When you're new, the scene at a yoga studio can feel intimidating! These 10 insider tips will help you feel more confident, comfortable, and prepared when entering class for the very first time.
- Don't take class on a full stomach: Trying to do yoga right after mealtime will hinder your practice. In order for your body to twist and hop into poses, the stomach can't be digesting something heavy. Yoga teacher Kristin McGee suggests eating an hour before practice, but if you aren't able to and are starving, she suggests having a banana no less than 20 minutes before class.
- Arrive early: Head to the studio at least 10 minutes before the scheduled class in case there's paperwork to fill out or if you want to ask about any introductory discounts for new students. Arriving early also gives you a chance to set up in a prime location and perhaps even connect with the teacher. Be sure to say it's your first time!
- Grab all the props: Make sure the studio offers yoga mats to rent if you haven't bought your own yet. Then, pick up whatever additional props are available. A strap, blanket, and block all offer something a little different to a beginner's practice, but each helps your body get into a deeper version of a pose. Straps and blocks give you a little extra room to twist, while a blanket will make all the seated postures — plus the final relaxation — even more enjoyable.
- There might be chanting: Depending on where you take yoga, there might be some Sanskrit chanting at the start or at the end of class. If you're not comfortable with this, there's no pressure to take part. Simply relax, breathe, and keep an open mind. If you're interested in trying, do your best to keep up with the class, but no one will notice or mind if you mess up a few words.
- No need for socks or gloves: Sticky yoga socks and gloves are marketed for yoga beginners, but there's no need to invest in either of these unnecessary yoga accessories. They provide your body with a false sense of being grounded into your mat, something that a consistent yoga practice will do naturally with time.
- Release the tension: Clenching your fingers, toes, or even your jaw is very common when you're first starting out. The more you let go and release this stress from your body, the easier every pose will feel. Keeping things loose and comfortable will allow for a better experience, and once you've chilled out, you'll find that you're able to hold poses for longer.
- Breath is everything: Pay attention to how shallow your breath is at the beginning of class and if it's deeper and more relaxed at the end of class. When you feel your mind wander, think about lengthening your inhales and exhales. It's the best way to calm down and dive back into your practice with a fresh outlook.
- Child's Pose is always an option: There might be yogis of all levels practicing in class, so if there's a pose you don't understand or aren't ready to try, don't be afraid to take rest in a gentle Child's Pose. This posture is always an option if you lose your connection to your breath during class. It will help you zen out and tune into your body's needs.
- Trust the teacher: Moving at your teacher's pace might be difficult. Regardless of whether it's feeling too fast or too slow, trust their choices for sequencing and do your best to stay on track with the rest of the class. Also know that some teachers will be more hands on than others. If you're not comfortable with touching or adjustments, there's nothing wrong with telling your instructor it isn't working for you.
- Be a beginner: In a few months, you might be taking every yoga push-up (Chaturanga) possible, but let yourself have the opportunity to be a real beginner! Revered in a yoga practice, the idea of a "beginner's mind" means heading to your mat with no preconceived notions about what you can or can't accomplish or poses you can or can't do. Keeping this positive outlook and leaving expectations at the door will result in the best experience possible.