We all start at the same place: Square 1.
Every time I roll out my mat, I feel as if I’m coming to yoga for the first time. Ditto for when I sit at the front of the room as the teacher. That’s the beauty of yoga: it presents a new learning curve each and every time, no matter our practice level. If the postures and breathing feel strained to you, that’s OK. That will change.
These tips will help you prepare for your first yoga class:
- Research the class/teaching style in advance. You know better than anyone on the planet what your body and mind need. Some types of yoga are physically demanding, while others are more meditative. There are plenty of flavors out there. Choose one that serves your cause today—your practice will evolve over time, and another style may serve you better later.
- Arrive 10–15 mins early. You’ll avoid rushing (remember, we’re slowing down to smell the roses!). Being on time and 100% ready shows respect for the other participants and your own practice. Some studios may ask you to reserve your mat space in advance, so it’s a good idea to check the pricing and schedule pages of their websites.
- Skip eating beforehand if possible. You’ll want at least 3 hours from a full meal (1.5 from a light one). Otherwise, the body will move sluggishly.
- Leave watches/jewelry at home (or remove before class). It’s better to practice without distractions like noticing the time or hair getting caught in earrings.
- Wear comfortable clothes. Nothing fancy, just gym-like clothes that don’t restrict movement. We practice in bare feet.
- Listen to your body. If you’ve got an injury or a physical issue, let the teacher know before class starts so that s/he can provide you with alternatives if needed. If something feels off during class, simply pause or adjust the pose. Never push your body—you’ll prevent injury by respecting your body’s natural limits.
- Consider the purpose of yoga. Many yoga classes focus heavily on poses, but the physical postures are just one aspect of the practice. While it helps keep the body running smoothly, yoga is about having good relationships—with ourselves and others, with all of life. It is also about developing the courage to be our truest, most compassionate selves.