So you’ve summoned the courage to try yoga — congrats! — but you aren’t quite sure what to bring to, or expect from, your first class. Don’t fret. We got tips from yoga instructors to help you survive and thrive in your first session.
Do Your Research
A quick Google and/or Yelp search can help you identify a yoga style, studio and teacher that best fits your fitness regimen and goals. Teacher and instructor bios online can also be helpful.
Consider finding something that is touted as a beginner’s yoga class or a hatha-style class that moves at a slower pace. If you’re an athlete, you might enjoy a vinyasa, Rocket or ashtanga class.
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If online sleuthing doesn’t do the job, consider asking friends who practice yoga for their studio recommendations. Better yet, ask them to join you for your first class to help calm your jitters.
Keep in mind that many studios offer complimentary classes and mats for first-timers, so check online or call ahead to see what’s available.
Keep an Open Mind
Showing up on the mat for your first class can be intimidating, and that’s OK. Try to channel your nerves into enthusiasm and remember to stay open-minded. Avoid having “built-up” expectations of either your body or the class.
The most important thing is to get in the room and show up for the experience. Everyone starts as a beginner.
Come Early and Prepared
For your first visit, a studio might ask you to set up an account and fill out a waiver, so plan to arrive 15 minutes before class. Some classes won’t allow late attendees, so get there on time. If you want extra assistance or have a preexisting injury, let your instructor know ahead of class. Alternatively, if you would prefer to skip hands-on body adjustments, let your instructor know before class to avoid any discomfort.
Dress the Part
Opt for athletic clothing that makes you feel confident and comfortable. You can be sitting inside a posture for five, seven, 10 minutes, so you want something that’s flexible.
Sweat-absorbing microfiber, or yoga leggings or shorts with some elasticity to be supportive, is a good idea. Also, be sure to check and abide by the studio’s dress code. Be wary of see-through leggings and super-short or super-loose shorts. Try bending or, better yet, practice stretching in front of the mirror before class to avoid unwanted flashes of body parts.
Bring the Essentials
Consider packing a mat (if one is not provided by the studio), a towel, deodorant, water and a change of clothes. Avoid lotion and makeup and try to stay hydrated before and after class to avoid achy muscles. Most of all, bring a positive attitude and an open mind.
Let Go of Self-Judgment
Although envy is very un-yogi-like, it happens, and it’s normal to feel that way during your first class. It’s daunting being in a room full of yoga practitioners of various skill levels. Feel inspired, rather than intimidated, by their peers. At the end of the day, you’re here for yourself and your growth.
Don’t Be Afraid of Falling
There is a high likelihood that you will teeter and totter and possibly fall during your first class. That’s normal. Like a baby bird coming out of its nest, you’re not going to fly your first time. Take a deep breath, get back up, and, when you’re ready, follow the teacher’s lead and get back into position.
Making these mistakes is part of the benefit of taking a class at a studio with a certified instructor. They can help you find the safest and easiest way to accomplish the desired poses without causing unnecessary stress or injury.
Be Patient With Yourself
Attempting a new workout regimen can be confusing, challenging and downright frustrating. Remember that getting comfortable with the practice and the poses is a process. Ask yourself, is it pain or is it simply uncomfortable. It may seem painful, but it’s just the feeling of discomfort from trying something new and different. Be at ease with yourself, don’t force things and remember to stay patient.
Stay for, and Enjoy, Savasana
Savasana, also known as the corpse pose, is a relaxing position usually saved until the end of class. It is considered one of the most important and restorative postures in the practice. Although it’s tempting to get up and leave, use the pose as an opportunity to rest your body and chattering mind before returning to the outside world.
Try to lie there and focus on the breath and the sensation in your body. Start to train the mind to rest. This is the reward for all the strenuous breathing and movements you’ve been doing for the past hour. You’ve earned this recovery time. Use it.”
Come Back Again
Was the first class not your scene? Try a different style of yoga or studio before calling it quits. After your first class, you might need some time to process and get over that original shock of how difficult the class was. Consider returning to the mat and begin setting reasonable, short-term goals. You’re not going to see significant changes unless yoga becomes a consistent part of your life.