Joining an Ashtanga yoga class for the first time can be a bit intimidating. Especially so, if you choose to start with a Mysore session. Here’s what it was like for me, my first time at Ashtanga Yoga Phoenix, and why I'm hooked! Along with some tips on what to expect during your first visit.
A quick google search will help in understanding the differences in Ashtanga, to any other style of yoga you may have practiced. What you will find is that in Ashtanga, much like Vinyasa, you will follow a specific set or sequence of poses which are to be synchronized to deep or "Ujjayi" like breathing. Each breath paired with its posture is intentional and meant to deepen your practice. The key difference is that the same set or sequence of postures is practiced each and every time. As you master certain poses and chunks of the full series, additional poses are added.
During my experience, what this meant for me, was to very mindfully flow through my practice. I was made very aware of both my placement during poses as well as my breathing. My first class was a Mysore session. Mysore is a non-guided class. Instructors are present to provide you with a sequence fit for you, and to help with adjustments. If you are accustomed to guided practice, as most of us are, this is about the time when you may doubt the style of yoga. However if you push through your first Mysore session, you will come out feeling, probably somewhat confused… but also, having a serene connection to self, as you have basically tuned all others out during this personal flow. You will feel a sense of accomplishment, having not played the metaphoric game of Simon Says, that is your typical yoga class. And if you are anything like me, you will want to come back as it is both a physically and mentally challenging practice.
Like with any other “workout” I would suggest being well hydrated before you begin your practice. You’d be surprised how much the body warms, and releases, just by breathing intently paired with the postures. If you have one, bring along your Yoga Mat towel or Mysore Rug. If you are a first timer to AYP Yoga Studio, arrive 15 minutes early so that they can get you going by your desired start time. Expect to be corrected. A lot of adjustments are given both orally and physically. Egos are to be left at the door. At first it may feel a bit nit picky, but as you improve you will welcome these adjustments, trust me! After my first class I definitely wanted more of this refreshing challenge, and I hope you will too.
~ Mel Franco
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