• Michele Burton

12 Things to Know Before Your First Yoga Class

  1. Don't eat just before a class: You will not get the best out of your yoga class with a full stomach and will feel especially uncomfortable in inverted poses or twists. It is best to eat an hour before the class, but if you can't wait then just have something light like a piece of fruit at least 20 minutes before the class starts.

  2. Arrive early: If you haven’t already completed the paperwork online then arrive at least 5 minutes before the class or earlier just in case you want to ask any questions. Arriving early also gives you a chance to set up in a prime location and perhaps even connect with the teacher. Be sure to say it's your first time!

  3. Props: there are generally spare yoga mats to use if you haven't bought your own , but if you are to become a regular you may want your own as it is more hygienic. A strap or tie, blanket, cushion and block all offer something a little different to a beginner's practice, but each helps your body get into a deeper version of a pose. Straps and blocks give you a little extra room to twist, while a blanket will keep you warm when your body temperature drops during relaxation.

  4. There might be: meditation, visualizations and mindfulness: If you're not comfortable with this, there's no pressure to take part. Simply relax, breathe, and keep an open mind. If you're interested in trying, do your best to keep up with the class, but no one will notice or mind if you mess up a few words.

  5. No need for socks, gloves or trainers: Sticky yoga socks and gloves are marketed for yoga beginners, but there's no need to invest in either of these unnecessary yoga accessories. They provide your body with a false sense of being grounded into your mat, something that a consistent yoga practice will do naturally with time. That said if it is particularly cold you may want to keep socks on for the first part of the practice

  6. Release the tension: Clenching your fingers, toes, or even your jaw is very common when you're first starting out. The more you let go and release this stress from your body, the easier every pose will feel. Keeping things loose and comfortable will allow for a better experience, and once you've chilled out and learn to use the breath to let go of tension, you'll find that you're able to ease into poses and benefit from a much greater stretch.

  7. Breath is everything: Pay attention to how shallow your breath is at the beginning of class and if it's deeper and more relaxed at the end of class. When you feel your mind wander, focus on your breath; think about lengthening your inhales and exhales. It's the best way to calm down and dive back into your practice with a fresh outlook.

  8. Child's Pose is a good resting pose: There might be yogis of all levels practicing in class, so if there's a pose you don't understand or aren't ready to try, don't be afraid to take rest in a Childs Pose. This posture is always an option if you lose your connection to your breath during class. It will help you zen out and tune into your body's needs. Leaning over a chair is another option if you have limitations.

  9. You don't have to keep up: Moving the teacher's pace might be difficult. Regardless of whether it's feeling too fast or too slow, trust their choices for sequencing and do your best to stay on track with the rest of the class. Adaptations are given so that everyone is included at different levels. Do not feel that you have to keep up, take things at your own pace and overtime you will improve, however force it and you will take a backwards step waiting for injuries to heel. It may be necessary for some individual attention but if you’re not comfortable with touching or adjustments, please let your teacher know.

  10. Be a beginner: You don’t have to do everything, just do what you are comfortable with and don’t be afraid to ask for alternatives if one has not been suggested. Most poses can be adjusted so that a chair can be used, so if you think you might need one have one ready at the beginning of class.Let yourself have the opportunity to be a real beginner! Revered in a yoga practice, the idea of a "beginner's mind" means heading to your mat with no preconceived notions about what you can or can't accomplish or poses you can or can't do. Keeping this positive outlook and leaving expectations at the door will result in the best experience possible.

  11. Relax: At the end of a yoga class there is a relaxation which varies in length, but generally between 10 to 15 minutes. This can be a guided relaxation of each body part or journey of breath or it may include a visualization to take you on journey to a beach, by a river side, a meadow, the top of a mountain or similar. If relaxing is hard for you focus on your breath every time thoughts enter you head.

  12. Enjoy and have fun: Yoga is non-competitive and it is best to leave any ego’s at home. Generally you are not alone as a beginner as there will be people from different genders, sizes and health limitations. A beginner’s class is generally relaxed, friendly and informal, so keep an open mind and have fun!!

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