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. That’s the beauty of the practice: it presents a new learning curve each and every time, no matter our level. If the postures and breathing feel strained to you at first, 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 follow a relaxed pace. There are plenty of flavors out there. Choose one that serves your needs today—your practice will evolve over time, and another style may serve you better later. If you’re just starting out, you’ll likely find it refreshing to try Level 1 studio and/or online classes. Not sure which studio options would suit you, ask the studio for advice. With online classes it’s of course easy: you can always press Stop and try another video.
Arrive 10–15 mins early (studio classes): You’ll avoid rushing (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. If you’re doing online classes on your own time, this point of course won’t matter.
Skip eating beforehand if possible: You’ll want at least 3 hours from a full meal and 1.5 from a light one). Otherwise, you’ll move sluggishly.
Remove watches/jewelry: 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 interfere with comfortable movement. We practice in bare feet most of the time (in Yin classes, we don’t move so much, so it’s perfectly fine to wear socks for those).
Listen to your body: If you have an injury or a physical issue, ask your doctor if it’s fine to practice yoga. If it is, and if you’re taking an in-person class, let the teacher know before class starts so that s/he can provide you with any alternatives. If something feels off during your practice, simply pause what you’re doing or adjust the pose. Never push your body—you’ll prevent injury by respecting your 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 can 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.
I hope these tips serve you well. Do you have a question about yoga that isn’t answered here? Email me, and I’ll aim to help you with that.