Yoga can sometimes produce the exact opposite of its desired effect. The truth is that it can be intimidating, especially if you are new to practicing it. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Asheville Community Yoga is a donation-based nonprofit that is open to all. Teachers donate their time and offer their classes as a form of service, according to Emily Haaksma, associate director of the organization. Classes are free for anyone who is unable to afford to pay, but for those who can, a donation of $5 – $15 is recommended.
If you have considered exploring yoga and don’t know where to start, Haaksma has some advice. Start with looking for a class that fits your schedule, register, and then simply show up.
“The nice thing about yoga at Asheville Community Yoga is you don’t need to bring much, ” she said. “We have mats available that are really nice and that are cleaned after every use by the students. ”
The studio also has props, including bolsters (“big cushions, ” Haaksma said), blankets and blocks.
“Don’t get stressed out – for the people who might not know what those things are, ” she said. “The teacher lets you know how to use those to really help the ground be closer to you and make yourself more comfortable in postures. You don’t really need to bring anything other than yourself. ”
Don’t know what to wear? Just choose something comfortable that allows for movement.
“Something that folks would wear to the gym is usually a good start, something that you’re going to be able to move around in and that’s not going to slip in an uncomfortable way, ” Haaksma said. “Sweatpants are great. Leggings are great – a T-shirt, a tank top. ”
Leave your shoes in one of the cubbies when you arrive at the studio. While you can practice in socks, Haaksma said the recommendation is to practice barefoot because it is less slippery.
“When folks get here for the first time, sometimes if they’re not super familiar with the particular practice of yoga, I recommend that they set up in the back from the room, ” Haaksma stated. “And of course , they’ll be focused on their own practice and their own experience of the class, but that way, if they get a cue that they’re a little confused about, they can look up and look around the room and kind of get a general sense from their community members of the way to do that posture, just in case they missed the cue or are still a little bit confused. ”
If it still seems overwhelming, Haaksma said she welcomes questions.
“You know, people have this idea probably from Instagram and from different magazines that you have to look a particular way to do yoga – that you have to be super fit, you need to have some background in other types of working out or fitness – and you really don’t, particularly for gentle classes, ” she said. “They are gentle and so there are opportunities to feel more like your body is working out once you get the basics in a gentle class. It’s not that some of the postures won’t be challenging, but folks who haven’t done a lot of physical movement, and don’t have a ton of mobility and maybe can’t touch your toes, that’s totally normal, and they definitely are really well suited for a gentle class. ”
Things to know – note that if you are attending class at a different studio room, you should ask about their policies in advance.
● Haaksma said first-time guests always ask about parking. There is a large gravel lot behind the building.
● Try to arrive 10 – 15 minutes before the class time, so you can get set up in your spot. Haaksma mentioned there is a 10-minute grace period if you are running late.
● Come to class hydrated. Heated coils in the floor mean water bottles should not be near your mat.
● Haaksma said Asheville Community Yoga uses an online signup system for classes. Using the phone app provides the best user experience. Need help with that? Just ask at the front desk.
Look for the type of class that suits your needs: mild, prenatal, for kids, and many more. Visit ashevillecommunityyoga. org