I walked into my first yoga class with sweat in my palms and my mind flooded with all the things that could go wrong. My flexibility was little to NONE, and I was carrying around some extra padding.
I hadn’t practiced one move, but nervous anticipation hijacked my body.
It was my first adventure into the world of yoga. Finally, after all my research, reading, and recommendations from friends, I was taking the plunge. Excitement filled me, but I was still anxious. The unknown has a way of doing that.
I made it through the class unscathed – body fatigued, mind refreshed, and eager to return for more.
My pre-class research revealed key benefits, various postures, and different styles of yoga. However, I missed a few details that I wish I knew before walking into that first yoga class – things that could have improved my first experience.
Too nervous to start at a studio? Start online! Take This 30-Minute Beginner Yoga Flow (Free Class)
Here Are 12 Things I Wish I Knew Before Stepping Into My First Yoga Class:
1. Yoga is Not Your Conventional Gym Exercise Class
Yoga’s 5,000 year history demands respect. Eight principles from Patanjali’s Eightfold Path rest at the core of modern yoga. This philosophy provides a foundation for your total practice.
According to Patanjali, the postures of yoga (asana) are only one out of eight pieces of yoga’s totality. Unlike conventional exercise programs, yoga has elements that dig beyond the physicality of the movements.
With awareness of the philosophical backdrop, you can connect deeper early on.
2. Yoga Can Be an Intense Workout
While yoga is not like conventional exercises, it still is effective in getting your heart rate up, getting your blood circulating, stretching your body out, and strengthening your muscles.
The class worked me out.
3. Mind Matters
Even when my traditional workouts were challenging, I still watched movies, listened to music, and surfed social media. My mind was detached.
Yoga demanded something different from me – mindful movement. It was beautiful, and different, to check-in with my body while in motion.
4. The Perfect Posture Is Not What You Think
Each yoga posture requires discipline of the mind and the body. You don’t need 100 percent flexibility or strength to execute each position with technique. Form trumps depth when you first begin your practice.
This mindset creates the foundation for your practice to grow and deepen. It also sets your expectations. No one expects you to look like a yogi guru, so you shouldn’t either.
5. No One Is Grading You
When you walk into a yoga studio, the temptation may be there to compare yourself to others. But your practice is your practice. No one is grading you. They’re not looking at you for perfection. They’re too busy focused on their own practice.
As a bonus, classes at most studios take place in safe spaces and supportive environments.
6. Read Reviews
The studio you decide to pick for your first yoga class will color your experience. Make a wise choice.
Reading customer feedback is an excellent way to sense the feeling of a studio before diving into your first yoga class.
Here are a few questions to think about as you read:
- Is the general tone of the reviews positive?
- Does the studio offer any unexpected extra services that can enhance your experience? Like smoothies or aromatherapy towels after class?
- Is the studio clean?
- Is the staff welcoming?
- Do the teachers offer comprehensive instructions?
Once you narrow down a studio, be sure to check out the FAQs and resources on their website. Most studios provide helpful advice for first-time yogis on getting through your first class.
7. Come As You Are
A quick search on social media using #yoga will yield thousands of beautiful athletic bodies in perfect asanas (yoga poses). It can be intimidating as a first-timer.
A good yoga practice meets you right where you are. If your body is stiff and lacking strength, it doesn’t matter. Like other things you learn, you (your body) will work into the new knowledge of yoga.
Those social media pictures may also expose trendy yoga gear and paraphernalia. But you don’t need the cutest mat, or fancy water bottle to have a good practice. You are only required to show up and be present with an open heart.
8. Don’t Copy Your Neighbor
When you look at others, your attention shifts from you, where it should be. It may also tempt you to emulate their posture. But when you are a beginner, it may be challenging to identify someone whose asana is aligned versus someone who looks nice, but is not technically “aligned.”
So, you can look to get an idea of the form, but don’t get attached to a specific person or lose your focus. If you maintain awareness of your body and internalize the instructions given, many times, you will be able to find or adjust your posture by yourself.
9. Failure Is Good
During my first yoga class, I fell out of all the balancing asanas. The instructor encouraged me to jump right back in. You do the same, get back up and try again.
You can’t fail.
Your body may have some limits you were unaware of. Don’t fret. Make the necessary adjustments, remain present, do what you can, and move on.
10. Listening Is Key
Listen to the instructions given with your mind and your body. The dialogue of yoga teachers is usually filled with gems and nuggets.
They provide directions for both your mind and body. Do your best to make the subtle adjustments requested, like “tuck in your tailbone,” or “inhale through your nose, allowing your belly to expand.”
11. Leave Your Expectations Outside the Door
I spent too much of my first class, observing the things that I couldn’t do. It took some training and understanding to help me shift my mind to remain present in class.
I also had to find compassion for myself. My starting point was just that, only a springboard to begin my practice.
12. Dress Comfortably
I spent too much time in my first class adjusting my shorts. A one-hour yoga class in uncomfortable clothes can change your experience and reduce your focus. Make sure to wear something tried and proven to be comfortable.
The Takeaway on Your First Yoga Class
Yoga is a fantastic practice that synchronizes the mind, body, and spirit. Use these tips to enhance your first experience.
Remember to do your research, set your expectations to have a good experience, and relax and enjoy yourself.
With Leah Sugerman
6 Classes | Beginner