Yoga is for everybody—but it can be intimidating if you’re a beginner. As we often say in class, “the hardest part is showing up to your mat.” Even if you’re already fit and healthy, there are so many benefits to yoga, including stress management, mood enhancement, better sleep, and increased flexibility, strength and balance.
The best way to learn yoga is by doing it. If you’re preparing to take your first class, here are some tips to take into consideration before your first flow.
Begin Where You Are
Research the studio and class type. Look into the studio and read up on their philosophy, teacher backgrounds and the class types they offer. As a beginner, you may want to start with a non-heated class and look for a hatha or vinyasa style class.
Try a beginner yoga video at home. There are countless online resources for yoga now—just search “beginner yoga flow” on YouTube and follow along from home.* Knowing the basic poses will help you to feel more confident going into your first class.
Touch base with the instructor. If you let the instructor know before class that you’re new to yoga, they will be aware to offer additional cuing and hands-on adjustments for poses as needed. It’s also important to let your instructor know if you have any injuries or are pregnant, and how you feel about receiving hands-on corrections.
Listen to Your Body
Don’t forget to breathe. Breath plays an integral role in the physical practice of yoga, yet this is what most beginners first lose during class. Tune into your breath at the beginning of class, and stay connected to it. Return to it when you feel lost or feel like giving up.
Stay positive. If the teacher is cuing a pose you’re not comfortable with or doesn’t feel right in your body, don’t do it. Remember, breathe. Don’t get frustrated with yourself or embarrassed. Yoga is a personal practice, and you will always be learning and growing in your practice. No one is a perfect yogi.
Look and listen. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by the other bodies in the room, but do observe them as reference for when you are not sure of correct alignment in a pose.
Arrive early. It is always good etiquette to arrive to class at least 15 minutes early, so that you can set up your mat and have time to physically and mentally warm up for class.
Silence or leave your cell phone outside. If you can avoid bringing your cell phone into class at all, do it. Leave that distraction for after class. If you must bring it with you, please silence it and avoid using it during class.
Don’t skip savasana. The part of class that most new yogis struggle with the most is savasana. Laying completely still and silent in a room full of people can be uncomfortable for some, but the best thing you can do is to embrace the stillness.
*While a home practice is important, there is no substitution for in-person group classes. Not only will it benefit your practice to have an instructor with eyes on you to help provide alignment adjustments, but the energy you exchange when you share your practice with fellow yogis is unmatched.