10 Tips for a Great First Yoga Class
1. Taking your first yoga class is a huge leap of bravery and courage. I hear all the time from newbies the fears they have of passing gas or really any emission of air either from either end in class. One helpful thing to keep in mind is avoiding any large or heavy meals for at least 2 hours before class! If you have to eat, keep it light. And if the worst happens, act casual and maybe they will think it was your mat neighbor.
2. Show up early. Make a point to come early to the studio, about 10-15 minutes, so you have time to sign in, get oriented to the space, meet and greet the instructor, and get settled on your mat with your props. This is a much easier transition onto your mat than coming in hot and frazzled.
3. Read the class description. I can not tell you how many times I have had people come to my classes and they just saw ‘yoga’ in the class description and assumed that was all they needed to know. There are so many different styles and levels of classes that it really helps to know what you are getting into when you take any class.
4. Leave your ego on the shoe rack with your shoes. It is always humbling to try something new and we are hard wired to want to keep up with everyone else and do whatever the group is doing, which is the opposite of what yoga is supposed to be about. Yoga should meet you where you are on any given day so remember to treat your body kindly and choose the pose variation that works best for your body. This is hard to do but essential for a safe and satisfying yoga practice.
5. Don’t talk yourself out of the props that you need. Props are an essential tool for many to find freedom and ease in many yoga poses, yet I find many will turn them down thinking that they are a crutch or only for beginners. If a prop makes any pose more accessible or comfortable then why deny yourself that help. You may not need them every time but when you do, use them!
6. You are flying the plane. I love this quote from “Your Body, Your Yoga” by Bernie Clark because it is an important reminder that YOU are in charge of your body and your movement. YOU know your body better than anyone and you can choose what works for you in any pose and what does not work for you in any pose. Instructors are just guiding you through a movement practice as opposed to drill instructors barking orders at recruits. YOU are in charge!
7. Know how you learn. For example, if you are a visual learner then choose a spot in the class room where you can SEE the teacher. I know it is tempting to hide in the back but you may struggle following along if you can not get a good visual. If you are an auditory learner, then position yourself so you can hear the teacher, especially if your hearing is better on one side than the other!
8. Bring your sense of humor. Yoga does not have to be so serious and intense all the time. It is ok to laugh at yourself when trying something new. Yoga can be awkward at times so why not embrace the awkward and have some fun with it!
9. Come as you are with an open mind and an open heart. The clothes don’t matter so much as long as you are comfortable and can move easily and comfortably. Having an open mind and heart to the experience of yoga allows us to shift away from judgment and criticism to a place of acceptance and peace.
10. Be here now! The main reason we practice yoga is to fully bring our mind, body and spirit into the present moment and live fully in that moment with awareness! The past moments have passed and the future moments have not happened yet. The only place to affect change is the present moment!
Jay MacDonald is the owner of WYC and has been teaching yoga classes for over 20 years. She started practicing yoga over 30 years ago after a back injury in her college days and has never stopped because yoga has kept her healthy and sane.
Jay believes that all of us stay healthier and happier by staying mobile and active as much as we can in whatever form that takes. Come visit her in one of her classes.