Are you interested in taking your first yoga class, but a little worried about feeling out of place as a newbie? Don’t be afraid to be a beginner. Try to remember that every yogi had to start somewhere.
Sure, walking into a yoga class for the first time can be unnerving, especially if you have no idea what to expect once you slide off your shoes and step into the class, but keep in mind that yoga is so much more than a trendy way to stay fit.
Despite the trending #yogaeveryday on Instagram that makes it seem like you need a specific body type to start your own practice, you don’t.
So, don’t wait to unfurl your mat and begin. Here are a few tips to make your first trip to the studio as zen as possible:
1. Dress For The Occasion
Wear clothes that you can easily move your body in, like loose-fitting pants and a supportive top or leggings with a snug tank.
It’s helpful to practice in clothing that requires little effort to stay put. If you’re constantly pulling down your shirt or adjusting your pants, this can take you out of “flow” and keep your from being present in the class. The point is to feel comfortable, not self-conscious.
2. Bring The Right Gear
You can call the studio ahead of time to see what they provide for their guests or just come prepared. For instance, most studios rent mats, but if you have your own, then, by all means, bring it with you.
A few other items you may want to stick in a gym bag:
A full reusable water bottle.
A small hand towel to keep rolled up next to your mat in case of sweating.
Change of clothes depending on the intensity of class and your plans afterward. Hey, not everyone feels comfortable grabbing brunch with girlfriends in their yoga gear and that’s totally fine.
A post-class snack like a small piece of fruit or handful of raw nuts.
3. Brush Up On Class Etiquette
Here are some easy to remember general “Dos” and “Don’ts” of a yoga class:
Do put your phone on silent and stow it away.
Do wipe down your mat if you borrowed one. Return any props that you used. You know the old saying “leave things as you found it”.
Do stagger your mat so that you aren’t blocking the person directly behind you.
Don’t step on other people’s yoga mats. Make sure to step around and over them as you make your way through the room.
Don’t place your mat too close to someone else’s so that everyone has plenty of personal space.
4. Arrive Early
Try to arrive to class about 15 minutes early to introduce yourself to the teacher and let them know that you’re new and if you have any injuries or areas of concern.
This is also a great time to check in with yourself, your mood, and let go of any thoughts that are taking you out of the present moment. Try a few warm-up poses or quietly lay on your back.
5. Skip The Heavy Meal
About an hour or two before class, fuel up with a nutrient-dense, easy-to-digest meal that won’t leave you feeling bloated. Meat and heavy fats are slow-digesting which can cause uncomfortable indigestion during your downward dogs.
Try a cup of oats with some banana sliced on top. The oats will digest quickly to give you energy and the potassium in the bananas promotes healthy bones and muscle function.
6. Keep An Open Mind
Perhaps the most important of all the tips is to keep an open mind during the class. Try your best not to get caught up in comparison or sharp judgements.
Don’t be intimidated when the teacher calls out poses in sanskrit or the person next to you nails a perfect headstand. Yoga is a journey and you are just beginning yours. All you need is about one hour of willingness to try something new and be a beginner.
7. You Can Always Come Back To Your Breath
Honor your limits and try not to impress anyone. Never force a pose and don’t hesitate to ask the teacher for modifications.
If a pose feels too challenging or there’s discomfort in your body, then come back to child’s pose and focus on your breathing.
Studies show that deep yogic breaths have the ability to relieve emotional exhaustion and lower stress.
8. Give It More Than One Chance
From ashtanga to vinyasa to yin yoga and so on, there are many, many varied styles of yoga offered in the United States.
Identifying a style that you enjoy and find beneficial can be a daunting task, especially if you’re new to yoga in general. In addition to the many styles offered, each teacher has their own personal style as well.
It takes time to find what and who work for you, so be patient with yourself. Approach each class as a learning opportunity.