Kula Yoga Project Student Guide (for students new to yoga & experienced practitioners new to the ways of Kula)…
Yoga is so much more than the poses we do or the ‘levels’ at which we practice. There is a reason it is called a practice. We never arrive. We just come back to the mat again and again. Ultimately, practicing yoga is about the cultivation of humility and joy. Ripped biceps are nice too.
Welcome to the Kula.
Being in the flow is all good, but the studio – like any extended family – functions best with some structure.
THE KULA 11 COMMANDMENTS:
- Thou shalt arrive on time. Leave the frantic pace of NYC on the street below.
- Thou shalt remove your shoes. City streets are gross. Bare feet are cute.
- Thou shalt turn off your cell phone. OFF—not vibrate! Cultivate eye contact.
- Thou shalt sign in right away. That means before you go to the dressing room or studio.
- Thou shalt store large personal belongings in the changing rooms, but bring valuables into the studio with you—even thieves like yoga.
- Thou shalt speak up if you have any injuries or you do not like to get physical adjustments. We are sensitive but not necessarily psychic.
- Thou shalt arrange your props neatly beside your mat and replace them even more neatly than you found them. All hail Mr. Iyengar!
- Thou shalt stay for Savasana. The more excuses you make to leave early, the more this applies to you.
- Thou shalt tidy up after class – tissues, bottles, wet clothes. We are not your mothers!
- Thou shalt wash clothing & mat regularly. Toss anything with “the yoga funk.” Now.
- Thou shalt maintain a sense of humor. You know laughter is the most powerful mantra.
CLASS STYLES & LEVELS
Kula Flow: A creative blend of vigorous asana (postures) and pranayama (breath). For students with a regular practice. (int/adv)
Kula Basics: For students new to yoga and experienced students who like their vinyasa a little more down tempo. (all levels)
The Kula Hour: A 65 minute straight up shot of all the good stuff, Kula style. Better than all the other shots you do – and just as addictive. (intermediate)
Honey Flow: A Kula Hour followed by 30 minutes of deep yin and restorative asanas. Super yummy – and nutritious. (intermediate)
Meditation: The proven way out of the madness is to go in (all levels).
Teachers Practice: Nikki Costello offers a space for teachers to deepen and esplore their own practice. (teachers and teachers-in-training)
KulaNatal: Big bellies and new mommies can flow too. Also a nurturing space for women at all stagest of life to create real community. (all levels)
Kula Kids: You take class in one room, your kid gets their yoga on right next door. Genius.
Intro Series: A month long 4 class introduction to the particular style of vinyasa practiced at Kula. Get hooked! (brand newbies / all levels)
GENERAL INFO & SOME FAQs
Signing In: New Students: Fill out the waiver form and then talk to someone behind the desk.
Drop-ins: See desk staff.
Series holders: Sign in and go change!
Class card expiration policy: All class cards expire in 3 months, except the new student special which expires 14 days from the date of first use. (This is a pretty generous policy – so don’t ask for an exception, unless you are in a body cast.)
What IS ‘Kula Flow’?
Except for the ‘specialty classes’, all the teachers at Kula teach vinyasa – or flow – style yoga, and every teacher’s style reflects their personal experience and interests. Some emphasize precise alignment; some like deep, meditative flow. Some play house music; some prefer silence. Some chant, some don’t. However there is a unifying love of creativity and precision, as well as a respect for the purifying power of sweat that characterizes all the teachers at Kula. They’re all open to your questions & feedback; but if you have special needs, please contact Schuyler or Nikki.
What level class should I take?
Classically, students of all levels practice together; however, this assumes a close ongoing student/teacher relationship. In the US students often bounce between teachers – so this just isn’t practical. It’s important that you practice at an appropriate level. (An ‘advanced’ practice is not a 2 minute handstand, but the ability to practice regularly, safely & conscientiously.) Most classes at Kula are for students with a regular practice; a familiarity with jump-backs, the major standing and seated postures, and inversions is necessary. If you’re a new student start with Kula Basics – (They are not exactly easy!) How long you spend in basics classes is entirely individual; eventually attending both Basics and Kula Flow classes can be very helpful. If you’re unsure about what level you should attend, talk to us! And respect your guests – if they’re new to yoga, take them to a basics class. It’ll be good for both of you.
Why can’t I bring my cell phone into class?
Who is it hurting? Well – it might hurt your cell phone when the teacher steps on it. More importantly, it hurts your chances of disconnecting from the mental rat race. When we practice, we hope to experience true presence of mind/heart/body. With a phone lurking at your side… fat chance.
Why don’t you sell bottled water or have plastic cups?
C’mon – you don’t really have to ask that do you?? We’re trying to do our itty bitty part not to be an animal that fouls its nest. Bringing a reusable bottle is a habit. Practice it.
ARRIVALS & DEPARTURES
Do your best to arrive on time… or even a little early (what a concept!). It can greatly enhance the quality of your practice to spend a little time before class begins chilling out.
But what it I’m late? It happens. (But don’t make a habit of it!) Wait quietly OUTSIDE the studio until after the class is done OMing before entering. Cut off for full length classes is 15 min late and for kula hour classes is 10 min late.
What if I have to leave early? Notify the teacher (so s/he doesn’t worry that something is wrong), and leave before the rest of the class takes savasana. Be sure to take a 3-5 min rest on your own – it’s the most important posture of your practice for body, mind & nervous system. If you’re tempted to skip it – because it’s the hardest pose – DON’T! Practice makes perfect.
INJURIES & LIMITATIONS
I’m really inflexible—can I practice vinyasa? Absolument! Just be aware of where your body is today—and don’t worry about what other people in the room are doing. If you develop a mindful practice, you’ll likely achieve more than a flexible body—maybe even some peace of mind. Remember, you are own best teacher. If something doesn’t feel good to you—don’t do it.
I have an injury—should I be practicing yoga? Yes, but perhaps not at Kula. It depends on the type of injury. Talk to a teacher or desk staff. And consult your P/T, doctor or shaman.
MATS, PROPS & CLOTHING
Respect the noses around you. Personal scents—natural or purchased—may not be appreciated by your fellow Kulis. Wash your mat and yoga clothes regularly! Owning your own mat is important—as a commitment to your practice & for your own personal hygiene. Think about it!
Mat Storage: email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested. If you DO store your mat at Kula, neatly roll and push your mat all the way into the shelf. (Mat bags, towels & Yogitoes may not be stored with it.) If you don’t respect these guidelines you will lose your spot. Available in Tribeca and Soho.
Mat Care: Your mat is more like an article of clothing than a piece of furniture. Wash it every few weeks if you’re a sweaty kind of yogi! (Launder by hand in the shower, or machine wash with a little detergent. Hang to dry, or put it in the dryer for 15-20 mins on low – longer might damage your mat.)
Ummm – what’s “The Yoga Funk?” (If you don’t know you’re lucky.) It happens when you sweat in your clothes and then roll them up in a ball and leave them on your bag all day. When you wash and dry them they might smell just fine – but when you start sweating in them again – the dreaded rotten, cat pee smell comes out, torturing the yogis around you. Rinse your clothes after class if you have to stuff them in your bag for the day. Once a piece of clothing has the funk, it’s over – make that $75 tank into rags! (NB: some people think that cotton doesn’t get the funk as easily as ‘technical’ fabric.)
I sweat a lot when I practice. Any advice? Mats can become slippery if you sweat a lot. Use a towel to keep your mat and your body as dry as possible. Yogitoes or other skidless towels help!
What’s the deal with all those blankets and blocks and stuff? For some students, props are essential; for others, they’re just in the way. Always ask if you need help. And NEVER EVER use a yoga blanket as a towel. YUCK! (If you notice that a blanket has the yoga funk, please bring it to the front desk for cleaning.)
Thoughts on eating & drinking? It’s best to practice on an empty stomach. But if you think you’re going to collapse if you don’t eat, keep it simple – a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts. Best not to drink during class, but if you are distracted by intense thirst, take small sips of room temp water. (And always hydrate well after class!)
What should I wear? Some people prefer clothing that is form-fitting (which can help awareness of alignment) but others prefer a looser feel. Basically – wear whatever is comfortable. (If you sweat a lot, cotton fabrics tend to be more absorbent than synthetics.) Dudes – keep your shirts on. C’mon.
OMING / CHANTING
Most teachers open and close class with the chant of OM. By chanting OM we acknowledge that the totality of the universe is greater than any one of us – and that we are part of that totality. In addition, we acknowledge that the practice of yoga is different than running or spinning. OM is not aligned with any religion or deity. Some teachers lead more complex chants. Traditionally it is understood that just by vocalizing in Sanskrit you invoke the inherent divine meaning of words. Join in (if you don’t know the exact pronunciation, just fudge it – it feels good!) But if you don’t totally dig it, just breathe & enjoy the vibrations.
There is so much more to say about all of these subjects, and we truly hope that you engage your teachers and fellow students in dialogue as you explore the physical, philosophical and spiritual aspects of your practice. Yoga is so much more than the poses that we do. It is a process of understanding and respecting yourself and those around you. It is the cultivation of humility and generosity. Ultimately, it is about openness and exploration. We thank you in advance for joining the Kula and wish you a bountiful journey.
Namaste & love,