It’s not uncommon to be nervous about your first yoga class. It’s still a new exercise for your body, and now you’re faced with practicing difficult poses in front of a group of strangers.
But you can do it – and we believe in you! You’ve already made the conscious decision to improve your practice, and your body, mind and spirit will thank you for the dedication. Reaffirm yourself.
When walking into your first class, there’s a few things every beginner should know:
1. Choose the right yoga class
My first class was a packed hot yoga class. It was insanely taxing on my body, and at first, I was a little discouraged from returning to the practice. The problem was that I put my novice body in a more intermediate environment.
The lesson? Choose the right course. We suggest a low occupancy Vinyasa yoga course. Vinyasa yoga covers a broad range of courses, but broadly, it focuses on synchronizing breathe and movement. A beginner or “All Levels” class is the perfect place to get used to the atmosphere of yoga classes and master your standard asanas (“poses”).
(For the record, I now love hot yoga.)
2. Bring the Right Equipment
Some studios provide mats, blocks, blankets and cords for you to use at no cost. Others may have a nominal rental fee. We suggest always bringing your own mat to start. Don’t worry about fully equipping yourself with every yoga practice add-on (but do take advantage if the studio offers them for free during practice!). Just remember: you’re still exploring the basics of your body!
3. Be Comfortable and Prep Accordingly
During your first class, you’ll definitely be exposed to new asanas. Wear clothes that are breathable, aren’t too tight fitting, and allow the full spectrum of your body’s movement. Exercise shorts or yoga pants with a comfortable shirt should do.
Along those lines, be sure to arrive at your first yoga class properly hydrated. You can usually bring in a water bottle, but it’s never fun to feel like you’re suffering from dry mouth in the middle of your first warrior pose. Similarly, be mindful of what you’ve eaten. It’s not advised to have a full stomach, so if you do eat, try to choose a light meal and time it out about an hour before your practice.
4. Follow the Teacher
Almost always, you’re going to feel rushed by your teacher, especially if you take an “All Levels” course where other yogis’ needs are tended to during the session. But don’t let that discourage you – trust the flow of your teacher, and even if you don’t master the pose before moving on, try to stay on pace with the rest of the class. After just a few sessions, you’ll begin to master transitions and your teacher will be much easier to follow.
5. Be mindful of tension
I still remember one of my first teachers helping me become aware of how tight I held my body during practice. Beginners tend to clench their jaws, hands, toes, and just about any part of the body that is “waking up” for the first time. Take a few moments during each asana to become mindful of where tension exists in your body, then gently release.
(Ps. This is a habit you should practice throughout your whole day!)
6. Brush up on Yoga Etiquette
Yoga etiquette is pretty easy to follow. Be sure you know these few basic tenets:
- Arrive early. Not just out of respect, but so you can get yourself a good spot in the studio. We recommend arriving at least 10 minutes early.
- No socks, shoes, or gloves needed. Once you arrive, toss your bag and shoes into an available cubbie.
- Introduce yourself to the instructor and don’t be afraid to communicate if you need help or if they begin helping you.
- Don’t leave class during Savasana (also know as corpse pose). This comes at the end of class, when student lay flat on their back and relax. Some teachers will use a singing bowl to set an atmosphere of serenity. If you need to leave, do it before this pose.
And there you have it. You’re on your way to becoming a yogi master! Now go sign up for that second course!