Starting a yoga class can be intimidating, especially with the new Sanskrit names to learn and poses to master. Even the usual greeting, “Namaste,” can seem foreign -- other yoga phrases may just sound like gibberish at first. But each step of a yoga class is geared toward being mindful and developing an inner strength as well as outer exercise. By connecting to your breath and taking a moment to greet the instructor, as well as the class ahead of you, you can enjoy the full mind-body benefits of yoga.
Enter the yoga classroom quietly and with bare feet. Do not talk on your cell phone.
Unroll your mat and find an open spot in the classroom. Sit on your mat doing gentle stretches and begin to focus on your breath -- Pranayama is Sanskrit for conscious breathing. Wait until the teacher acknowledges the class with a “Namaste” greeting.
To repeat the greeting, fold your hands together in a prayer-like position over your heart, called anjali mudra. Anjali means “offering” and mudra means “sign” -- this gesture brings your energy to your heart center and shows that you are ready to begin.
Say “Namaste,” a Sanskrit word that can be translated as “The divinity in me bows to the divinity in you." More literally, “nama” is bow, “as” is I and “te” is you.
Close your eyes and slightly bow your head and shoulders forward at the same time you utter “Namaste." In some practices just the hands and the bow are enough of a greeting, as “Namaste” is implied.
Repeat the “Namaste” and bow at the end of class to solidify your practice and to honor your teacher and other yoga students around you.
- For an alternative, place your pressed-together palms in front of your forehead, between your eyes where your third eye is located, instead of at your heart center.
Kelly MacGregor holds bachelor's degrees in news-editorial journalism and ecology/evolutionary biology from the University of Colorado at Boulder. In addition to writing for the "Colorado Engineer Magazine," the "Boulder Daily Camera" and EdNews Parent, MacGregor's work has been picked up by the "Colorado Daily," EdNews Colorado and the "Denver Post."