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Information for students about Yoga



When you start something new, sometimes it is helpful to read a bit about it, so you understand a bit about it. Sometimes it is not. It really depends on how you process new information. For every person new to yoga, the understanding from what they read will be different. So it is in the class itself. Everyone experiences yoga differently - as unique individuals.  Given this, it is impossible to be prescriptive about how yoga will influence and effect you - but there are some general principles and information that are the same for everyone, regardless of experience.  So if you would like to read a bit about yoga on. If not, why not give a class or two a go, then maybe come back to this article a bit later on...? 


Beginning to practice yoga can be quite daunting for some people. Some of the poses are a bit complex and complicated, others are very straightforward.  There is a lot to take in during your first few yoga classes, least not where the loo is and where to put your shoes! 

Hopefully this article will be something you can refer to at any time, I think it is best read with a cuppa and a choccy biscuit! 


It has been written with people who are thinking about going to a yoga class for the first time in mind, as well as new or inexperienced students.  


What is Yoga? 

Yoga originates from India and dates back to around 3000 BC or even earlier and is one of the oldest methods known for self-development. It is becoming increasingly popular in today’s stressful world to help keep the mind, body and spirit healthy. Yoga literally means “to yoke or unite”; the essence of Yoga is explored through a variety of ways such as stretching in various postures/positions (asanas) breathing techniques (pranayama), using gaze (drishdi), concentration (nidra), relaxation and meditation.


There are different types and styles of Yoga. Lochside Yoga teaches a form of Hatha Yoga (Ha/tha means Sun/moon) which is aimed at creating a sense of balance, both literally and metaphorically, in the yoga practice and ultimately in you.

Think of it as “Keep Fit for the Soul”!


Who can practice yoga?

Anyone! Yoga has no age, gender, size or ability barriers and it doesn’t matter at all if you can’t touch your toes or feel stiff and inflexible. There are always ways and means to modify a posture. It is important to let Gillian know if you have a particular ailment or issue for health and safety reasons, but that won’t mean that you can’t practice ~ you will be taught and encouraged to adapt or vary the poses.


Please discuss with Gillian if you have any of the following:

¨       Back or neck problems

¨       High or low blood pressure

¨       Any hearing or visual impairment

¨       Recent operations or injury

¨       Diabetes

¨       Epilepsy

¨       Recent or current pregnancy

¨       Recent miscarriage


All information will be kept in the strictest of confidence.


What should I bring to Yoga? 

A yoga mat if you have one, and a blanket or fleece to keep you warm during relaxation, perhaps a cushion to sit on. You might also need a bottle of water to sip during the class. Mats, blocks and blankets are available to borrow at all of Lochside Yoga classes, but it is much nicer to use your own equipment if you have it. Bringing a smile helps as well! 


Is there anything I have to do in preparation for class?

Please wear loose and comfy clothing, easily managed layers are best, as you will warm up and cool down quickly.

If you are coming to a morning class, have a light breakfast at least an hour beforehand such as a hot drink, toast/oatcakes and a small banana. Likewise for the afternoon class, have a sandwich and some fruit for a midmorning snack or an early light lunch. You can always treat yourself to a nice snack afterwards! 


What can I expect to experience in a Lochside Yoga class?

The class will be a mixture of postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranyama) and relaxation. They will be aimed at helping you create a sense of well-being and a feeling of calm. Each class will be slightly different each time, for example, some classes may have more physical activity than others, but there will always be these 3 elements involved.


There may sometimes be an opportunity to use small items of yoga equipment, to work with a partner, and to develop your own ‘self practice’, which can be used to support you during class holidays or if you want to do more yoga at home.


Yoga is non competitive, we are all different and it doesn’t matter what the person in front or next to you can do or looks like, it only matters what you can do and how you can be. It is unlikely that any of us will achieve a perfect pose, but what it feels like to you is more important than what it looks like to others.


You will be encouraged to listen to your own body, proceed with care and caution, go at your own pace and not do anything that you feel is beyond your present capability. By doing this, over time, you will learn to feel where your ‘edge’ is, what/where your personal (physical and psychological) challenges are ~ and how to address them.



You are not obliged to do all of the postures and exercises. If you don’t feel comfortable with them, there is always an alternative! Equally, if there are poses that you really like doing, or have an interest or ‘theme’ that you would like to explore, please let Gillian know. 


You may experience a bit of stiffness or discomfort a day or two after the class, in places where you have stretched your body, but this is normal until you get used to the poses. Stretching certain parts of your body can sometimes be a bit uncomfortable, but you should never stretch so much it hurts and if you are too sore for your own comfort afterwards, you will know not to go so far next time.


What benefits can I expect?

It depends how much yoga practice you do and it is important not to have unrealistic expectations, but you should be able to feel a positive difference after just a few weeks of regular practice.


Yoga can help develop and increase stamina and flexibility, strength in both mind and body and self-confidence. The weight bearing exercises can help build bone mass and this helps prevent osteoporosis.  Some of the breathing techniques are very relaxing, you can use them to help you sleep or relax, and the most of the postures help improve circulation.


Some students notice how yoga helps them to sleep better and to develop a healthier sleep pattern, to relax more easily and be calmer in stressful situations. You can also develop a more positive attitude or outlook about things and be able to cope differently when faced with difficult issues.


Yoga gives you the opportunity to listen to your own body and really connect with yourself, you are constantly aware of how you feel, how far you can stretch and when to let go. The whole process helps you develop awareness and apply this to your everyday life, which in turn helps you feel better about yourself.


Are there any contraindications and limitations?

Yes, it is not a good idea to practice yoga when you feel very unwell, for example if you have a heavy cold or are having difficulty breathing, or if you have extreme joint or back pain. You can still get some benefit, however, from using some of the techniques for breathing and relaxation if you don’t feel well. Some positions and exercises, when done gently, are particularly helpful for headaches, stomach ache, sore back etc.


Here are a few common sense precautions:

¨       You should never do anything so much that it causes extreme discomfort or pain. Be aware of your own normal range of movement and do not overstretch.

¨       If any pose or posture causes difficulty in breathing, release the pose immediately.

¨       Allow at least 2 hours after eating a heavy meal before doing Yoga, as it is never a good idea to exercise on a full stomach.

¨       If you have high blood pressure or vertigo, do not keep your head lowered towards the floor for any length of time.

¨       If you have varicose veins or circulatory problems, do not sit or stand in the same position too long.

¨       If you have lower back problems, always bend the knees before coming up or moving forward.

¨      It is wise to avoid ‘inversions’ (positions where your legs are above your head) for the first couple of days of a heavy period.


Some words that you will hear in a class and hopefully become familiar with:

Most Yoga asanas will have both Western and Sanskrit names for them. It doesn’t matter which you know them as, but the clue to what position is, is usually in the name! For example:


      ¨      Mountain (Tadasana) ~ standing tall and proud. The base for all standing poses.    


¨      Warrior (Virabhadrasana) ~ a standing pose, ready for action! Good for balance and confidence.

¨      Cobra (Bhujangasana) ~ lying on your front, raising head and chest. A strong, but safe back bend.

¨   Cat (Marjariasana) ~ supporting yourself on hands and knees, flexing your back in time with your breath. It’s very soothing and meditative and can be used  very effectively for backache and stomach problems. 

¨      Pose of the Child (Balasana) ~ an inward looking pose, often used as a resting pose, to recoup some energy.

¨      Namaste ~  a salutation to start or finish poses, to wish you well or say goodbye, generally offered with hands in prayer position in front of your chest or heart. This is offered as a sign of respect. Literally meaning 'I bow to you', it is a way of honouring each other on meeting and reminds us that that our ego is no greater than anyone elses.

¨      Ohm Shanti ~ wishing you peace.


I hope you enjoy your yoga and look forward to seeing you in a class soon.

Namaste, Gillian xx