So you have decided to give yoga a try – that’s great news! Yoga is an excellent practice that, at the very least has many physical health benefits and is perfect for managing stress.
If it’s your first time attending a yoga class, it can be a little daunting not knowing what to expect and perhaps feeling slightly nervous or self-conscious about being the newbie. There is no need to worry, with a little research and planning you can make your first class something to look forward to – an adventure!
Here are some tips to help you choose a class and feel at ease attending your first class.
Choosing a Class
Know what you want to get from your class
People come to yoga for many reasons, from improving physical fitness to managing stress or chronic pain. What’s your reason? Knowing what you would like to achieve will help you make a good choice about what type of yoga class to choose.
Decide what type of yoga you want to do.
Some yoga classes are very dynamic, while others are slower paced, some yoga is taught in heated rooms – there are many types to choose from and you want to make sure that the one you choose will suit your requirements. If you are not sure, discuss your requirements with the teacher and they will be able to guide you in making the right choice.
Look for a Beginners Yoga Course
Many studios will run regular Yoga for Beginners courses. These courses are a great place to start! Not only will you be walked through the basics step–by–step, there is the added advantage of being in the company of other absolute beginners which can allay some of the nervousness around attending your first class,
Pick a class that is near where you live or work
You want to make sure that getting to a class is as easy as possible, so finding a class near where you live or work is a great idea. An internet search will give you a list of classes in your area or you may find classes advertised on a local community notice board or magazine.
Choose an experienced teacher
It can take a while finding a teacher that you really resonate with; even so, having an idea of a teachers experience and qualifications is a good starting point. Most teachers publish a bio on their website or advertising material that will tell you how long they have been teaching, their qualifications etc. It may even include testimonials from their students. It is important to understand that there is no regulation around who can be a yoga teacher – anyone can, so checking out a teacher’s bio will give you an idea of his or her skills and training and give you the confidence that you are going to someone who knows what they are doing.
Attending your first Class
Know what to bring
Many studios provide mats, blankets and any props you may need, but it’s a good idea to check in advance if there is anything you need to bring with you.
Wear comfortable clothing
What you wear may be dependant on what type of yoga class you are attending, for example if the room is heated, you will perspire quite a bit and may want to choose clothing made from fabric that absorbs moisture, whereas in an unheated room you probably don’t need to worry about that. No matter what kind of class, your clothing should be comfortable and easy to move in – don’t be fooled by marketing hype that you need to spend hundreds on fancy yoga gear – shorts and a T-shirt is fine! Depending on the season you may want to take a sweater and socks to put on during the rest period so that you don’t get cold.
Start with an empty stomach
It can be quite uncomfortable doing yoga on a full stomach. My recommendation is that you don’t have a meal at least 60-90 minutes before class. If you do need something, a banana or energy bar etc no later 20 minutes before hand should be fine.
Arrive a bit early
Arriving at your first class a little early will give you a bit of time to meet your teacher, change if you need to and familiarise yourself with the class space. Your teacher may have a form for you to complete so they are aware of any injuries/goals you may have etc. Make sure your teacher knows that it is your first time doing yoga.
Listen to your body
As experienced and knowledgeable as your teacher is, you are the one who has intimate understanding of your own body and it’s ability. Even if the rest of the class are quite happily doing a posture, if it does not feel right for you or if there is any pain, stop straight away. Your teacher should be able to give you a modification or even a different posture so that you can carry on comfortably.
Rest when needed
You want to make sure that you pace yourself during class so that you finish feeling calm and refreshed rather than worn out – you will be more likely to attend another one if you feel good at the end of class! Any time you feel that you are getting a little tired, breathless etc take a few moments rest, you will be in a much better position to continue if you do.
It’s quite common at first to hold your breath, particularly in more challenging or unfamiliar postures – try to remember to keep breathing as this will help you to remain relaxed. Keep your breathing comfortable and don’t worry if it seems as if everyone else is breathing more deeply than you – it takes time to develop your breath. Take secret breaths whenever you need too, stay relaxed and before long you be breathing like a pro!
Stay for the rest period
The final posture of just about any yoga class you attend is a resting pose called shavasana. It is probably the most important posture of the class. It’s during this rest period that your body is able to fully relax and receive the benefit of your practice, so enjoy!
Hopefully you will have enjoyed your first class and be motivated to attend more, but if for any reason you didn’t feel comfortable or enjoy it as much as you thought you would, perhaps give it another go. Often you will be more relaxed second time around which may make it more enjoyable.
If you don’t enjoy the second class, try a different teacher or a different type of yoga. There are many different styles of yoga and it sometimes be a matter of trying a few until you find one that you really enjoy. Remember, something called you to yoga in the first place so don’t give up.