Have you always wanted to go to a yoga class but aren’t sure what to expect? Think you can’t do yoga because you “aren’t flexible enough?” Many myths abound regarding yoga, and it can prevent people from trying something that might have huge benefits for them. That being said, here are some tips if you’ve never been to a yoga class before.
First things first, if you feel like you aren’t flexible enough, that is all the more reason to try yoga! No one starts out magically flexible, it’s something all of us have to work towards. Every body is different, you might find out that your hips need some stretching but you have extra flexible shoulders! How are you ever going to get better if you don’t try? It’s called a yoga PRACTICE for a reason.
Before you Leave the House:
- Wear comfortable clothing
You might wish to have clothing that is at least sort of tight fitting. If you’re in downward facing dog and your shirt starts to rise up and expose your belly, all you’ll be able to think about is that your stomach is showing. Likewise, I prefer bottoms that are higher waisted so that you don’t have to worry about the waistband sinking down and exposing your underthings. Yoga is also best barefoot so keep that in mind that you’ll want to take your socks off so you don’t slip.
- Bring a water bottle, a mat, and a towel if you have one
Water is always good to have in a workout, and it is especially important to have water if you are doing any kind of heated yoga. You’ll need to replace all the fluids that you sweat out. If you have a yoga mat, bring it with you. If you do not, see if the studio or gym has mats available for use or rental. If you are doing hot yoga, you will want to bring a towel with you. Bring a hand towel for wiping sweat away, and a mat towel to so your mat doesn’t get too slippery. Again, the studio may also have these towels available for use or to rent.
At the Studio:
Go early and ask questions
If it’s your first class at this location, you’ll need to arrive early, about 15 minutes before the start of class time. There will probably be paperwork with contact information. You’ll also have a chance to ask about studio policies, what kind of class you’re signing up for, etc. Talk to the instructor and let them know you’re new to yoga, about any injuries that you have, any questions you have regarding the studio, etc. You should still have a few minutes to get your mat set up along with your props and things.
Take it at your own pace
Every body reacts different to yoga. Take it slow for the first few classes. Listen to the instructor, but don’t do anything that causes pain. If you need to, you can always take child’s pose or take a seat on your mat for a few breaths and rest.
No one else is looking at what you’re doing
I’ll let you in on a secret - everyone in yoga is putting so much thought into what they themselves are doing. They are too busy thinking of them to notice what the person next to them is doing, unless you’re doing something REALLY distracting. Only you are focusing on you, so try your best to relax and find ease in the poses. If you’re really nervous beforehand, watch a few basics videos on youtube or ask a teacher for a private lesson.
Give it a try, and keep on trying.
There are so many different teachers and styles of yoga - there is no one size fits all. If you take a class and it didn’t do anything for you, don’t discount it immediately. Give a few other styles of classes, studios, and teachers a try. Most locations offer a discount class pack for new students so you can try a variety of things. Similarly, if you can, try to take classes at least 2 or 3 times per week at a minimum. The more you practice, the faster you’ll familiarize yourselves with the basics. Once you have the basics down, classes will flow a lot smoother for you. Many studios offer classes specifically for beginners as well, so you’ll know that all the other people in the class are in the same boat, and you can all chuckle together about silly pose names like Happy Baby.
At the End of Class:
For the last few minutes of class, it’s almost guaranteed there will be a time called savasana (pronounced sha-vah-sah-nah). Savasana is a time to lie down on your mat, to relax, to let your breath flow naturally, and rest in silence for a few moments. Some teachers will choose to lead a guided meditation during this time, or share a meaningful quote or passage of text. Sometimes people are tempted to skip it entirely and leave before the end of class, but much like stretching and cool down at the end of group exercise classes, it is very important! Savasana is like eating dessert at the end of a meal. When else do you get to relax for a few moments in silence? Take the golden opportunity to do nothing and enjoy it.
Literally translated as “I bow to the divine in you,” at the end of class everyone will share this greeting. It is a kind way to share the good energy and vibes that you’ve generated from your practice with those around you and acknowledge the light and good in others. If it makes you uncomfortable for any reason, just skip it!
- Clean up
Part of living your yoga is taking care of your environment. If you borrowed a mat, clean it off and hang it up to dry so it is clean for the next person who uses it. If you’ve borrowed or rented a towel from a studio or gym, be sure to find the hamper and toss it in. Gather your things, thank your teacher, and head out into your day feeling a little more relaxed!