Your first yoga class - what you need to know and how to prepare
Let’s face it, yoga has been one of the most popular forms of workout for quite some time now. Ask anyone － your friends, colleagues, boss, parents or neighbors, no matter how young or old, there is a huge chance they regularly go to yoga or have at least tried it once or twice in the past. So if you still haven’t been to a single class, it’s time you start your adventure with yoga!
Of course, like with every other activity in the world, you need to try it first before you decide whether you like it or not. So even if you are super excited to start, don’t buy your yoga class year pass just yet.
Here are a few things to do and to consider before you go to your first yoga session.
Choose the right class
There are many different types of yoga and it’s worth trying out a few of them to see which you like the best. However, if you haven’t done any yoga before, it’s good to start easy.
There are three types of yoga classes you can start with:Hatha Yoga
－ this is a moderately intense type of yoga practice. It is slower than most popular yoga styles and it focuses a lot on breathing and proper postures, so you can learn most of the poses before moving on to more advanced types of yoga.
Yin Yoga － this is a slow-paced style of yoga. Yin Yoga is one of the best types of yoga if you are looking to incorporate meditation into your practice. It is a very relaxing form of exercise involving seated postures which need to be held for longer periods of time, up to two minutes. Because of its slow pace, it is a good choice for beginners.
Restorative Yoga － this mellow and slow-moving practice requires you to hold positions for longer periods and gives your body a chance to experience deeper relaxation.
Once you choose the type of yoga you want to start with, it is important that you find the right place to practice it. You probably have some friends who can recommend great places that offer yoga classes, so ask around.
But remember that while for some yoga is just a type of workout, for others it can be a more spiritual practice. Ask yourself what you are looking for in yoga － is it just a good workout that you are after? Maybe you wouldn’t mind some elements of meditation too? Or perhaps you would like to explore the entire philosophy behind yoga?
No matter what you are looking for there are lots of places that offer different types and approaches to yoga. So if you do your research and ask around you will easily find a yoga school or gym that offers what you need.
Once you have found the type of yoga you would like to try and found a place that offers classes, it’s time to choose the right level. And here is an important thing to remember － if you have not done any yoga before, always start with a beginner’s lesson!
It may seem easy but trust us, it’s better to start too easy than too difficult. If you were going to a Crossfit class would you like to end up with a super advanced group on your first day? Probably not.
So even though yoga might seem easier, or at least less demanding than Crossfit, advanced classes are usually quite challenging and you wouldn’t want to get injured in your first class, would you?
So start with the beginner’s class. If after the first one you feel it was too easy, talk to the yoga teacher and see if you can try something a bit harder.
Talk to the yoga teacher
In most yoga schools and gyms that offer yoga classes, instructors usually ask if there are any complete beginners. So when they do, don’t be shy. Raise your hand and let them know it’s your first time with yoga. The teacher will probably give you some useful tips and will pay extra attention to you during the practice.
Yoga might not seem too difficult at first, but it is a practice designed to involve your entire body. If you have any injuries, conditions or if you are pregnant, tell the yoga instructor before the class starts. There might be some positions you should not be doing, or at least you might have to do them differently. A good yoga instructor will know what you should or shouldn’t be doing in your condition and will adjust specific exercises to your specific needs.
Find proper clothing and equipment
If it is going to be your first yoga class, there is no need to buy all of the equipment. Most yoga schools offer everything you might need during the class － mats, blankets, belts, and blocks. So don’t worry too much about bringing your own equipment to the first lesson.
Once you decide you want to continue with yoga and start going to classes regularly, it might be a good idea to invest in some of the bits and pieces you want. Your own yoga mat would probably be the first thing to buy. It will give you comfort and you will be able to choose the size and type of mat that will meet your specific needs, and it will make the practice more enjoyable for you.
It is similar to yoga clothes. At first, you don’t need any special clothing to go to a yoga class. Your regular gym outfit will be just fine. The only thing to remember is that there will be quite a lot of stretching involved during the sessions, so make sure you wear something comfortable that allows you to move freely. Leggings are usually the best option.
Another thing to keep in mind when getting ready to go to your first yoga class is to wear layers. You will start the practice slowly, with a gentle warm up. It might take a few minutes before you feel completely warmed up, so to make sure you don’t get cold during the first part of the class, wear something on top, like a hoodie, that you will be able to take off easily when you feel warm.
At the end of most yoga classes, there is a section called “Shavasana” - or “Relaxation”. During Shavasana, you will lie on your back, with your eyes closed and arms and legs relaxed at your sides. During this time all you’ll have to do is focus on relaxing your body and mind. Your teacher will guide you through it.
During this part, you might feel a bit cold. Your warmed up body will need to lie still for a few minutes, so it’s good to have some layers to put on before you start your Shavasana. There may also be blankets in the room too, for you to cover yourself with.
And remember that during any yoga class you need to be barefoot. No exceptions! But if you like you can bring a pair of socks with you to put on for the Shavasana - the relaxation part of the class.
Don’t eat before your class
This is probably obvious for anyone who has ever done any type of workout before, but just as a reminder － don’t eat before the class! Even though there will be no running or jumping during the sessions, the positions you will need to hold can be quite demanding on your body. So don’t make it more difficult than it needs to be and try not to eat for at least an hour before your class. If you really need to, eat something light such as a piece of fruit or a small salad. Having a full, two-course meal before practicing yoga is not a good idea, trust us!
You need to remember to… breathe!
This might sound a bit weird, or even ridiculous, but try not to forget about breathing. Really! When you try new yoga positions they will probably feel a bit difficult at first. During the class, you will need to bend, stretch and arrange your body into strange positions and then hold them for some time. Most people focus so much on holding the position that they actually forget to breathe.
Surprisingly, it happens very often. Try not to forget about breathing － it can really help you, especially if you are holding a really challenging position. If you struggle to stay in a position for long enough, focus all your thoughts on your breath. It will make it easier to hold the position for longer!
Lastly, remember to have fun! There is a reason why so many people love yoga. It will leave you feeling relaxed and happy. So don’t worry too much about what to expect, book your class and enjoy it!