Anyone who has ever taken a yoga class — even just a single one — knows how much of an incredibly different experience it is compared to practicing solo at home. And while many yogis might assume that all they really need to do is show up and follow the teacher’s instructions, there’s so much more we can do to really make the most of our practice when we decide to attend a class.
Here are some things to keep in mind whether you’re joining a class for the first time or have already been attending classes for years.
Pick a class time when you know you feel good to practice.
Not all classes will be scheduled at convenient times for you, but that’s the reality of deciding to take yoga classes. Experiment with different class time slots to get a feel for which ones your body favors. You may find that an early morning class is better than an evening one, or vice versa.
Experiment by trying different classes.
You can combine your experimentation with classes at different times along with trying different styles too. Be open to trying vinyasa flow, hatha, ashtanga, bikram (hot yoga), and other styles that your studio or gym offers. Make sure to check that they’re appropriate for your level of experience as well.
Fuel up with a healthy snack beforehand.
It’s important to time your meals and snacks so that they give you energy for your class without making you feel too full or sluggish. It’s no fun to feel faint during practice — especially in a class full of other yogis! Here are just 10 nutritious and energizing suggestions to try about 30 minutes before you hit the mat.
There’s nothing worse than arriving late to class, missing the first few minutes, and having to roll out your mat in one of the last awkward spaces that nobody took. Worst of all, it’s disrespectful to the teacher and everyone else in class. Making sure you give yourself plenty of time to get there will give you time to roll out your mat, center yourself, and even do some optional stretching or resting poses before class begins.
Lean toward teachers who help with alignment.
As you try out different classes and get to know your teachers, you’ll start to notice which ones walk around the class and frequently make adjustments to students’ poses as they perform them. This is a great help in becoming more aware of the poses you think you’re doing right, but actually may not be!
Befriend your teachers and fellow yogis.
It’s great to feel part of a community, and yoga classes are a great opportunity for that. You can easily become friends with your teachers by simply thanking them after class and asking them questions or for advice. Making casual conversation with fellow yogis before and after class starts can also help you find a new circle of friends to hang out with outside of class.
Be consistent with attending class.
It’s fine to mix up your schedule and try different classes if that fits your style, but you won’t get as much value out of taking just one class every six months compared to consistently taking a class once a week. By going to class regularly, you get to build on what you practiced and learned during the previous class, which is ideal for improvement.
Above all, remember to have fun! Make the most of your practice by taking classes, but don’t take it so seriously that you feel like you’re not enjoying it.
Image (edited) Evan Lovely