I was really lucky when I started yoga because it was part of a class for school, so we were pretty much all new to yoga. However, when I went to my first yoga class at a gym, it was very different.
Even though I was familiar with the typical format of a yoga class, I still felt very intimidated walking into a room full of people who seemed to be experienced yogis. They even had their own mats!
Since my first non-school yoga class, I’ve gotten more comfortable in the studio, and I’ve learned a few tips that make your first yoga class a little easier. Here are my five top tips for people who are about to head to their first yoga class:
Whenever you’re attending any kind of class for the first time, it’s best to show up five to ten minutes before the class actually starts. This gives you time to get a mat if you don’t have your own, find a place in the studio, and talk to the instructor.
ALWAYS TALK TO THE INSTRUCTOR!
Most of the time, instructors will ask if anyone is new to the class, but I think it’s best to be proactive and introduce yourself first, just in case they forget to ask or don’t notice any new faces.
When the instructor knows it’s your first time taking a yoga class, they’ll be able to give you a little extra attention and make sure your form is right in different poses. It can be nerve wracking to go up and introduce yourself, but you’ll have a better experience all around if you do.
Get in the Middle
It’s tempting to hide in the back corner during your first class. It’s best, though, to park your mat somewhere in the middle of the room. This way, no matter which way you turn during the class, you have someone to watch. It’s easier to keep up this way, and you won’t be craning your neck trying to figure out what’s going on.
When you’re new to a class, you usually have to do a little more watching to figure out what you should do next. This is totally normal, and it’s fine to do. But, don’t worry if the pose you’re doing doesn’t look exactly like someone else’s.
Everyone is on a different level, and that’s okay. If the person next to you has been practicing for ten years, they’re probably going to be more flexible than you. Don’t try to surpass them right away, or ever.
Don’t try to surpass them. Instead of trying to be better than the person next to you, see them as inspiration. Set a goal to one day be able to do what they’re doing.
At the same time, remember that, even if someone is deeper into a pose than you or is holding a plank on their toes while you’re on your knees, you’re both experiencing the exact same sensation. Focus on sensation rather than appearance, and, over time, you’ll see yourself improve in a safe, sustainable way.
If the studio you’re visiting offers props like blocks and straps, use them. They’re there to supplement your practice and help you with poses that might not be accessible to you yet. Blocks are great if you can’t quite touch the floor in certain poses, and straps help in seated poses
Think of props as extensions of your own limbs. Blocks are great if you can’t quite touch the floor in certain poses. Straps help you reach your feet in seated poses, and they’re also great if you can’t clasp your hands together in bound poses.
Don’t be embarrassed about you props. You should never be ashamed of being aware of your body and its limits. Do what you need to do to get the most out of your practice.
It’s easy to get frustrated during your first yoga class. You can’t figure out who to get from one pose to the next, the instructor’s moving too fast, you’re sweating profusely and no one else seems to be.
When you catch yourself getting overwhelmed or stressed out, take child’s pose and breathe. Remember why you came to the class in the first place, and remember that everyone has to start somewhere. It takes time to master transitions and figure out the pace of the class, but you will improve with time.
Don’t give up. And, no, taking child’s pose is not giving up. You’ve only given up if you leave the class early. As long as you stay on your mat and do your best, you’ve had a successful class.
If you’ve wanted to take a yoga class but have been too nervous, keep these tips in mind and just do it. Your body, mind, spirit will thank you!
Come back soon!