Frequently Asked Questions
What should I bring?
Tahoe Yoga Shala provides all props, including mats. We highly recommend bringing your own yoga mat – its more hygienic. Many practitioners bring a water bottle and small towel. If you borrow a shala mat, we ask that you clean it after each use with the mat cleaner and towels provided. There are no fees for use of shala props.
What should I wear?
Wear comfortable & stretchy exercise clothing that is not too baggy. We practice in our bare feet. Please leave your shoes in the lobby.
Is there a place to change and store my belongings?
Yes, bathrooms are available for changing and cubbies are available inside the shala for storing valuables.
How much does it cost?
We offer an Introductory $10 for 10 Pass to first-time visits made by permanent Tahoe residents. This pass spans ten consecutive days and gives residents an opportunity to sample the many styles and levels of practice we offer. If you would prefer to try just one class, the drop-in fee is $15. We accept cash, check and Visa/Master Card. For ongoing members, we offer various passes to fit your budget and frequency of attendance; see Fees page for details.
With which class should I start?
If you’re somewhat athletic, you may prefer to start with an All-Levels class. All-Levels classes are designed for students of all-levels from the brand-new-beginner to the more experienced practitioner. The teacher will guide students into a foundational posture then give those who want to advance the pose options to do so. If you are just getting back into a regular exercise routine, recovering from injury or experiencing the wear and tear of the decades, start with an All-Bodies: Level 1, Flow: Level 1 or Restorative: All-Levels class. Yoga styles range from highly athletic to gentle and therapeutic. The general progression in level is: Level 1, All-Levels then Level 2. Level 2 classes are not recommended for beginners.
What if I’m not at all athletic and generally uncomfortable in fitness settings?
All-Bodies: Level 1 classes are a perfect place to start. These classes use gentle breath directed movements to rejuvenate the spine and return healthy range of motion to the hip and shoulder joints.
How do I know if I practice at a safe and appropriate level?
Pay attention to your breath. It is your most accessible and intimate guide. You know you are doing a pose that is appropriate for you when it is supported by a smooth and even rate of respiration. If the breath becomes uneven, you find yourself holding the breath or gasping for air, we recommend that you modify the pose or take rest in Child’s Pose until you have recovered the breath.
What’s up with the breathing?
In yoga we breath in and out through the nose from the throat to create an audible hiss or whisper sound. This is Ujjayi Pranayama. This breath technique lengthens the breath and imbues it with a smooth and even quality. The sound of the breath is also a mindfulness training tool. Each time you loose connection to the breath you may discover that you’ve slipped into memories of the past or thoughts about the future. You then have an opportunity to guide the mind back to the breath and hence the present moment.
What is a typical Tahoe Yoga Shala class like?
No two classes are alike. Each teacher brings a unique background to his or her classes. In general, classes begin with a short meditation practice, ending with the chanting of OM. During the class, the teacher will lead students through a variety of yoga poses, with directions for healthy alignment of the body. He or she will also cue the breath and offer moments of silent self-inquiry. Teachers may or may not play music. Some teachers are more conversational, with questions and answers as part of the class; other teachers are more formal and will assist individually while they walk through the class as they teach. Some classes are very slow and methodical and focus on a few specific poses, while others may flow and move through more poses with less emphasis on each pose. The pace and intensity of the class will depend on the level and style of the class; some classes will focus more on relaxation, while others will give you a more physical workout. Please see our Instructor Bios and Class Descriptions to find the right class for you. Classes end with final relaxation, a short supine period of meditation, a final chanting of OM.
Why do teachers use hands-on assist?
Many teachers use their hands in addition to their voice to teach and assist students during class. Have no fear, not all assists are corrective. An assist could be corrective, supportive, deepening or therapeutic. If you would prefer to take care of yourself in any given class, just let the teacher know, he or she will be happy to honor your preferences.
What is a yoga pose?
The Sanskrit word for a yoga pose or posture is asana [AH-suh-nuh]. A more literal translation is seat. Each pose becomes a seat for self-inquiry and awareness. With practice, the link between body and breath becomes a moving meditation. What makes it a yoga pose is the way you do it, not the shape you take. It’s officially a yoga pose when you are breathing consciously, have a balance of effort and ease, and are not competing with yourself or anyone else. A truly advanced yogi is one who honors his or her honest edge of sensation - a place that is neither too much nor too little – in any given moment.
What is Savasana?
The last pose to every class is a resting pose, in which you lie on your back and relax for anywhere from 5-10 minutes. The Sanskrit term for this pose is Savasana [sha-VAH-sah-na]. This pose is all about comfort and rest, so if lying on your back is not comfortable for you, let the teacher know! He or she will show you how to support the body for maximum comfort with various props. A simple Savasana modification that you can do yourself is to place a blanket underneath your knees. This releases the low back and reduces discomfort.
I’m recovering from an injury. Will yoga help?
Yoga is a therapeutic practice and can often help the body to recover from injury or asymmetry. The practice may also compliment other physical activities and help prevent injury. It’s always advisable to let the teacher know about any physical conditions or injuries you are working before class so that they can offer you the individual support you need. Although the teacher will provide you with suggestions throughout the class, you are the one who makes the final call. If something hurts or doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. The teacher will not be offended. Ask any teacher before or after classes if you need more information or even more personalized options.
Should I do yoga if it’s my “time of the month?”
It depends! Many yogis recommend that women refrain from inversions during the first three days of their menstrual cycle to avoid countering the natural downward flow of energy. These include headstands, shoulder stands, and handstands. Our teachers often offer an alternative pose for those who aren’t doing inversions, but we leave this decision up to each woman’s personal discretion. Others recommend practicing only restorative or gentle yoga during your cycle to help build back the energy that goes into the process of menstruation. Listen to your body!
I’m pregnant. Should I stop my yoga practice?
No, but you’ll want to adapt it. Prenatal Yoga classes offer safe and beneficial practices for this important time. If you are pregnant and plan to take “regular” classes, please notify your teacher and listen to your body. Avoid poses on your belly and flat on your back and abdominal strengthening. Modify twists to be open, not closed. Backbends should be gentle, not deep. Relaxation pose should be modified to avoid lying flat on the back for an extended period of time.
What is OM?
OM is the “sacred syllable” of Sanskrit, the ancient language of India, home to the practice of yoga. It represents the four states of consciousness: waking, dreaming, deep sleep, and pure consciousness. We often chant OM at the beginning and/or end of class.
What is Namaste?
At the end of class it is traditional for the teacher to say Namaste and for the class to repeat it back to the teacher. The word Namaste (pronounced Nah-mah-stay) is literally translated as “I bow to you”. More generally, it is an ancient Sanskrit understanding of interconnectedness, acknowledging that we are all part of the same beautiful, united whole. If you wish to make this acknowledgement you can respond the teacher by repeating “Namaste”.
Do I have to know about or subscribe to Eastern spirituality in order to enjoy Tahoe Yoga Shala?
No. Tahoe Yoga Shal is dedicated to creating a friendly and welcoming space for the practice of yoga. Our teachers are knowledgeable about the origins and philosophy of yoga, as well as meditation and other aspects, but you do not have to be interested in these aspects of yoga to benefit from the practice. We respect that all students practice yoga for their own personal reasons. Should you be interested, we offer many ways to deepen your understanding, including class themes, workshops and intensives.