Preparing for your first yoga class? I can help! As a yoga instructor, I get a lot of first-time students in my classes. Since many of my students have never been inside a yoga studio before, I get to the privilege of teaching them how to show up prepared and ready to flow. Here are 10 things I think everyone should know before attending their first yoga class.
1. Arrive early
I like to show up 10-15 minutes before any class. This provides time to find parking, get checked in, meet your teacher, get a mat and props, use the restroom, and roll out your mat before class starts.
2. Wear comfortable clothing
You don’t have to wear “yoga clothing” to practice yoga but I’ve found that it’s very helpful to wear stretchy, form-fitted, full-coverage clothing that I don’t feel the need to touch or adjust during my practice. It is distracting to keep adjusting clothing during class. Over the past eight years, I’ve found that Lululemon sells my favorite yoga clothing.
3. Don’t buy a mat
If you are brand new to yoga you probably don’t have a mat, and that’s okay. Most studios have mats available to rent and offer new student discounts on top quality products such as mats, yoga towels, blocks, and more. I know it’s tempting to buy the $10 yoga mat at Marshall’s, but it may be wise to hold off. I recommend NOT purchasing a yoga mat until after you’ve taken a few different classes and here’s my reason why. Yoga mats can dramatically affect your class experience for the better or worse. I’ve used tons of different mats over the years (Target, Marshalls, Gaiam, Lululemon, Manduka, etc.) and have found that you really do get what you pay for. I love my purple Lululemon one! I know it also might be tempting to buy that super thick, squishy mat because it feels good on tender knees, but again, that’s not what we use to practice on in most classes. The thick foam actually makes it really difficult to find your balance and can be dangerous to try certain poses on. You can use a folded up towel or blanket under your knees during class if needed. The bottom line, wait to buy a mat until after you have taken a few classes and had a chance to try out different yoga mats
4. Bring a water bottle
Dehydration is a silent killer. Need I say more? Bring a water bottle with you to class.
5. Sit in the back.
Location! Location! Location! When you’re a beginner, I think it’s important to hear the postures being cued and see the postures being done properly. Most students think it’s beneficial to get a front-row seat so they can better see the teacher. Truth is, most seasoned teachers don’t do the yoga postures at all, they might sit or walk around the room and only give verbal cues. Which is great for listening practice but might be challenging for beginners. I remember during my very first yoga class, I tried to sit in the front row, so I could better see the teacher. Being the wise teacher that Bonnie was, she instructed me to move my mat to the row behind the seasoned yogis. She wasn’t being mean, she was helping me learn the practice. Thank you, Bonnie! I remember six months into my practice there was a brand new student in the class and Bonnie invited me up to the front row (because although I was still a beginner, I was the most seasoned in the class that day and she gave verbal cues most of the time). Now, when I take class, I like to float around the room and set up my mat wherever it feels best that day. For your first class, I highly recommend having a view of at least one seasoned yogi so you get the most out of your learning experience.
6. Listen well
Yoga instructors are trained to guide you through a class with verbal cues. A well-planned class will literally instruct and carry you from one posture to the next with clear, effective verbal cues. This is an amazing opportunity to practice listening to the instructions given as well as listening to your body’s response.
7. Bring an open heart and mind
I think one of the most important things we can bring to a yoga class is an open heart and mind. There are many different types of yoga classes being taught today. If we judge the entire yoga world by one class we didn’t prefer, we are doing ourselves a disservice. I encourage you to enter class with an open heart and mind! Yoga is a safe space where you get to come as you are, slow down, feel and reconnect mind, body, and spirit. It’s powerful to connect with the inner parts of yourself which are more accessible when we open up.
8. Allow yourself to be a beginner
It’s okay to not know how to do something. It can be uncomfortable and challenging to be a beginner, but I encourage you to laugh a lot, keep the tone light, and have fun. This is not the time or space to compare yourself to others yogis in the room or shame yourself in any way. Stay with your breath and let it bring you back into the present moment over and over. Truly, let yourself be new, be super kind to yourself, and have fun.
9. Ask questions after class
Most instructors are available right after class and love to answer any questions or concerns you have. It’s important that you do not ask questions or talk during class because it interrupts the flow. Feel free to ask questions outside the room after the class is over.
10. Notice how you feel in your body
I love checking in with myself after class and noticing where I feel more peace and calm in my mind, body, and spirit. There are so many wonderful benefits of practicing yoga and it’s the best to pause and savor them after you’re done with class.
I hope this list was helpful to you. Have fun as you begin this new journey into yoga.
Thank you for visiting kathryncarringtonyoga.com. Be brave, show up, and keep trying new things.
Thanks to my fellow yogi, Amy Chapoton, for this photo of me in one of my favorite places.