You would love to try yoga, but it seems intimidating and you’re not sure where to start. Here are some easy steps to ensure your first yoga experience is a good one.
Research: Find the class that’s right for you
1. Is the studio heated? If it is heated- is this something you’re comfortable with and are you healthy enough to participate?
2. Does the studio offer “beginner” or “basic” classes? These are the types of classes you’ll want to start with to make sure you don’t get overwhelmed or injured on your first visit.
3. What type of yoga does the studio teach? Depending on style- you’ll have a wide variety of experience. Kundalini, for example, will be mostly seated and repetitive breathing exercises focused on energetic releases in the body. Vinyasa will be more active movements and Restorative yoga is on the ground with props to support you while you hold poses for 5-7 minutes (think deep healing meditation meets a wonderful nap).
Arriving: Show up prepared
1.Once you have decided which class is appropriate for you- you’ll want to show up early. (arriving 15 minutes prior to class will give you time to fill out their waiver, get to know where everything is located in the studio, and find a comfortable spot in the room).
2. Yoga is practiced barefoot and in stretchy, comfortable clothing.
3. Bring a yoga mat (you can purchase mats very cheaply at most big name stores like Target). A thinner mat is better for yoga class (unless its a restorative class you’re taking, in which case you can have a thick, padded mat). Some studios will rent you a mat for class- but not all, so find out ahead of time.
4. Bring a water bottle as staying hydrated is extremely important during the practice.
5. Introduce yourself to the teacher and tell them that you are a “first time student”. This way, the teacher will look out for you and give you some extra support if needed.
6. Placing your mat at the back of the room can be helpful the first few times so that it’s easy to peek around at other students to see what they’re doing if you’re confused.
Class: Know what to expect
1. Most yoga classes will start with an “OM.” According to the yogis, this is the universal sound for all things and can attune us with everything in the universe. It’s also a useful tool to get people to start breathing more deeply. You don’t have to “om” but it’s a nice way to start the ancient practice of yoga.
2. Go at your own pace and rest when you need to rest. If anything ever feels painful or stressful in yoga, stop what you’re doing immediately. Child’s pose is a great pose to take in class to signal to the teacher that you’re resting safely ( toes together, knees apart, forehead resting on the ground)
3. Breathe! This is the most important aspect of the yoga class. Breathing with awareness takes practice- so don’t expect it to be easy. The results of deep breath on your nervous system and whole body will be felt for hours, if not days, after you leave the studio.
4. At the end of class the teacher will most likely conclude with the sanskrit word, “namaste”. This loosely translates to “the light in me recognizes and bows to the light in you”. It’s custom for the class to bow and say “namaste” in response to the teacher.
Remember, if you believe you’re “too stiff” or “inflexible” to do yoga- then yoga is probably exactly what you need! EVERYONE starts off this way. Flexibility and strength take time, practice, and consistency but you will see yourself transforming if you stick with yoga long enough.
Above all, enjoy your time on the mat- it’s a beautiful opportunity to slow down, appreciate your life, and heal whatever ails you.