Have you been inspired to try a yoga class but aren’t sure what to expect? Before attending your first class, there are some tips that are helpful to know to ensure you have a great experience. Have a read of the five insights below to give you an idea of what class is going to be like and how you can prepare.
1. Arriving a bit early: Teachers love when students show up 10 or 15 minutes early to get their props and set up shop before class begins. It is often distracting to the teacher and other students to have someone come in late, moving around and setting up when class has already begun. Try arriving a bit early to class. This will give you time to set up your mat, ask the teacher what props are needed and introduce yourself if you are new.
2. Shoes and socks aren’t necessary: Unless you are a professional yoga teacher or lifeguard, you probably spend most of the day in your shoes. Being barefoot feels unnatural to some people, but when you enter a yoga studio, it is common courtesy to slip off your kicks so you’re not tracking in outside dirt. Bare feet help you find a stable, balanced connection with the floor which is essential for standing and balancing poses. While shoes are a bit cumbersome, socks are slippery and don’t give you much traction. Working barefoot can also help strengthen and stretch the muscles of the feet encouraging the maintenance of arches.
3. Movement Modifications: Freaked out by all the hyper-flexible individuals who seem to live in the shape of a pretzel 24/7 while simultaneously posting on Instagram? Do not fear! Most yoga students (and yoga teachers I might add) are not hyper flexible. Those teachers that are quite bendy should make sure to demonstrate poses appropriate for the ability level of the class. If poses are inaccessible to some students (and if you are concerned you may be one of these students), don’t worry! Modifications will be given and you won’t be left behind. There is always a modification or a different pose that can give you similar benefits to the full expression of a pose. And FYI, if you are uncomfortable in a pose or simply don’t want to do it, that’s ok too. Taking Downward Dog or Child's Pose, no matter what the rest of the class is doing, is often suggested as a supplement to a pose you are uncomfortable or don’t feel up to doing.
4. What to Bring: The good news here is that most yoga studios do not require you to bring anything for class except yourself. Students tend to bring their own mats but often, studios provide these. Any other props such as blocks, straps, blankets or bolsters should be provided by the yoga studio. If you feel you may get sweaty, bringing a towel and a water bottle is a good idea.
5. What to Wear: Really loose, baggy clothing is not appropriate for yoga. That being said, you don’t have to wear spandex! You want to be able to move easily and be comfortable. Also, the teacher needs to be able to see the alignment of your body. If you are not aligned correctly, you may injure yourself. Often, teachers will come around and give adjustments to make sure you stay in proper alignment. Most importantly, you want to feel comfortable and confident, so make sure you wear something you feel good in! (Kmart has some great, affordable yoga clothes for both men and women)
6. Disclose any injuries or pregnancy: Yoga teachers should ask every student whether they have any injuries or are pregnant prior to the commencement of class. If you have an injury that is personal and need to it disclose with the teacher, I would suggest arriving early and doing so. If you have any mobility issues, let the instructor know so they can move you into modified poses that may be more appropriate for you. If you are pregnant, the teacher wants to do everything possible to ensure you and your baby stay safe. They will offer modified poses based on the stage of your pregnancy to ensure you have a comfortable and safe practice.
It is so important to remember that if you are attending a beginner’s class, you are not the only person there who has never done yoga before. Don’t worry if you aren’t very flexible or don’t feel confident. Just keep the above tips in mind and you will start off your yoga journey right!