Sure, when you’re in downward dog you’re not supposed to be thinking about anything but your breath. But perhaps in between asanas you have found yourself wondering: what is she really thinking? What would your yoga instructor like you to know that would both improve your practice and help your teacher give you better instruction? Some of the insights may surprise you:
1. Wear What Makes You Feel Good
Choose clothing that lets you move without restriction and is comfortable, whether that’s leggings or sweats, tanks or tees, or whatever floats your boat. One tip: Give your outfit a quick once-over before heading out the door. Discovering an embarrassing hole in your leggings as you’re heading into downward-facing dog can be distracting for you and the rest of the class. Think about whether or not you’ll be going upside-down during class; you may want to be able to tuck in your shirt, or just wear something that won’t ride up.
2. Set Aside the Accessories
While a string of mala beads may help keep you centered off the mat, they can actually interfere with postures during class, and worse, can break and scatter. Earrings that dangle can pose a risk, too: your hoops can get caught on and rip your clothing.
3. Consider Your Scent
Heat and movement intensify smells, so what seemed like a light spritz of your signature scent at home can quickly become overpowering when you break a sweat.
4. Listen to Your Own Body
This isn’t always easy — especially if you have a competitive streak or tend to be hard on yourself — but as much as possible, turn your focus inward, and tune out your classmates. It’s easy to get caught up in trying to hit a deeper backbend than the person next to you, getting in that mindset can leave you injured or angst-ridden.
5. Talk to the Teacher About Injuries
Always clue your teacher in if you’ve got any sensitive or hurt areas, and never power through postures that hurt. Make adjustments as needed for your body and drop into child’s pose if you need a break, but don’t move to your own groove since it may confuse others around you.
6. Just. Be. Present.
Your yoga instructor is there to help you get the most out of your class, and yeah, they definitely notice if you’re not really paying attention. Checking out (or, um, chatting or checking your phone) during class means you could be missing important instructions or inviting injuries in challenging postures, not to mention simply losing focus in class. If you find your mind wandering, close your eyes for a moment, return your attention to your teacher’s voice, and listen to your breath. That practice of returning to the moment is a good exercise — and one of the main goals of the practice of yoga.