Your First Yoga Class: How To Prepare And What To Expect

Yoga is an excellent form of exercise for physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

Because yoga postures can be modified to suit any fitness or mobility level, its benefits are accessible to all. However, to reap yoga's benefits the poses must be done properly, and the most recommended way to acquire proper technique is learning from a certified instructor.

Prepping For Class

If you’ve considered going to a yoga class, but feel a bit intimidated at the thought of it, here are some tips on how to prepare for a class, and what to expect when you get there.

  • Studios. If you live in or near an urban area finding a yoga studio should be easy, and there may be several to choose from. You’ll want to inquire about the type of yoga emphasized at the studio, and if there are class offerings suitable for beginners. Also, make sure their schedule is compatible with your own.
  • Classes. Once you’ve chosen a studio, let them know you are a novice since they might offer price specials for beginners, and look for class descriptions using words such as “beginning,” “gentle,” “basics,” “introduction,” or “all-levels.” Ask whether a particular class requires props (blankets, straps, foam blocks, pillows) and whether the studio provides them.
  • Mats. You will need a yoga mat. If you’re exploring yoga as an exercise option, studios usually have some mats to borrow or rent, or you can purchase an inexpensive mat at discount stores. Many individuals prefer to buy one since the entire body comes into contact with the mat during workouts. Should you decide to stick with yoga, investing in a thicker, cushier mat might become desirable.
  • Clothing. Clothing needs to be loose, or flexible enough for movement, but not so baggy it gets in the way. Women typically wear a tank top or t-shirt with leggings or comfortable pants; men generally show up in t-shirts and elastic-waist shorts. Yoga is traditionally practiced with bare feet.
  • Gear. It’s best to arrive a few minutes early for each class, to avoid starting a session feeling rushed, or stressed. People typically bring only their mat, some water, and a small towel (for sweat) into the exercise area. Follow the studio’s protocol for where to leave your shoes and other items, or just do what your classmates do.
  • Territory. When entering the workout area, avoid stepping on other class member mats. Choose a spot where you can easily view the teacher, and unroll your mat so the edges curl toward the floor. Unless the instructor uses another arrangement, line your mat up with the those around you to create organized rows.
  • Manners. Communicate with the instructor before class—once the session starts, yoga manners call for quiet and attentiveness. Let the teacher know you’re a beginner, if you have an injury or mobility issue, or are pregnant. Should concerns arise during the class, raise your hand and let the instructor come to you.
  • Traditions. Some yoga classes start by chanting “Om,” traditionally considered the original sound from which all else arises. Many yoga sessions end with teacher and students saying “namaste” to one another. Namaste is an acknowledgement of the divine spark in each of us.

Do your best to attend class once or twice a week for several weeks. After the benefits of increased energy, strength, flexibility, and tranquility are noticed many novices become devoted, lifelong yoga practitioners. Maybe one of them is you.

Source: Karson McGinely/Chopra

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