After a recent Basics class, a first-time yoga student asked me how long I have been practicing yoga. I sheepishly admitted almost four years, and quickly added that I started yoga while pregnant, then took several months off and have been attending sporadically until recently. I started 2018 with a resolution to attend yoga class weekly and I am proud to say proud to say that for the most part I have been able to honor that commitment to myself. Since the beginning of the year, I have noticed remarkable improvement in my yoga practice as well as my stress levels off the mat. While regular, consistent yoga practice has numerous benefits, attending the Basics class has had a meaningful impact on my practice as well.
While the Basics class is the perfect introduction to yoga for beginners, it is an all-levels class that is slower paced and provides ample opportunity for questions and trying out new poses. The small class size facilitates a relaxed learning community. Although I have attended yoga classes for a few years, I have learned something new in every class, from which muscle is targeted by a specific pose to minor tweaks that have made the poses more comfortable for my body. For example, I have long thought that the ultimate goal of downward dog was to develop enough flexibility for your heels to touch the ground. Not only did I learn that you do not want to see your heels, but that the goal of downward dog is for your tailbone to be high in the air and that it is better to bend your knees to accomplish that goal rather than stretching your hamstrings and trying to get your heels to floor. Likewise, during flow classes, I could never figure out why my low lunges did not look the same as my neighbors. Something in my body was not quite right, but my mind could not identify the problem. During one of Natalie’s Basic classes, she pointed out “proposal knee” and I had a light-bulb moment—my back leg should not be at a 90-degree angle (see before and after images above). Similarly, tucking my toes has relieved some of the pressure on my kneecap. Since that “aha” moment, I have become more mindful when executing the pose, allowing me to perform it correctly, safely, and more comfortably. These seemingly small tweaks culminate into a large impact on my practice.
One of my favorite things about the Basics class is the smaller class size, which fosters learning and cOMmunity. During class, Natalie encourages questions, often reminding the class that if you have a question that there is a good chance someone else has the same question. This format encourages rapport among students and frequently breaks the proverbial ice. As an added benefit, knowing that everyone is in the same boat, so to speak, can make trying new poses less intimidating and more fun, such as supported headstands and arm balances. The opportunity to play with poses also makes yoga generally more fun and lighthearted. Another one of my favorite things about the class is how the intimacy of the class allows for more individualized attention from the instructor, as well as the opportunity to get to know your fellow Flowgis.
The Basics class is about being brave and taking risks, whether you are brand new to yoga or a seasoned practitioner who wants to refine your practice. Although continual practice will not result in perfection, the Basic class can provide the building blocks for a strong foundation.
— Amanda Kennon