What to Expect From Your First Yoga Class
You've heard a lot about Yoga. Your friends go on about it at length. You read about it in magazines & you see Yoga articles everywhere online. You're very interested in trying Yoga, but you probably feel like the only person on the planet who has never been to a Yoga class. You want to go to your local Yoga studio & try out one of their classes for beginners to see what Yoga is all about, but you don't really know what to expect.
If you haven't tried Yoga yet, don't worry about it. There are tons of people who haven't stepped foot into a Yoga studio. I teach a beginners' Yoga class & without fail, before a class, I receive nervous emails from people wanting to attend, asking questions about what their first Yoga experience will be like, what they should wear & how flexible they need to be to attend the class.
What You Need to Know Before Attending Your First Yoga Class
Don't be Nervous
If you've never tried Yoga, never been to a class or even tried Yoga at home, don't worry! Everyone has to start somewhere, & a beginners Yoga class is a great place to start.
When I teach a beginners' Yoga class, the vast majority of those attending the class have never been to a Yoga class before. Most yogis aren't yet familiar with the names of Yoga poses or other Yoga terminology. When I teach a beginner Yoga class, I'm very careful to go slow & I take the time out to explain the poses to my yogis. If you find yourself in a beginners' Yoga class where the teacher isn't patient & detailed, it's not you that's the problem.
In general, however, the Yoga community is a loving & accepting one. I've had students fall over, pass gas, burst out in giggles, struggle with their flexibility...you name it, I've seen it. What I've never seen in a Yoga class is someone laugh at another person, or even take notice when someone is struggling to achieve a particular pose. So, if you're nervous about attending your first Yoga class, don't sweat it. There will be plenty of yogis at the same skill level as you & no-one is going to laugh or make fun of you.
What to Wear
Another common question I get asked by my beginner or first time yogis is what they should wear to class. To be clear, you do not have to come to Yoga class decked out in Lululemon gear.
When it comes to attire for your Yoga class, the first thing you want to think about is comfort. You want to be comfortable in your clothing, but you also need to think about how your clothing will move as you move. A lot of students I teach will arrive in baggy & loose fitting clothing. This is fine, however, as you move into poses where your torso is lower than your waist, downward dog for example, a loose fitting shirt will creep up & perhaps reveal more of your body than you were intending to. My advice is to either tuck that shirt in, or wear a tighter-fitting top.
Another consideration when it comes to getting dressed for your first Yoga class, is how much you're going to sweat. Consider wearing clothing that wicks moisture away from your skin to avoid discomfort & chafing.
If you're worried you don't have the right clothing brand to wear to a Yoga class, however, don't worry about it. Your Yoga practice is about you & you need to be comfortable within. Don't worry about what others are thinking about you or how you're dressed.
What to Bring
I often receive emails from first-time yogis asking what they should bring to their first Yoga class. The answer to this question will depend upon which Yoga studio you will be attending.
In general, you should come prepared with a water bottle & a towel you don't mind sweating on. At my Yoga studio, we also have spare Yoga mats on hand just in case someone forgets their mat, or they're new to Yoga & haven't decided if they want to invest in a mat or not. At our studio, we disinfect our mats after each class with an all-natural spray made from tea tree Essential Oil, so our yogis know they are using clean & sanitary equipment.
If you're worried, however, I definitely recommend investing in your own Yoga mat. The type of mat you get is up to you. Yoga mats come in a variety of materials & thicknesses. The best one for you is a completely personal preference, there isn't one type of mat I recommend over another.
Not all Yoga studios have spare mats. If you don't have your own Yoga mat yet, I recommend calling ahead & asking if your Yoga studio has mats you can use.
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When it comes to Yoga etiquette, there isn't really a lot you need to know.
In general, it's a good idea to arrive 10-15 minutes early for your class. While I pride myself on providing a welcoming experience for first-timse & beginner yogis, one of the things I am very strict on is, once I close the door to the Yoga room, that's it, that's all. I don't allow students who arrive after I've started a class, to attend. My reason for this is to help myself & my students focus on their practice, without distraction & noise.
Aside from exercising good time management, I also recommend that first-time yogis set their mat up at the back of the class. This allows you to learn from your teacher & the other yogis in your class. On this note, you'll also want to ensure that you've set your mat up so that you are facing your Yoga instructor. I've had yogis set their mat up perpendicular to everyone else's which, in popular classes, means there isn't enough space for everyone attending the class.
Most Yoga classes will end with a pose called Savasana. Also called corpse pose, Savasana involves lying flat on your back, closing your eyes & relaxing into your breathing. This is a lovely & peaceful way to end a Yoga class. It isn't the best time to leave a Yoga class. I recommend attending classes only when you are sure you have enough time to stay for the entire class, but if you absolutely must leave before the end of class, it is definitely preferable to leave BEFORE Savasana. This will allow the other students to relax without distraction & get the most out of the pose.
Most Yoga studios also prefer that you take your shoes & socks off before entering the Yoga room. At my studio, we have cubbies in the lobby for people to put their shoes & socks. Cubbies are pretty common but, most Yoga studios don't have lockers, so I recommend leaving your valuables at home.
Tips For Your First Yoga Class
As a Yoga instructor, I LOVE it when first-time students introduce themselves to be before I start a class. I love welcoming my students to the practice & I love finding out their personal areas of difficulty, their unique concerns &, most importantly, their body's limitations. I definitely recommend introducing yourself to your instructor & letting them know about any injuries or limitations you have before class begins.
The most important thing I want first-time Yoga students to know is not to be scared. Yoga is a beautiful practice & every single yogi has had to start from somewhere. Of course, there are those naturally flexible & gifted students out there who can perfect a pose on their first try, but they're pretty rare & most of them aren't attending a beginners' Yoga class.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR - BRITTEN THOMPSON
Who is Britten? She's a reticent little beast born in the wilds of Northern Alberta to a foul-mouthed, French-Canadian father & an angry, stiff-upper-lipped mother. Britten is, almost always, wild-haired & poorly dressed. She recently left the beautiful & untamed chill of Canada for the blistering & somewhat oppressive heat of Australia. Her list of pastimes is short & includes reading, writing, petting cats, overeating & alphabetizing things. She's a fan of Windex on Facebook because who doesn't want a streak free shine? She dreams of one day writing a super-awesome novel that affords her & her partner a comfortable lifestyle, a large property, a few horses & the means with which to foster children in need...or just becoming a red panda.
When Britten isn't writing, reading, or organizing things in her home, she can be found cuddling with her boyfriend, arguing about why Rajon Rondo is the best point guard in the history of ever, browsing Gumtree for a future cat or kitten, or contemplating days gone by, the passage of time & how ridiculous it is that humans have yet to evolve enough to grow a third set of teeth.