Yoga as a form of exercise is catching up pretty quickly as more and more people begin to understand its long term benefits. Whilst yoga studios are filling up fast, you’ll still find many afraid to try it. Their fear stems from the misconception of yoga being too difficult or too glamorous. Images on Instagram do nothing to dispel that fear either. However, despite your initial reluctance if you’ve finally worked up that courage to sign up for your fist yoga class, here are a few things you should know.
Yoga is not just an exercise regime, it’s a lifestyle
Yoga has its roots in the Indus Valley Civilization. Ancient yoga was more about spiritual and mental wellbeing rather than fitness. However, yoga evolved over the years to encompass many other areas. Despite this, its basic foundation remains the same. Yoga focuses on consciousness, understanding how the body and mind coexist. This translates into eight different areas that unite to bring about a wholesome regime.
Many yoga classes in the West focus on just two of these areas, asanas (poses) and pranayama (breathing). Even if the studio you’ve signed up with only focuses on these areas, you can be sure that you will reap certain benefits. You can read up on yoga to understand the rest of the areas which are more holistic.
Choose the right class
Don’t sign up for a yoga class that requires a long commute, no matter how popular it is. You may begin your first yoga class with great enthusiasm but as time goes on, you may detest the commute. Apart from the convenience, it’s important to find a studio that caters to your specific needs. The vast variety of yoga styles will be quite overwhelming for a beginner. Call up your local studios and find out their recommendations for beginners. If possible sign up for a short term weekly or monthly beginner class to try it out. Once you’re comfortable with the class, you can increase the duration.
One of the most important aspects of a yoga class is to find the right instructor. Contrary to popular belief, a good yoga teacher does not need to look spiritual or athletic. The right instructor should be a practitioner of all elements of yoga. Someone who’s well-versed in yoga will be the ideal teacher. You can do a background check with the studio or look up the instructor online.
Reach your first class early
For a newbie it’s best to reach your class at least 10 minutes before the scheduled time. This will give you enough time to complete any additional paper work. It will also give you an opportunity to meet the instructor before class. Make sure to introduce yourself and inform the instructor that it’s your first time. Ask any questions that you need to before the start of class. Besides these formalities, arriving early will also give you a chance to choose an ideal spot for yourself.
Wear something comfortable and form fitting
Since it’s your first yoga class, you’re probably going to feel a tad nervous. Wearing the right outfit will go a long way in alleviating some of that fear. Leggings are the preferred choice along with a light form fitting t-shirt or tank top. If you’re more comfortable in shorts, that’s fine too. It’s easier to go through the poses when you’re dressed right. Although sticky yoga socks and gloves are advertised for beginners, there’s really no need for them. Some studios may have a dress code so check with them before your first class of yoga.
Bring your essentials
A yoga mat tops the list of yoga essentials followed by a water bottle for hydration and a small towel. While many studios provide these essentials, it may not always be the case. It’s a good idea to call up the studio and find out what they offer so that you’re well prepared. Although studios provide mats for rent, investing in a good yoga mat is the right way to go. Check out our suggestions on how to pick a good yoga mat.
Follow some standard etiquette
Many studios will lay out the rules for you but if they don’t, there are certain unspoken procedures that you should follow. Don’t bring any distractions like your phone or other electronics into the room. Most yoga studios are quiet places so respect the noise level.
Leave your shoes in the cubbies or outside the room so that they don’t get in the way. Also when arranging your mat, observe how others around have placed their mats. As the class fills up, don’t hesitate to adjust the placement of your mat if you need to.
Finally, as with any class conducted in a group, make sure that you’re on time. No matter how difficult it may seem to you on your first day, try to stay for the entirety of the class. Showing up late or leaving midway is distracting for the instructor and the class.
Be prepared to hear some foreign sounding words
Many instructors tend to use the original language of yoga, Sanskrit, for poses. Don’t let that intimidate you. Look around and observe what the others are doing and follow. Also, be aware that some studios may even begin or end the class with chanting. Just because you’ve signed up for the class, you’re not compelled to take part in everything if you’re not comfortable.
Don’t worry if a certain pose seems to difficult
On your first class of yoga, you may not be comfortable with all the poses and that’s absolutely fine. If you’re struggling with a pose, don’t stress. Wait in the basic Child’s Pose till the rest of the class is done with the routine. A good instructor will usually provide an alternative if they realize you’re having a problem. You can always address your problems with the instructor, later without disrupting the class.
Expect some soreness after your first yoga class
Yoga is not strenuous but it works on the muscles that are not used very often. For someone who’s not used to a regular exercise regime, you may feel a little sore after your first class. However, make sure that the pain you’re feeling is in the muscles and not your joints or ligaments.
Start with an open mind
Forget everything you may have seen or read about yoga. Enter your first class of yoga with the mind of a beginner. When you start with a clean slate, it’s easier to follow instructions. You don’t need to have any specified level of fitness or flexibility to start. Trust your teacher to lead you and you’ll definitely be showing up for your next class.