When I teach a beginner’s yoga class, the most essential tool comes down to one simple instruction: Breathe. Easy, yes? But just think – whether you’re taking an exotic cruise vacation or spending a quiet weekend at home – how long does it take you before your mind settles down and you’re able to deeply relax and exhale?
Most people would say they need at least a full day (or a few cocktails!) before they can completely let go and get into the vacation flow. But if you try a beginner yoga class aboard Norwegian Cruise Line, you'll find that with some gentle, guided breath work and body movement, you can instantly and organically recharge and reset your mind- with no prior experience needed.
If you’re seeking sweat-inducing, heart-pulsing physical activity, no worries! Norwegian Cruise Line offers every type of fitness option, from rock climbing to plank walking. However, if you truly want to expand your horizons, and stretch your mind and muscles, an onboard beginner's yoga class may be your most savoured onboard amenity. Here are a few tips to assist your first class.
Abandon all worries when you unfurl your yoga mat for the first time. "I can't do yoga," people say. "I'm just not flexible." Fear not! The only flexibility required for yoga is an open mind. When meeting a first-time student, I find that apprehensions come from what is unfamiliar. The new ways of breathing, stretching, and just sitting still is a foreign concept for most us; we're more accustomed to contact sports and aerobics routines. Just remember that everyone in class is most likely a newbie, and in the same boat as you (no pun intended!).
Check your Baggage
Yoga's greatest benefit is that it teaches us how to focus on the present moment and quiet our mind. If you think your brain is too active to slow down, all the more reason to try a yoga class while you're cruising, far away from your to-do list at home. You also have a huge advantage over anyone attempting yoga on dry land: your captivating ocean view. There's a fancy Sanskrit term we use in class, drishti, which means "focus." When you set your full concentration and presence on one object, your mind is automatically drawn into the present moment and out of it's multi-task, frenetic thinking.
Explore the Unknown
In competitive sports and traditional exercise, we're conditioned to pushing ourselves to our absolute limits, puffing and panting our way through pushups and Stairmasters. No wonder so many people dread going to the gym! Yoga, however, is all about keeping our eyes on our own mat (or the ocean, as the case may be). Pay no attention to how you're neighbour is balancing in tree pose. Come back to your drishti, and you're likely to amaze how long you hold your balance on one foot.
In yoga, we are fond of exploring our personal edge, that sweet spot where you learn not to push yourself too far or to shrink back from a challenge. It's a terrific metaphor to take off the mat and integrate in your everyday life, once you land back home.
Cruise on Self Care
If you suffer physical limitations, or have concerns about injury, advise your teacher before class. He/she can show you simple physical adjustments to your poses, if needed.
However, even those of us in strong health with regular exercise routines may experience some muscle stiffness the day after class. After all, yoga is teaching you to move, open, and hold your body in new ways.
Fortunately, you’re in the perfect place to soothe first-timer soreness: After class, take a short stroll to Norwegian’s sauna or steam room. However, my favourite compliment to yoga class is the consummate care served at Mandara Spa. Here, you can extend your yoga bliss with a bodywork session or indulge in the Thermal Suite Pass, the ultimate hydrotherapy treatment.
Afterwards, I suggest testing out the newfound nirvana of "yoga brain." Head directly to the lounge deck, slowly breathe in fresh air salt air as you mindfully smack the salt off your lips and savour your margarita. Exhale deeply as you direct your drishti into the deep, blue sea.