Trying new things can be fun. It can expand your thinking and skill set, and introduce you to new people. It can also be somewhat anxiety producing. If you’re thinking about trying yoga for the first time, it’s likely you have questions such as: What do I wear? What do I bring? What prior experience do I need? Should I already be able to touch my toes? Do a push up? Understand Sanskrit?!
Honestly, it depends on where you go and what class you take. Some studios are very welcoming to beginners, and others less so. Some studios may have beginner classes on the schedule, but studio culture dictates that students should get out of those intro classes and into those sweaty, fast flows ASAP. Other studios may not offer beginner classes per se, but are welcoming to beginners, and have instructors who will provide extra attention to new students as they acclimate and gain experience in more mixed-level classes.
It’s a good idea to call any studio you’re thinking about trying. Ask some questions. Find out what classes they suggest for beginners and what you can expect from your first class. Find out if the studio is a hot yoga studio or a non-heated studio. Do they provide props or do you need to bring your own? Is there parking? Do you need to sign up for classes in advance or can you drop in?
Once you do settle on a studio it’s advisable to show up a few minutes early to take care of any necessary paperwork and to let the teacher know that you are new to the practice. If you have a history of chronic disease or have an acute or lingering injury, you should likely check with your doctor before starting as well (and don’t forget to let the teacher know about these specifics too).
Some general suggestions for new students are:
- Find a style of yoga that works for you. There are many to choose from. You may need to experiment a bit at first.
- Come to class hydrated, and drink plenty of water after class too. It’s also best to refrain from eating for an hour or two before class. A full belly can make for uncomfortable postures. Wear comfortable clothing that can stretch easily, and remember to take your shoes and socks off before entering the studio space.
- Grab all the props that the teacher suggests for class. They can greatly assist you in both getting into and deepening the postures (also called asanas), as well as with relaxation.
- Choose a space toward the back of the room where you can clearly see and hear the teacher, but still see more advanced students in front of you; it often helps to see what other students are doing.
- Go at your own pace. You don’t have to do every pose that is offered. Rest when you need to. (Child’s pose, pictured above, is a good option.)
- Focus on the breath as much as possible. This sounds easy, but when you’re struggling to get your body into new positions, it’s not uncommon to hold the breath.
- Don’t be discouraged if it your first class was harder than you expected, or you couldn’t do what other students were doing. They were new to yoga once too. Consistency is the key to a rewarding practice. Keep going to class!
- Have an open mind. There might be parts of some classes that are foreign to you, ie, an opening or closing “om” or chant. There is no pressure to participate in these portions of class, but there is no reason to pre-judge them either. You may find you like them.
- Relax and enjoy yourself. Be a beginner. It’s only yoga. There’s no competition and it’s not about perfection. (That’s why it’s called a practice.)
If the above information still leaves you feeling less than prepared, try watching a few online yoga videos before your first class, or read some articles. Here’s a short list of postures that might be helpful to be familiar with:
- Mountain Pose
- Plank Pose
- Downward Facing Dog
- Upward Facing Dog
- Tree Pose
- Child’s Pose
- Chair Pose
- Eagle Pose
- Warrior I
- Warrior II
- Warrior III
It sounds cliche, but yoga is for everybody and every body. You’re no exception. So get into the studio and give it a try! You have nothing to lose, but have balance, strength, flexibility, and likely a new community to gain. The House of Yogi welcomes those new to yoga and most classes are suitable for beginners. We’re happy to answer your specific questions (email or call [619-786-7509] us!) prior to your first class or any time along the way. Our New Students Page is full of helpful advice as well.
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