I love doing yoga. I love what it does for my body in terms of flexibility and recovery and I love what it does for my mind in terms of relaxation and release. I have been practicing yoga off and on for about 4 years. I vividly remember going to my first class. Man, was I nervous. What should I wear? Do I need to bring water? A towel? A mat? Am I going to look stupid because I don’t know the poses? Yikes! Just thinking about it makes my palms sweat a little bit.
But I survived, and now I frequent yoga classes. By no means am I a pro, there are still plenty of poses I can’t even come close to getting into, but I do not regret going to that first class at all! Reminiscing on that feeling of nervousness walking into my first class has inspired me to write this post.
Before you take on your first class…
If you aren’t feeling as bold as me and willing to walk into a class blind, I have compiled some resources and videos to expose you to some basic yoga poses. Hopefully taking a look at some of these will help ease some of your fears.
Yoga Journal has photo examples of hundreds of poses ranging from beginner to advanced broken down by category. By no means should you look at all of them, but skim through them and familiarize yourself with some of the basics like downward dog, child’s pose, warrior poses, and others that you are sure to see in your first yoga class.
2. Try an online class, like this one:
3. Buy a yoga DVD or two and either try it at home or watch and learn. You can find beginner yoga DVDs at your local Walmart or Target or if you are willing to wait a few days for shipping, you can find several online on Amazon.
After you have done that…
1. Check out the different kinds of yoga. There is hot yoga, Bikram, Hahta, Power, etc., etc., etc. Find out which kind looks good for you.
2. Find a studio. If you live in a city, there are likely TONS of yoga studios in your area. Check some of them out and see what kind of style they do.
3. Sign up for a class! Try to get into a beginners class if you like or jump into an all levels class. All levels classes are just that, so you won’t be out of place as a beginner.
Bonus: If you can, find a friend willing to give yoga a try with you. Although yoga is a very personal practice, having the support of a familiar face in your first class can help ease some of the anxiety. I know it helped me to go with a friend the first time I went to hot yoga. It may work for you too.
What to do for your first class…
1. What should you wear?
For men, a baggy t-shirt and pair of shorts should suffice. For women, a tighter fitting top is ideal so that you aren’t constantly pulling your shirt down while you are upside down. If that doesn’t bother you, there is nothing wrong with a t-shirt. For pants, while yoga pants are ideal, I have seen others in sweatpants, shorts, spandex, you-name-it. Most of all, I would say whatever you are comfortable in and are able to move freely. No need to spend tons of money (however, I do love my lululemon tops and pants–>beyond the point).
2. What should you bring?
-Mat- optional, call ahead and see if the studio provides mats. If they do, you may not need to buy your own. If not, you can find a cheap one at Five Below, Target, or Walmart
-Towel- especially if you are doing hot yoga. But also not a bad idea for a regular yoga class because you will sweat.
-Water- staying hydrated is essential. It allows your muscles to stretch further, getting more out of your practice
3. Get there at least 15 minutes early. This allows you plenty of time to get yourself situated and ready for the class.
4. Introduce yourself to the instructor….
…Or, when he/she asks if it is anyone’s first class, speak up! Don’t be shy. More than likely you won’t be the only one. Don’t be afraid to ask for a little extra assistance in any poses. That is what the instructor is there for.
4. Don’t push yourself too far. If a pose is painful, ask the instructor for a way to modify it. Don’t feel discouraged if you can’t do the full pose on the first time. There are tons of poses I am not even close to being able to do.
5. Don’t forget to breathe! Many people hold their breathe when they first start practicing yoga, DON’T! I don’t expect you to perfect the breathing in your first class, but whatever you do, DON”T HOLD YOUR BREATHE.
6. Try to have fun. A new experience can be stressful and uncomfortable, but if you go into it with an open mind hopefully you can relax and enjoy it. Don’t worry about your lack of experience and be able to laugh at your mistakes. You’ll be fine!