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Preparing for Yoga or Barre

by Dana Short, CPT

Are you anxious about trying something new — maybe in a place you’ve never been with no one you know?! Well, don’t worry…Learning what to expect and knowing how to prepare for the experience can help you feel grounded & ready.

 

If you’ve never been to a yoga or barre class, or if you have never been to Spirit’s studios, you definitely chose the right place! Spirit’s hallmark is a warm, welcoming community where we want you to feel “at home.” So, let’s get you ready so that you can make the most of your first class!

There’s nothing worse than feeling rushed, especially when trying something for the first time. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the studio! This will lessen your stress so that you know you’re in the right place AND it will give you the opportunity to enter the studio, get checked in at the front desk, meet your instructor and discuss any injuries, stow your belongings in the cubbies under the benches in each lobby, get a spot in the studio, arrange your props, and change/use the restroom if necessary.

 

Make sure you’re feeling comfortable in your body and bring everything you need. Wear clothes in which you can move. For yoga, bring a mat, perhaps a towel to put on the mat to keep your hands from slipping (a common issue in heated classes as palms can be sweaty!), and water. In addition, if you’re attending a Yin class, feel free to bring your own props if you want to be extra-comfy. For barre, if you have sticky socks, please bring/wear them as they are very helpful in barre workouts (and required for barre bounce for safety). You also may want to bring water to barre and, if you are attending a heated barre class, a small hand towel.

 

Feel free to ask the instructor about any props you may need. In fact, the barre studio has an acrylic board in the lobby with props listed and the instructor checks off what students can grab before each class. In both studios, extra props are at the back of the studio, on shelves or in baskets. Also note that both studios have water coolers just outside of the restroom (also located in the back of each of the studios) so you can fill your water bottle with cool, filtered water.

 

If you are nervous or self-conscious about others watching you, perhaps choose a spot in the back of the room so that you can have other students to follow during class. In both studios, the front of the studio is the wall with the full mirrors, so the back of the class would be against the wall with no mirrors.

 

In the yoga studio, mats are set up in 3 rows on the wood floor with the small end of the front of your mat facing the front mirrors. In the barre studio, which is fully carpeted, there is a front barre & back barre. You will choose a spot between two brackets. While doing movements not requiring students to hold the barre, everyone will face the mirrors. At other times, you may be facing your barre or be on profile, depending on the exercise and the instructor’s directions

What to expect during your Yoga class...

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Yoga is a mind/body practice using fluid movements and coordinated breathing to increase your flexibility, reduce anxiety, increase clarity of mind, improve depression, increase muscular strength, improve sleep, and give you better balance, posture, cardiovascular health & immunity. There are many different styles of yoga: some are more vigorous and athletic while others are more soothing & rejuvenating. Be sure to select the one that feels right for your body at any given time.

 

Feel free to get props to make your practice more accessible and comfortable. There are yoga straps, blocks, bolsters, and blankets available in the studio. Feel free to grab any you may need. Yoga straps can be wrapped around your feet to make reaching them easier. Blocks may be placed on/next to your mat while in a pose where your hand doesn’t quite meet the floor. Bolsters & blankets may be used during savasana to make you more relaxed and comfortable.

 

If you’ve never done yoga before, your instructor may lead you through a short intention-setting at the beginning of class, perhaps having you start your yogic breathing to really attune yourself to your body. Then, they may lead you through a slower-moving flow to get you warmed up and eventually into a more “breath to movement” flow where you are inhaling or exhaling each time you change positions. Don’t worry if you feel like you are not as fast as other students or if you may not be able to do every pose. Yoga is an individual experience and it is perfectly fine to rest if you need to do so at any time. Yoga usually ends with a savasana, where you are able to lie on your back, take in all the benefits of your practice, and quiet the mind. Your instructor may provide soothing music during class, or even use sound bowls to heighten your relaxation. Your instructor will guide you out of savasana (and if you fell asleep, it means you succeeded in relaxing your body & mind!) and you can grab a yoga wipe from the props area to wipe down any props you’ve used, return them, and return to the lobby to exit.

What to expect during your Barre class...

Barre is a low-impact exercise incorporating a ballet barre and uses small movements to work the muscles to give you increased strength & endurance, reduce stress, improve mood, increase focus, improve posture, increase balance & coordination, tone muscles, increase flexibility, and even reduce inflammation and improve the lymphatic system.

 

For upper body work, barre incorporates small dumbbells and high repetitions. There are 2, 3, and 5 pound weights at every barre spot. Occasionally, instructors will have students challenge themselves with a heavier weight if desired. There are 8 and 10 pound weights for this purpose, or for those who simply want advanced weight movements.

 

There are also a variety of other props used during barre, including a resistance loop found on the barre bracket at each spot, as well as a Pilates ball on the weights at the barre. In the “extra props” area at the back of class, there are also yoga straps, yoga blocks, Pilates circles, flat resistance bands and gliders. There’s no need to grab any “extra” props unless the instructor advises you to do so (or if it was indicated on the acrylic board in the lobby). Sometimes the only items needed during class are the props already at the barre.

If you see mats in the studio, there is no need to grab one before class. The instructor will cue you when to grab the mat and if you have it early, it may be in your way during more dynamic movements.

 

If you’ve never done barre before, it is a low-impact but high-energy class where there will be up-tempo music to keep you motivated. The instructor will have a microphone so that you can be sure to hear cueing above the music. Once class begins, the instructor will direct you to take a few steps away from your barre and face the front mirrors and will start with a dynamic warm up, getting your muscles ready and your blood flowing. Following a warm up, the instructor will proceed to move through every muscle group in the body, working each in turn and following the small muscle movements with stretching for that particular muscle group. Your instructor will offer modifications in case you have any injuries, but as with yoga, barre is an individualized workout so please feel free to listen to your body and change up anything so that it feels right for you. Please note that it is completely normal for your muscles to shake during a barre class. They are not used to the tiny movements you are doing, so that is their way of telling you they are fatigued!

 

After moving through each area of the body and stretching, your barre workout will end with a final stretch where you’ll slow down the breathing and lengthen all the muscles that you worked. Afterwards, your instructor will have left a wipe at your spot. Please wipe down your mat and any props used and place props back where you found them. You can leave the mat to dry on the floor as the instructor will put it away prior to the next class. You can then return to the lobby to exit.

 

And if you’re new to working out — or at least this type of class — you may be sore the next day. But don’t let that stop you because the best thing for sore muscles is additional movement. Before you know it, you’ll be getting stronger and be able to challenge yourself in ways you never dreamed you could! Visit Spirit Yoga & Barre to sign up for your class today!

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