how to prepare for your yoga class

Arrive on time, and prepared to practice.

Please arrive with time to spare so that you can settle on your mat, silence your phone, and be ready to practice with the rest of the class.

Wear comfortable clothes – and dress in layers.

There is no yoga “uniform”. Wear what feels comfortable to you. I see a lot of leggings and tank tops on Instagram/TikTok but remember those are yoga influencers. As practitioners, we wear clean clothes that are comfortable to move in! Maybe leggings, maybe tank tops, maybe not. Wear something cozy – that’s it.

I like to advise wearing layers as it’s impossible to find the perfect temperature that pleases everyone! You may get warm during practice and want to remove a layer; then while we rest at the end of class, you may want to cozy up. My personal recommendation? Very warm socks, for savasana.

In general, we practice barefoot. But if you want to keep your shoes on or wear socks, just be mindful during any balance or wide-legged standing poses.

If you can, buy yourself a mat.

I have mats at the studio you are welcome to use! But I highly advise getting your own. This is for three reasons:

1. to invest in yourself and your practice – to show your commitment to quality props and materials for your own use.

2. the studio mats are great for padding – but paying for a more upscale mat provides more access to poses. I personally like Jade, and Manduka mats. They are positively no-slip! When I practice on a lower-quality mat, I always feel a bit impeded.

3. if you have a mat you bring to and from class, you may start practicing at home, too! It’s nice to get used to your mat. You come to have a fond feeling about it!

Now – mats can be expensive. It may take time to save up. But I have found the expense of a better-quality mat, is far outweighed by the health benefits that regular practice delivers!

Let the instructor know of any special needs or requests you have.

A group class cannot tailor to one individual at the expense of the group; however, your instructor is trained and qualified to help you with anything you need. Many times your requests can be accommodated – so don’t be shy!

Some examples of special needs or requests you may have:

1. Let your instructor know if you are experiencing pain or soreness. The instructor can then help you be as comfortable as possible during class, with suggestions and/or props.

2. Let your instructor know if you are new or newish to yoga! They will tailor the class with more helpful explanation than they might otherwise.

3. Let your instructor know if you are sensitive to sound or scent. Each class is listed with a full explanation of sensory and adaptive information. But your instructor will accommodate you as much as possible!

Make sure you are neither too hungry or too full.

Life is busy and sometimes we make mistakes – I once taught two classes back-to-back after consuming a huge lunch of spicy nachos! Oof!

While we can’t expect perfection here, it’s worth noting that going to class while too hungry will be distracting and even cranky-inducing; going to class while too full can foment discomfort.

Ask yourself *why* you practice!

This may be the scariest suggestion on this list!

Ask yourself WHY you practice. You can do this on your way to class, after class – or during an introspective moment in class.

Don’t feel like you need to come up with an answer right away. Don’t pressure yourself either! Just ask yourself. I’ll tell you, I practiced for YEARS and asked myself and many days the answer was, “I don’t know!” And that’s okay. Because over time, this regular check-in helped me really solidify the fact that I was finding practice beneficial. I’m glad I didn’t just go to class on autopilot – because I’d have quit by now!

I hope you’ve found this post helpful!

We’d love to practice with you. Click here to book a class!

why a sliding scale business?

A sliding scale business model is rare – but I choose to believe it’s still a wise build when engineered well.

In a sliding scale, either the business sets the criteria for the rate the client is charged, or the client chooses the rate they wish to pay.

I have chosen the latter option.

Since I am trusting you to self-select, I ask that you take responsibility for that choice. I don’t need any “advice” or criticism about the structure itself.

You can trust me that I’ve done the math correctly. 🙂

My Membership page hosts a pretty thorough explanation and provides multiple options for participating with Little Switch. I always tell interested parties to make sure to read it carefully before committing.

If the implications of the sliding scale is too stressful for you and you don’t want to apply for work scholarship, you can always pay the regular per-class fee.

I also gently remind anyone reading here that there are so many other yoga options out there. Little Switch won’t be for everyone!

Given you want to read on, here’s what you need to know:

Little Switch’s sliding scale lets you self-select your level, trusting that you’ve read through the material and made the choice right for you. Please do not reach out to criticize or “advise” me on the conditions therein. 

I will be regularly sharing the expenses and efforts of running Little Switch through email and social media. This is not only for my sake and for Little Switch’s sake, but to better inform the community I’ve seen too many wonderful projects fall apart due to the burn-out of the facilitator, who does not share the load.

Little Switch does have a corporate mentality. Little switch has a community mentality, and a collective set-up. That sounds well and good but it can be difficult for some people to get their head around. Some people always suspect some kind of egregious profit motive. That’s just not the case here. My mission is to provide a clean, reliable, electric yoga space and I am more transparent than most businesses in how I do this.

Please remember that creating this space and organizing this space takes a great deal of effort and considerable expertise. I am not in need of business advising at this time.

Thank you so much for your careful consideration and ALL forms of support you provide!

We are now at the historic Vasa Hall!

Nothing ever is as hard as keeping good news to myself so when I tell you I have been BURSTING AT THE SEAMS trying to contain myself!

As of February, Little Switch Yoga will be operating at the historic Vasa Hall in Hoquiam.

Not to sound trite, but –

This is a dream come true for me!

I was very, very particular about the space I would take on.

The Vasa Hall is an incredible historic space in Hoquiam that has a long history – not just in regards to the original Swedish Vasa oganization, but in later iterations as a significant music venue.

It’s almost a hundred years old!

And yes, I went to high school dances there in its tenure as a Moose Hall! 

I am sad to say that so many historic buildings here are left to rot and die – not because we locals do not love our history but because we are an economically-depressed area, and it costs a lot of money to keep these buildings up.

Fortunately, a local construction group acquired the Vasa and has restored and upgraded it beautifully – absolutely beautifully! I am in good company next to the Red Cedar, Solid Coffee, and The Hive –  and we have another business taking up residence soon!

***

As for me?

My family goes deep, here in Hoquiam. My great grandparents settled here to start a family. Great-grandpa was an entrepreneur who lived and worked just a few blocks away from this very Hall. He was a titan of (tiny little) Hoquiam and flew the first mail plane to the Harbor!

I am a fourth-generation Hoquiam entrepreneur and I’m so proud of this.

I am also proud of the TYPE of enterprise I am bringing.

It’s different than anything we’ve previously had.

[gulp!]

My yoga space will prioritize constructive community effort, mental, emotional and physical strength-building, JOY, and the sacred space of interpersonal connection.

I will also host the only sliding-scale yoga business in the whole Harbor.

This is a big leap for me.

And I will be honest: I’m kind of nervous!

But it’s time for me to make a move!

Please keep your eyes peeled and your ears pricked –

Because I’m canvasing the community (survey below)! –

And one of the best ways you can help, is to fill out that survey and check “yes” to staying on my email list!

***

A few more words.

Just last night after Sunday group I talked to two of my students. One of them said she almost started crying at the way I gave each student “permission” to stop pushing themselves in a certain pose.

We talked for a while – it felt so good to talk about something I love so much! – and I finally said:

“It takes time to overcome fitspo culture.”

I’ve talked about fitspo before. I’m not here to go on at length now.

But what I will say is this:

The reason people know yoga is good for them – but don’t make time to practice – is because we’ve been squeezed out of our own life.

We don’t deeply believe we deserve good things.

Maybe we know – IN THEORY – that we deserve good things.

But our actions show that we don’t make time for them.

Now – 

I can’t change someone’s mind, or someone’s priorities.

All I can do is offer up the absolutely best-engineered space possible for this wholesomeness, this blooming, this joy and electricity to flourish!

And that’s my commitment.

I hope I succeed.

I hope I can pay rent.

By the end of the year, I hope to pay myself even a little.

But.

I can only do my best.

Can I count on you for your support?

***

Another note: I simply cannot overstate my gratitude to Maija Nordin and Gayle Russell for letting Little Switch have a home in 2023. Without business owners helping me rent at a low price-point, I could not have built a practice that let me step into Big Boy rent.

As for Big Boy rent!

My expenses have gone UP, and within the next few weeks you’ll see my class offerings going up, as well.

I’ve been studying, crafting, and modeling several options AND I now have a survey!

Please trust I have worked very hard and put a lot of thought AND taken professional advice.

What I could use from YOU, is your feedback.

So please please, take time to fill out the survey!

You can do so, here!

This will help us all so much.

***

Finally:

I am so, so grateful for everyone who attended class in my studio in 2023! Each of you has a special surprise coming your way before the month is up! Make sure to stay on my email list and keep your eyes open!

I am so excited about this new move. It’s a BIG move and I know I’m bringing my best self. It’s time to let the community come together in a bigger way!

Little Switch Yoga historic Vasa Hall in Hoquiam, Washington

mean girls (or boys, etc) don’t belong in yoga

I’ve been practicing yoga about twenty-one years. I’m an old hat.

I’ve been to lots of classes – hundreds. And I’ve seen all kinds of behaviors from students and teachers alike!

But two of the worst behaviors I’ve seen, I re-experienced rather recently:

Snobbery and exclusion.

Yes, I attended a class where the instructor and the regulars didn’t make eye contact, ignored my presence, and rebuffed my general friendliness.

As practiced as I am – and as good as I am at finding joy on the mat – I left feeling dispirited and unwelcome.

So.

Here’s the thing!

Social engagements are tricky. What someone might experience as snobbery from a class regular could be a regular who is shy, uncomfortable with new people – that kind of thing. So even with my recent unsavory experience, I’m keeping an open mind. Gee I sure FELT unwelcomed, but perhaps I misread the vibe.

But yes – it goes without saying there ARE people – including instructors – who are simply unwelcoming. They’re not likely to be reading this post and they’re not likely wanting to change.

I’m not here trying to change THEM.

I’m trying to help US build a better yoga community!

So here are some actions we can take to make sure we aren’t a yoga “mean girl” (/boy/genderqueer person, etc).

Learn about the specific purpose (and/or level) of the class.

Even terms like “beginner”, “intermediate” and “advanced” are hard for a new practitioner to interpret. So as a class regular, your job is to understand and, when you represent the class (for instance, sharing on social media) to describe the class accurately.

If you’re a student in a class, take note of the class itself – which starts with the instructor. What is the instructor’s vibe, attitude? Are they hushed and reverent? Are they feathery and New Agey? Are they athletic and aggressive? Are they strong, gorgeous, witty, urbane and playful? (that last one’s me!)

As an example: my Sunday group class is listed as “for all bodies”. This means ALL bodies are welcome as I can accommodate anyone who shows up with a pulse. (And if I have trouble, you know I will research and do better next time!). So for instance in my class if a student can’t or doesn’t want to attempt an asana, I include them verbally, with optional instruction, and I include them physically by mirroring their body.

Take note of the class accommodations and setting. Is the environment a calm one (private and peaceful), or a fairly active one (say, in a gym)? Are yoga props not only used but encouraged? Does the instructor have a plan – or do they wing it? Is the class an active, strengthening one – or more down-regulating? Does the class include meditations, chanting, or readings?

The sooner you as a student begin to pay attention to the different types of yoga classes, the better you can represent and (if need be) orient new attendees.

Remember: new people are intimidated.

If you’ve been practicing a while you probably know that yoga is not all that intimidating. The teacher could be up front in some kind of obscenely difficult one-finger handstand wearing posh yoga fashion and heck who gives a shit, you’re allowed to chill out in child’s pose in your tattered sweatpants. (If you’ve learned this lesson… you’ve mastered a BIG part of yoga!)

But… remember, newbies have probably been conditioned their whole lives to compare: to think of someone else as “better” or “more fit” or “advanced”.

In fact newbies – and not-so-newbies – are often straining to copy an instructor’s shape rather than really FEEL into the asana. I have to work to deprogram this behavior, all the time! And I am sad to say some people never stop straining – even in yoga class. It’s a sad reality.

Now realistically, we can’t change fitspo attitudes in a single hour together – no matter how welcoming we are and no matter what we say. But we can stay mindful that there are some in the room who are experiencing frustration, intimidation, confusion – even shame. Hold space for them by BEING on your mat and doing your best to stay connected to your breath and body, moment by moment.

Greet people!

After your first class with a new instructor or location you are now charged to be a greeter. When new people show up – simply look at them and say, “Hello!” That’s it. That’s the job. 

It makes a huge difference!

If you can: remember names – and use them.

I try VERY hard to remember names, and I try to use them. Greeting a student with “It’s good to see you, Clark” on his second class – it makes a huge impression. I know EXACTLY how it feels to have been noticed, and named, and welcomed. It’s wonderful.

Smiling works too, if you’re feeling it. Don’t force a smile but if you find one arriving – let it fly!

Avoid cliqueish behavior.

This is something we should remind ourselves of regularly.

It is natural that as we come to know one another we look forward to seeing one another weekly (or daily, or whatever). It can be REALLY easy for the student regular AND the instructor to lapse into social chit-chat at the beginning of class, either vivacious or heated or animated or simply, in-depth in some way not accessible to a new person. This is NATURAL and this means we are feeling connected to one another.

However I guarantee that ninety percent of new attendees won’t appreciate this. If they walk in and feel like everyone knows eachother already (even if that’s not true), this can create a chilling effect.

Remember this too at the end of class: gently returning to social conversation is fine. But cannonballing into an animated, complex or highly-involved insider discussion is less than welcoming for new students.

Yoga is a social activity but it’s not a social club. Engage cautiously with studios and instructors that try to create a social club over a welcoming and grounded yoga practice.

Most important: invest in your own practice

Are YOU still comparing, pushing yourself, trying to get “fit” or get toned abs or lose weight on the mat?

Let’s dismantle that!

Listen I’m not the boss but I can tell you: all the above, THAT’S NOT YOGA.

What is yoga? Well I am neither qualified nor educated enough to give you a definitive answer (spoiler alert: no single human being could!) – BUT I can tell you one thing: yoga isn’t about abs, fitness, mastering a cool pose and taking a slick picture. One thing yoga IS about is unifying breath and body, learning to love and cherish the breath and body, finding more stability and peace, and finding a lot more playfulness and joy. Life is very very beautiful and a dedicated yoga practice can help you find this.

So invest in your OWN practice. Find that breath, and body, and joy and playfulness! If you want other people to invest in yoga, make sure you’re investing your best self.

Community comes and goes, waxes and wanes. If you find yourself fortunate to have a good leader, instructor or student – do your part to create an inclusive community.

You’ll miss it if it disappears!

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