A Guy’s Guide to Attending a Yoga Class
Yoga is an extremely popular activity, & unless you have been living under a rock on a deserted island with your fingers in your ears for the past few decades you have most certainly heard all about Yoga’s many benefits. Great for your health, check. Improves flexibility & performance in almost any other physical activity, check. Reduces stress & relieves tension, also check, great to brag about to wom... I could go on about why you should do Yoga all day, but you already know that you should be doing it, that’s why you are reading a guide about attending a class, I am here to walk you through actually getting off the couch, getting into a studio & hitting the mat.
Like any endeavour preparation is key. You will have a much better experience if you take the time to find the right class, show up in the right clothing, & have some clue about what you are in for.
A How-To Guide for Attending Yoga Class as a Guy
First, you need to Find the right yoga class
If your current fitness level is hovering around “long term coma patient” then a full on hour & a half Bikram Yoga class held in a room heated to 105f (40c) is not going to be a pleasant experience. One of the best classes for beginners is Hatha Yoga. This style moves at a slow pace holding each pose for an extended period, & allows you to have a quick look around at what everyone else is doing, while you work on becoming familiar with each pose. Any class targetted at beginners is a safe bet, & letting the teacher know you are new to Yoga before the class starts will ensure they keep an eye on you & make any corrections needed. So now you know which class to head to, the next question to ask yourself is “what on earth will I wear?”
What on earth shall I wear? Don’t let a wardrobe malfunction ruin your day
When it comes to Yoga some people treat it like a fashion show, spending hundreds of dollars on the latest Lulu Lemon or the like, but it really just comes down to two things; comfort, & function. Now if you are a regular gym goer chances are that whatever you wear to workout will work just fine for a Yoga class, with a few additional considerations. Yoga practise involves a lot of bending, twisting, stretching, & generally putting yourself into poses you would never usually encounter outside of a skiing accident, & as such you are going to need room to move in your clothes. Now at this point I feel I need to mention spandex & all its skin-tight cousins. If you are a Yoga master with the body to match, then go ahead, slip into something skin-tight & stretchy, it will give you a full range of motion without getting in the way of your warrior two. However, if your build is a little less Yoga master & a little more Yogi bear, I’d suggest leaving the spandex alone for now, & going for some loose fitting athletic shorts, with a fitted but not skin tight shirt, this way it won’t slide down over your head when you are hitting that forward fold, but will still give you plenty of room to move. Since even a slow moving Yoga class will get your heart rate up, wear something that you can sweat in without having to wring it out mid -class, any kind of moisture wicking material will do wonders for your comfort levels. So now you're dressed & heading to class, what now you ask? Well it’s time for some etiquette.
Breath deeply into your chakra and enter the studio
As you arrive at the studio you are undoubtedly going to notice two things. The first is that there is a large room with a wooden floor & no furniture, & the second is that this room is quickly filling with gorgeous women in skin tight outfits. Now one of the key points in this guide is this: Don’t be THAT guy. Don’t be the guy who is obviously only there to leer at women while they are doing their practise. If your mat ends up with more drool than sweat by the end of the class, you're doing it wrong. You look like a total creep, so just don’t do it. That being said you will be in an environment full of women doing poses & wearing clothing that often perfectly showcases exactly what a diligent Yoga practise can do for your body, & the results can be quite stunning indeed. Just keep it classy, while a quick glance at her downward facing dog is fine, any prolonged staring, or modifying your position for a better look (they WILL notice you doing it) comes off as creepy & gross, so just focus on what you are doing, be a gentleman, & you will be appreciated & welcomed to the class.
Now that the pervy elephant in the room has been addressed, we can talk about getting your mat set-up. You will either need to bring your own mat, or they will be supplied by the studio. If it is your first class most places will have a loaner mat you can use, but purchasing one of your own can be a good incentive to keep attending class. It is also great to have your own mat if you ever want to bust out a quick series of poses at home, a few quick sun salutations in the morning can get the blood flowing & have you floating into work on a cloud of self-improvement.
Props maketh the man
Many Yoga studios will have boxes or piles of props in one corner. These can include foam blocks, canvas straps & big heavy pillow looking things called bolsters. If you are a about as flexible as a Russian prison guard then I suggest grabbing at the very minimum a strap & a pair of foam blocks. The teacher will usually guide you on any additional props needed for that specific class, but the bare minimum of blocks & strap can modify a pose from “no way” to “uhh, kinda?” Yoga teachers are generally good at noticing someone struggling with a pose & offering modifications. If you have let them know you are a complete beginner they will already have an eye one you & offer advice before you go attempting something too advanced.
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Ain't nothin to it but to do it
So there you have it, you are now ready to join the millions of people improving their lives through Yoga. Just remember to start slow, choose the right class, dress for the occasion & not be a creep & you will be a welcome addition to any Yoga class.
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