Starting yoga for the first time can be intimidating simply because it’s different than your usual workout… It’s not just picking up a weight or hoping on to a piece of equipment.
I remember the first time I attended a yoga class. The whole class had a flow; I was looking around trying to figure out where to put what hand and what leg into the sky at what angle. Needless to say – I didn’t go back. There was nothing I liked about it.
At least not until I discovered hot yoga – I love steam rooms! I love how your skin just glows, how much lighter you feel after. And then I thought, running an hour on a treadmill to burn “X” amount of calories or hanging out in a steam room, getting more beautiful skin, just doing some poses to burn “X” amount of calories in an hour… I had to try again!
So I tried again, this time at another company. The instructor at this location and the way she taught our yoga “practice” was so much different than the first time; she asked who was new, she explained to only do what you can, listen to your body and lay down when you need a breath. She broke down each of the poses, she came around to make sure we were doing them right, adjust us when we weren’t. She taught us how to get into a pose, how to come out of them and how to push yourself further when you were comfortable.
The first few classes I still felt silly and self-conscious but once I was able to let go of my ego, listen to my body and clear my mind… a lot of the wobbliness dissolved and I was completely hooked <3
Today we meet with Annu Gaidhu: Certified Yoga Instructor, University Student and Pageant Queen <3
What’s your zodiac sign?
What’s your educational background?
I am currently in my last year completing my undergrad for Child and Youth Care at Ryerson University. I have also completed my 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training alongside Health and Wellness Coaching.
Your favourite quote?
Through my personal journey I believe the words of Buddha resonate with me best:
“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future. Concentrate the mind in the present moment”.
I love this because I believe that each and every moment presents us with an opportunity to choose and see the perfection in our current circumstances. Too often we are consumed by the to “do lists” in life that we forget to embrace the current moment and to allow ourselves to let go, be free and detach ourselves from worries and stressors. We might not be where we want to be at times, but I believe we are precisely where we are supposed to be.
Describe a typical day for us:
I always like to start my day off, as I tell my students, by setting an intention for myself for the day. Something I want to accomplish, an idea I want to challenge or simply a risk I want to take – I make sure to acknowledge it. Asides from my busy schedule with school, I make sure to take some time out for family, friends and some down time for me throughout. There isn’t a specific regime I have everyday, its always a new day filled with new opportunities, just the way i like it!
What do you love about teaching yoga?
For me the greatest gift you can give someone is to show them how to love themselves. I love teaching yoga because through its practice an energy that lives inside each person can be summoned. It can bring the best version of yourself to the forefront. I believe we all have a unique purpose here in this world, something that is worth tuning into and paying attention to. Through my teaching I can bring something good into the world and inspire another human being. That is the greatest gift of all. My message is simple: I encourage getting out of your comfort zone and to just breathe. It is easy to focus purely on what comes easy to us and what we are good at. Things are difficult for a reason and we hold the most tension in the parts of the body we don’t usually focus on because we shy away from pain. Know what pain is and acknowledge it is here and needs to be here; it is how we move forward. The resistance you feel is important. Let this go when you step on your mat and focus on your least favorite poses as they are the keys to the evolution of your soul.
What do you love about practising yoga?
What I love about practising yoga is that it allows for an hour during my day for what I like to call “mindful me time”. I get an hour to let go, detach away from society and just focus on myself. Anything that I am holding on to that was stressing me out or weighing on my mind, I use this time to acknowledge it and then begin to let it go. Each class is an empty canvas that I can physically, mentally and spiritually work together to strengthen that unique beauty we all have inside of us.
Has it taught you anything you wouldn’t have expected?
Definitely! My path to yoga has allowed me to discover who I am. Through my first yoga class three years ago I was amazed at how much balance and ease that one class brought to my life. I wasn’t really a person who would go to the gym consistently, but I realized very quickly that for that one hour it was just me, myself and my mat. Also, there were no weights or machines that I had to pretend I knew how to use haha. I was able to I discovered a practice that left me feeling grounded, confident and better able to deal with stress.
What’s your “Zen”?
My zen is doing what I love with the people I love.
How is yoga beneficial?
Yoga is beneficial in many ways. Yoga is aimed to unite the body, mind and spirit. It helps you raise awareness around your body’s posture, alignment and patterns of movement. You have an environment in which you can completely de-stress and start to feel healthier, be more energetic, happier and peaceful.
Yoga as spiritual practice or yoga to get in shape?
I believe when you are on your mat it becomes your own personal practice unique to no one else but yourself. Whether that is for a spiritual purpose, to get in shape or even both! You make it what you want and kick ass while doing it!
Any advice for the ones that have never tried yoga?
Yoga is definitely something I would recommend everyone to try at least once in their life. One thing I always encourage others to be mindful of is not to pay too much attention to what the pose is “supposed” to look like. What you should be focusing on is how your body is feeling and only taking it to wherever is comfortable for you. Its your own practice, listen to how your body is feeling. Don’t be what you are told to be, don’t be what you tell yourself to be. Be what you know is true to your heart. Also, drink LOTS OF WATER especially if it’s a hot yoga class!
What’s essential to get started?
Some tips I feel are essential to get started for your first yoga class would be:
1. Always remember yoga is suitable and beneficial for all individuals! Despite your age or fitness level— so when you go into your first class, don’t be intimidated because it is your own practice. No one is judging you so don’t let your ego guide you!
2. Choose a basic yoga flow class if its your first time. Don’t jump into a power yoga class or classes that are more advanced. Flow classes still give you the workout you desire but focus more on basic asanas (poses) as opposed to more complex ones.
3. Be at class at least 15 minutes before it begins. This way you have time to set up your mat, change and find a spot you feel comfortable in, without disrupting others in the room.
4. It is extremely important to speak to the instructor before class if you have any injuries or medical concerns so that they are aware. This way if any modifications need to be made, or if any personal recommendations need to be made, you have the opportunity to address them beforehand.
5. Wear loose clothing! This is your time to sweat so wear something you’re comfortable in. Bring lots of water so you can remain hydrated. And if you don’t own your own yoga mat, generally all studios have communal ones to rent so don’t worry!
6. Eat light before class! It’s not a good idea to do practice with an empty stomach because at the end of the day, you may start feeling light headed as the body and mind requires fuel. If you want to eat a quick snack before the class, you can grab yogurt, fruit or vegetables. A lightly filled stomach will provide you a better edge to get into some poses, and give you the energy you need.
7. It is extremely important for silence when participating in the class. Maintaining silence in the room is difficult when someone’s cell is ringing—plus it’s distracting for your fellow yogis. Be mindful of the other students sharing their love and energy with you.
8. The last and most important tip I feel is essential for your first class is to just breathe through it all, be happy and embrace your practice to the best you can make it. Happy Learning!
And Lastly, What’s your favourite yoga pose?
I love king pigeon pose ! one of my absolute favorites. Hard at first but well worth the practice.