest of the body. Breathing instructions will be given during each asana. A handy gauge is that you take 4-5 deep slow breaths in each pose. More experienced students can hold for longer.

Yoga Tips for Safe Stretching
Try to arrive early to class and take time to centre yourself. Begin by establishing breath awareness. Find your rhythm and start with gentle stretches. Stretching too deeply too soon triggers your muscles' protective reflexes and sets the stage for strains and pulls.

Ground your asana with strong lines, solid foundation and alignment. You will benefit more each asana has to offer.

Be aware of your breath, it indicates your mental and physical state. Breath that is shallow and erratic, are warning signs. Back off and ask for assistance.

If you feel too weak or shaky in a pose, come out of it. Gradually you will build up your strength and be able to hold the pose longer.

Don't strain. If you feel any sharp twinges or pain during the asana you've gone too far. Be sure to come out of the pose immediately and rest.

Try not to hold your breath between postures and take 1-3 breaths to quiet the mind.

Go at your own pace and your own limitations. Everybody is at different stages of their yoga practice. Competing or overdoing to reach a goal or impress others can cause you to over stretch or twist further than you should, which can lead to injuries.

If you are practicing with an injury, it is important that you move into the poses slowly and gently because injured tissue is very fragile and susceptible to re-injury. Stay focused on the breath and the sensations of the stretch. If a yoga pose causes any pain, tingling, or numbness, stop immediately.

Be patient with yourself, yoga is an ongoing life-long pursuit rather than a single accomplishment. Enter each asana with mindfulness not wilfulness. It takes time to gain the many lasting benefits yoga offers. If you are impatient and try to force your body to do what it's not ready for, you may get injured.

At the end of your practice it is important to take 5 to 10 minutes to relax your body, so please try not to run off at this stage because it is the most important part to your yoga practice. Savasana (Corpse pose) relaxation is a state of total receptivity where through deep breathing the body can replenish and rejuvenate itself, as the natural potential of the body to heal itself comes into play.
Yoga - General Practice Guidelines

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