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.

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  • “Amber, you’re an incredible teacher! You are a natural at creating flows that challenge and inspire your students.”

    – Michelle G.C.

  • “I haven’t felt this good since I got my puppy, ten years ago!…”

    – Steve S.

  • I signed up for YTT thinking I had time to myself to focus on me, but the world has other plans. It’s still the best decision I’ve made, and I am so grateful that what I have learned has come to me at a time that I can apply it to so much real world trauma. This YTT has been a saving grace!

    – Kim T.

  • “My experience during my YTT at WYC has not only increased my confidence on the mat but has opened up endless possibilities and opportunities for a courageous, confident, and grateful life off the mat. “

    – Teresa F.

  • “Jay is a wonderful yoga instructor; has great variety in classes; is always dependable (there and on time); is kind and understanding; and always available to answer questions and give additional instruction if necessary. She is calm and classes are enjoyable no matter the challenge.”

    – Myndie S.

  • “Jay is an always-patient, highly skilled teacher who makes everyone feel welcome and able to participate. Her class is always a joy and rewarding.”

    – Barbara S.

  • “YTT provided me with the tools and knowledge to deepen my own yoga practice and help others with theirs. This program challenged me in unforeseen ways and I am so thankful to have experienced this journey with such incredible teachers and fellow students. It was truly a life-changing experience.”

    – Hayley P.

  • “Amber is an incredibly gifted instructor, particularly when it comes to yoga. She is calming, thorough, and provides that extra-added touch of essential oils, gentle adjustments, and themed practices. I love that Amber’s yoga classes are dynamic and she’s taught moves in her classes that I’ve never done in 15 years of practicing yoga. She’s a breath of fresh air in the yoga scene. I highly recommend her!”

    – Christine G.

  • “When I first began practicing yoga, it seemed like the more I learned, the more I wanted to know. I bought a few books but still didn’t feel like a real student of the practice of yoga. When the 200 hour YTT was offered, I saw it as the perfect chance to really expand my knowledge. I have come to realize that with this deep dive into the practice of yoga, I have a strong knowledge bank that will allow me to continue to expand my knowledge of yoga for years to come.”

    – Jann F.

  • “I woke up one morning and realized I was 60 years old, that I could live well into my 80s and that I had to do something to improve my strength and stamina if I wanted a good quality of life. I was caring for small grandchildren periodically, and it exhausted me.

    As soon as I saw Waynesville Yoga Center was opening, I came. I am so thankful to Jay for a place where I feel safe, not self-conscious, and where I can attend classes that benefit me without feeling in competition with anyone else. Restorative and Yin have improved my flexibility and meditation skills; Beginner Flow, Flow Level 1 and Gentle Chair Yoga have increased my strength and balance and also challenged me, as has Barre and Balance!

    I feel better than I ever have – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I have met so many new friends. All of the instructors I have had are wonderful and willing to share of themselves. Thank you, Jay, your endeavor is making a tremendous difference in so many lives!”

    – Terri M.

  • “With all of my health issues, I never would have believed I could ever learn to teach yoga. WYC’s Real Yoga for Real Bodies built my confidence as a leader, reminding me that my journey is my strength, and I will actually be a better teacher because of the challenges I’ve experienced. Thank you so much for creating a program that encouraged us to bring the beauty and the beast through this incredible transformation.”

    – CJH

  • “That special moment when your body, mind and spirit blend into a yummy synchronized yogic OHMMMMMMM……..yeah, YTT has given me like a hundred of those so far! You guys are awesome!”

    – 2019 YTT Student

  • “One of the things I have loved about the program is that we are not just learning how to teach certain poses; I have been learning things I didn’t even know I could learn about yoga in general, including about the subtle energies, how they tie to both anatomy and the philosophy of yoga.”

    – 2019 YTT Student

  • “I waited years looking for the right yoga teacher training program and WYC was definitely the reason why. I’m absolutely convinced I could not have found a program that was more creative, inclusive, or supportive. I would definitely attribute that to the meticulous design of the curriculum and incredibly talented teachers you brought in to lead so many cool facets of the course. You drew in some of the most amazing students with all this awesomeness and I’ve been so thrilled to learn alongside them this year so thank you, thank you, thank you for every last delicious bit of it.”

    – CJH

  • “WYC YTT has given me such tremendous depth in my practice of yoga on and off the mat. I’ve loved seeing my evolution this year as I learned all the ways I can add yoga to my home and work life. I started just expecting to build a stronger personal practice, but now I am so excited to see where this will all take me in the years to come.”

    – 2019 YTT Student

  • “Since I started taking classes at Waynesville Yoga Center, I can now go down the stairs ‘normally’, instead of one foot at a time. I’m really pleased with how these classes are helping me.”

    – Carol L.

  • “Jay takes time to answer questions, to give help when needed in performing movements and is a gentle, calm person which helps my yoga experience.”

    – Anita S.

  • “What has set the program apart for me, as well, is the approach to teaching that encourages us not to focus on a “perfect” pose, but rather perfecting a pose within our bodies and the bodies of our students. This means everyone’s expression of a pose will be slightly different, and there is such beauty in that. It runs counter to so much that we are taught elsewhere in life.”

    – Kristen, B

  • “Jay met me prior to class to help me polish my yoga teaching skills. I really appreciate her willingness to meet and teach me to make me a better instructor.”

    – Brooke H.

  • “Thank you all so much for offering this. It has truly been a gift in my life and I am very grateful to be part of this class!”

    – Kristen, B

  • “After my first private session with Amber my body felt so good! Because of her guidance and personal assisting I highly recommend working with her.”

    – Barbara B.

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