...and what to expect.
Hello! I'm so happy to hear that you're finally giving yoga a try!
You've heard about it in the media, you've heard about it from friends, you've seen it in the magazines, maybe your doctor said it would be good for you... no matter how you found your way, I'm glad you're here.
Any time we try something new, we get a little anxiety about the unknown. I would like to set your mind at ease about being a beginner. Everyone, who has ever started anything, has always been a beginner. The same is true with yoga. We were all beginners at one point, just like you! I know I had some butterflies in my stomach when I walked into a room full of people I didn't know to do something I wasn't familiar with. So, I just want to let you know, we've all been where you are now.
AND. Being a beginner is AWESOME! Why? Well, because everything is new and exciting to you, enjoy that! Enjoy and embrace the excitement of learning a new skill. Now, that's not to say you won't experience some frustration, but that's okay too. You wouldn't be challenging yourself and growing if you weren't experiencing some frustration or even anger. It's all okay.
We are all beginners at some point, okay? Remember that. Yoga is a practice, a study, a journey. It is not a quick fix. It's a skill and an art. It takes time to become familiar with the postures (also called asanas), to develop awareness of our breath and our movement, and learn how to navigate transitions from one pose to another. Patience. You will get where you want to go.
If you haven't already, I would suggest going into the studio that you're thinking of practicing at and talking with one of their representatives. Now, that could be the person at the desk, a teacher, or best yet: the studio owner. They are going to be able to answer all of your questions and help guide you in choosing the right class to ensure you have a pleasant experience. Nothing makes my heart hurt more than hearing about a bad first time yoga experience.
If that's not an available option, then find a "Yoga Basics" class and start there.
Okay. So you've got your location and your class and your time picked. Sweet! What's next?
1. Wear comfortable clothes that you can move in.
Pick a shirt that isn't really flowy - if it's too loose fitting, and you bend over, and it wants to fall off of you - that's going to get annoying. A regular t-shirt should do just fine. A lot of people don't wear socks because the mat can be a little slippery with socks on. They make it harder to keep your balance and hold the posture. You're welcome to wear socks, just giving you a heads up as to why most people don't. I usually start wearing them, take the off during the middle bit, and put them back on at the end of class. Up to you :)
2. Arrive 15 minutes early.
This should be a regular goal, but it's especially important for your first class. This allows you to complete any necessary registration, pay, find out where the bathroom is, just orient yourself in general, and not feel rushed. Also. Insider tip: you get to pick the PRIME spot in the studio room if you get there early!
3. Leave your phone, purse, and keys outside of the studio room.
Please don't bring all of your stuff into the studio room. It's distracting and you don't need it. Leave your phone and purse in your car if you're uncomfortable leaving it in the coat area. Especially if you forgot about number 1 and you're running late. It's disrespectful to the other students and the teacher to bring noisy items into the room with you. Please be thoughtful about this. It's very important.
4. Introduce yourself to the teacher (if they don't introduce themselves) and tell them it's your first class.
Also, tell them of any injuries or body/health issues you're dealing with so that they can help you. We don't want anyone to get hurt or do unnecessary damage, that goes against the main goal in the first place: to feel better!
5. Ask if you need any props.
Props include: blocks, blankets, straps. Props are also awesome, just like beginners! Truly advanced students know how, and when, to use props to help support their body and to stay safe. Props are designed and used to facilitate gentle and safe progress in yoga postures. Blankets are 1. comfy to sit on and 2. warm. I'm a cold-body so, sometimes I use the blanket at the end of class to stay nice and warm :)
6. Pick your spot.
Avoid rolling your mat out into the air like you're shaking out a sheet, just set it down on the floor and unroll it.
7. Wait for class to begin.
Here it is! You're first class! That's so exciting! You can sit, or lay down... just make yourself comfortable. Sometimes other students are chatting around you, sometimes everyone is quiet on their mat, sometimes the teacher is engaging in conversation, sometimes music is playing, sometimes it's silent, just depends on the day and the vibe.
8. Sit tall, focus on your breath, and enjoy the experience.
Remember, you don't have to do everything the teacher says. And if they disagree with that, please find another teacher. Also, if you have a question during the class, feel free to grab the teachers attention and flag them over. Let them know if something bothers you, if you're not exactly sure how to position your body, etc. Just ask!
9. The end: savasana (sha-vas-ana).
Savasana is the final resting pose. Typically you'll be here anywhere from 5-10 minutes, depending on the class and the instructor. This is the. Most. Important. Part. Why? Because this pose allows your body to absorb, and integrate, the movements and breath exercises you've just practiced. It may be challenging at first to relax, but I promise you, you will come to loveee this pose. Like I mentioned earlier, patience. You will get there with practice. The challenge here isn't physical, it's mental. Just focus and observe the breath and relax as much as possible.
10. The End End. Namaste. (na-ma-stay)
Namaste is typically said at the end of a yoga practice. The instructor will say it first and the participants will say it back. While our hands may be in "prayer" at our heart center, please remember yoga is a secular, non-denominational practice. If you practice a religion, please do not be afraid to participate in this mutual sign of respect. That's all it is. It's the instructor saying, "I respect you." And then you returning that by saying, "I respect you too." A phrase usually associated with the word namaste is "The light in me honors and bows to the light in each of you," or something along those lines, maybe not the exact same wording. But the message is the same, again, it's a sign of respect that we cultivate in the studio and our yoga practice.
Everyone is welcome, there is no judgement, we all respect one another.
So, how was it??
Let me know!
I hope it was inspiring and exciting and lovely and that you go back for class number two, three, four, five, seventeen, thirty, sixty, and so on!
Yoga is an amazing tool that is available for us to use in our daily lives. It starts on the mat in an environment that is nurturing and supportive, full of knowledge and learning, and through regular practice becomes this force within us that is encouraging, makes our body feel better, makes our mind more peaceful, and teaches us to find our strength and be true to our self.
Hopefully you found this helpful and are feeling confident for your first yoga class. YAY! So exciting!