Every year, people from around the world come to Costa Rica to practice yoga – whether they are experienced, erstwhile or brand-new practitioners. From beachfront to cityscape, Kundalini to Ashtanga, there is something for everyone. In many towns around the country, it’s easy to find a new technique or approach to yoga if you’re interested in trying something different.
In that spirit, we headed to our first-ever Hatha yoga class, held at Ser Om Shanti in Tamarindo, Guanacaste. The small studio is owned by Mariel Andrea Marmorato, a certified yoga instructor with a master’s degree in therapeutic yoga who is also a math teacher. Marmorato, who hails from Argentina, focuses on personalizing her teaching to each student as she guides them throughout the class.
We chose Hatha yoga because of its slow pace and emphasis on positioning the body correctly before doing more intense movements. Hatha yoga focuses on various postures that seek to align and adjust the body.
Interested? Here are five basic steps for success in a Hatha yoga session that we gleaned from Marmorato’s class.
1. Sit on a block with your spine very straight
To start the class, sit down with a nice, straight spine to align your back from the very beginning of the class. This also helps warm up your muscles to continue adjusting yourself for the rest of the class.
2. Breathe in through your nose and breath out deeply through your mouth
Be conscious of your breathing… breathing helps you to calm your mind. Regular, steady breathing helps keep your body well oxygenated so you can hold more difficult postures.
3. When going downwards, remember to move your feet up and down
If your legs are tight after various intense movements, while doing downward dog pose, move your feet up and down as if climbing small steps. This will keep your muscles active and prepare you for the next posture you’ll be doing.
4. Place your hands shoulders width apart when doing a posture in which the weight is on your hands and arms
This may sound simple, but always remember to align your hands and shoulders to avoid any injuries to your wrists. This will also help you to maintain your balance and strengthen your arms.
5. When leaning down to reach your toes, don’t force your back
At all times when doing yoga, be sure to stop at the point where your body still feels comfortable. This applies when you’re asked to touch your toes: If you push too hard, you may hurt your back. Reach to your maximum potential, where your body is still aligning itself in a natural way.
Disclaimer: these tips are our interpretation based on our participation in the class; for direct guidance from yoga experts, turn to a certified teacher near you!
Ser Om Shanti donated a Hatha yoga lesson to The Tico Times for the purposes of this story in 2018.
Ser Om Shanti has certified instructors and provides its students with personalized attention. The studio offers various classes such as power Vinyasa, gentle Hatha, Vinyasa flow, restorative yoga, and Pilates. For more information visit their website or their Facebook page.