New to yoga? 10 Tips on How to Feel Comfortable in Your First Public Class
Going to a yoga class for the first time can be daunting. Will I be fit/ flexible enough? Will I need to sing Om and do all sorts of hippie things? Do I need to buy a Lululemon outfit? What about a mat?
Here are some tips which can help you prepare for your first yoga class:
1. Cloths - You don't need to buy an outfit, just use comfortable cloths which will allow you to stretch. In most of the classes you will find women wearing tights or sweatpants and T-shirts or tanks, men often come in shorts and T-shirts.
2. Mat - Most yoga studios either rent mats or lend them for free. If you are a beginner, I suggest you wait with buying a mat for after you fall in love with the practice...
3. Food/ Drink - In most yoga studios, students will not drink or eat throughout the class (apart from hot yoga where you usually are advised to drink during practice). Make sure you drink enough water throughout the day so you come hydrated to class. You should probably avoid eating a large meal for about two hours before class, but if you feel hungry, you can eat a fruit or some nuts just before class.
4. Manage Expectation: Check with the studio prior to booking your class about what type of yoga is offered and if the class is for all levels and suitable for beginners.
5. Where to place Your Mat - Try to arrive a few minutes earlier. Place your mat towards the front of the class, preferably in the second row and not the furthest to the side. (You want to be able to see the teacher and the students around you. It will help you understand what the teacher is asking to do). Inform the teacher that you are new to yoga. If the teacher asks you to move to a different spot it is only because they want you to be able to see better. Some teachers demonstrate most of the poses and some give oral cues. You don't need to know anything before you start.
6. Introduce yourself to the teacher - Tell them about major injuries or pain which is still affecting you today. They might offer some adjustments for you during the class in order to keep you safe.
7. OM - In many classes the class will open with chanting OM together. If it feels too awkward, you don't have to join the chant. I find that Omming really helps me to put my day behind and focus on the yoga practice.
8. Fitness and Flexibility - Most of the yoga classes are for all levels. You don't need to be fit or flexible. As you gain experience you will be able to go dipper into the poses.
In some poses the teacher will give a few options on how deep to take the pose. You should choose any options which feels right for you. Also, it is very common in a yoga practice to stop and come to "childs pose" until you feel recovered and then continue doing what the rest of the class is doing.
The day after your first yoga class you are likely to be feeling muscles in your body that you forgot existed. (Be nice to them and say hi again, sorry I abandoned you, nice to feel you again...)
9. During class - Focus on Yourself - This is essentially yoga. Focus on your own mind and body rather than comparing yourself to others. Look to see what others are doing if you are not sure what the instruction is, but don't expect to have the same shape of pose, all bodies are different (and this is your first class).
10. Congratulate yourslef - Acknowledge that starting something new is a brave thing to do and thank yourself for doing something for yourself.
If you have any comments or questions about going into a public yoga class for the first time, please write them in the comments below.