Chances are your first introduction to Yoga will be at home with a book or a DVD. Eventually however you’ll want to join a class but it’s likely you’ll be a little apprehensive and nervous about what to expect.
Here are our top 10 suggestions for those about to embark on their first Yoga Class. Leave a comment if you have any suggestions or tips to share.
1. Wear appropriate, comfortable clothes.
You’d think this wouldn’t need mentioning but even experienced yogis can find themselves distracted by trying to keep ill-fitting clothes in place, forget fashion for now (don’t worry, you can come back to it later). Clothes that are too tight make it difficult to stretch and breathe whilst clothes that are too loose tend to move around too much and expose a lot of skin. A safe choice is a longish short sleeve or sleeveless top and stretchy long or cropped yoga pants. Guys, if your pants are loose, either get lined pants or wear something to stop your bits falling out! It’s not a pretty sight in a mirrored room. Try to avoid synthetic fabrics which can begin to smell during a hot or intense practice.
2. Don’t come to class with a full stomach.
This is especially relevant to those popping to a class after work who might snarf down food to keep them going until they get home. Take it from me, trying to twist and stretch your body into yoga poses is unpleasant when your stomach is full of undigested food. Try to eat a meal about 3 hours before your class. If you need it, a small, easily digestible snack like fruit or nuts about a half hour before the class starts is preferable.
3. Arrive early.
Try to arrive at the studio 10-15 minutes before the class starts. This will give you time to register, fill out any necessary paperwork, and find a spot in the room where you’re comfortable practicing.
4. Talk to the instructor before class.
Arriving early will also give you a few minutes to talk the instructor before you start so you can ask them any questions you may have. Make sure you tell them that it’s your first time doing yoga and about any present or past injuries you may have. They will also tell you anything you need to know about the class and how to practice safely and happily.
5. Don’t compare yourself to others.
It’s your first yoga class, so comparing yourself to the person in the front who warms up in a split is not helpful. One of the benefits of yoga is that it gives you a chance to look within yourself and explore your own limits, boundaries, and capabilities. When you compare yourself with other students, you miss out on that benefit. This one is very important and matters whether it’s your first class or your hundredth.
6. Use your fellow students as teachers.
Instead of wishing you could do what another student in the class is doing, open yourself to benefiting from their experience. You may not know or understand everything that the instructor is saying and the instructor may not demonstrate every pose but you can always follow the visual lead of the students in front of and beside you. Your pose may not look exactly like theirs, and their pose may not look exactly like the person’s beside them—and that’s okay!
7. Listen to your body.
Yoga may not always be comfortable, but it’s never supposed to be painful. Take it easy in your first class, paying close attention to how your body feels, so you can differentiate between the discomfort caused by having tight hamstrings, and the pain of over-stretching them. Listening to your body will allow you to stay safe in your practice, so you don’t try to push yourself into a pose you’re not ready for.
8. If you’re breathing, you’re doing it right.
It doesn’t matter if you can touch your toes. If you are breathing, in and out through the nose, you’re doing yoga! Follow your breath throughout the class. It may feel shallow at times, and deep and relaxed at others—however it feels, simply observe it and let it guide you through your practice.
9. Just relax.
An important benefit of yoga is that it releases tension and stress stored in the body. However, unconsciously tensing the body, particularly around they shoulders, jaw, and toes, and fingers is very common when you’re first starting out. The more you are aware of the tension in your body, the more you’ll be able to let go and release it, allowing you to get the full benefit of every posture and more enjoyment out of the practice.
10. If It Gets Too Much, Become A Child
If you grow tired, get confused or just want to take a break for a while, there’s a pose for you!
Feel free to come into Read more about the Child Pose at any point during your class, whether the teacher cues it or not.
Rest here until you’ve regained your connection with the breath, and feel ready to continue with your practice.