By Charu Shankar
See original article at: www.charuyoga.com/2015/01/11/5-must-haves-for-yoga-class
Yoga is such a non-material thing..I’ll go out on a limb to say.. you really don’t need anything more than yourself. If you are a thrifty Indian like me, you can even do yoga poses on the wooden floor However recently Apsara yoga has become very popular and we are now teaching our 5th location, the village of Norval in Ontario, Canada and students asked what they need to bring to class.
I’d like to share something from someone I had the amazing chance to grow up with, my dad.. He said dancers, singers, teachers all have something in common. They are used to sharing and because of that they get more self-confident and self-aware. But he went further when he said singing is probably one of the least material things you can do. It doesn’t need anything other than yourself. Just you and your instrument – the voice. Maybe if he was alive, he would agree with me, when I say that for yoga, you don’t need anything other than yourself, and your instrument – the mind which you connect to your other instrument your heart and then your soul. And the more you practice yoga, the more you realize with compassion, that inside you is the same energy connecting you to everyone else.
The more yoga you do, the more you realize how connected we all are. And the more you get comfortable speaking to anyone as if they are just you. Coz that’s what they ultimately are.. an extension of yourself.
Often times, my friends are amazed at how easily I strike friendships with perfect strangers. Oh! You have excellent communication skills, they say, that’s why you are able to make friendships. You are outgoing say others, so its easy for you to make friends. Oh, you are born a woman, they say so its easy for people to relate to you. Yes, I’m lucky to be born as a woman, with easy access to intuition.. no question But the bottom line is that I just see everyone the same.. (well mostly everyone, I’m human too some people that are absolutely selfish and use others for their benefit and don’t even stop to see the damage they do.. that gets me.. but that’s another story). I truly see a prime minister and cleaning staff as the same and treat them with the same dignity and the same respect. Likewise people my age or little children get the same level of love and affection, no difference there. And it comes from the heart. So its not communication skills of knowing several languages, it’s the language of the heart that yoga connects me to and that I love to share in class.
So what does that have to do with the topic of my blog post, you are probably wondering? Well as someone who practices yoga, you know I love to share insights that I pick up along the way from various friends-that’s all I was doing.
On to the topic of this post. What do you really need? I repeat, nothing other than yourself. But in the industrialized world we live, we have become comfortable with material goods. And so to the yoga class these 5 things are essential:
1. Yoga mat – bring your own yoga mat if you can. Yoga is a personal experience and a personal journey. In our class we work with opening up our energy centers and get energetic. The mat retains this energy we generate. This is our energy so its best we have our own mat so we do the work on ourselves.
I recently received a welcome gift in the mail. On my last yoga retreat I left the mat behind on the boat and was lost without my mat. Lo and behold my friend asked if I would give her qiyo yoga mat a test drive. I love this yoga mat. The all-natural smell is great. I love the thick padding it offers my body. So I’m protected even while rolling between poses. The other great news for those of us concerned about environmental impact. You’ll be happy to hear that the mat is fully organic and made in a family owned ethical facility. The only piece of improvement I’d offer – is for travel.. I need a lightweight mat for travel so that its easy to lug around. Maybe the next version of the oval mat could be a travel version. Look forward to testing that out. Even as I wrote this post, I got a note from the creators of this yoga mat that they are launching a travel version this year. Yay! Can’t wait to try that out and let you all know what I think. Thanks qiyo yoga for an awesome yoga mat. And creating the only oval all-natural mat in the world. For more info check out their website http://www.ovalyogamat.com
2. Water bottle – you really don’t need a drink during a 60-minute class as you will find a need then to use the washroom. (note: unless you are in a hot yoga class which will certainly need you drink lots of water throughout the class). However if you are the thirsty kind, just bring your water bottle and sip from it every now and then to keep hydrated.
3. Towel – Interesting things have been shared about sweat. A yoga master in my teacher training program would insist that I just wipe down sweat with my hands back into my body.. If you don’t like the idea, feel free to bring your own towel to wipe yourself down.
4. Shawl – This is a must for me. In Apsara yoga we end every class with final cool down. We touch down to the soul with yoga nidra – a powerful yogic technique of auto-suggestion to bring complete silence to the mind, reach the 4th stage of consciousness, deep rest while being alert. To bring relaxation and complete healing to very nerve, every muscle group and every tiny cell in your body. During this process, the body cools down dramatically and its very helpful to regulate body temperature by covering it with a shawl or a scarf. You should have seen me during my yoga teacher training , I even covered my face and went into deep deep rest.
5. Yourself – YOU are the most important part of the yoga class. So even if you don’t bring any of the above, make sure you bring yourself to yoga class. Every single part of you, every flawed part of you, every hurting part of you, every happy part of you, every joyful part of you. Even if you don’t feel like showing up, show up.. You will be amazed at what 60 minutes of yoga can do to your life. It will turn the wheels running again, get you energized. Finally it will give you insights that you can take out into the world to solve your material problems and just generally give you tons of self-confidence and inspire you to lead life with integrity with yourself, others around you, the environment.