What You Need to Know to Rock Your First Yoga Class
Read on to get the JUICY details...
When I first started exploring yoga all I knew about it was that it was supposed to be a great workout and that it would help me get stronger. I started going to classes at my university gym, not really knowing what I was doing, but I liked it enough to keep going. Shortly after, I moved to Austin and my new room mate practiced yoga regularly. I started going to classes with her and that's when my yoga journey really began to blossom.
The word “yoga” translates to yolk which further means to join up or to sync body, mind and soul.
What I discovered in time was that this practice has ancient roots and is SOOOO MUCH MORE than just a physical practice. Yoga allows us to bring our awareness from the external to the internal. By connecting to the flow of our breath, we are able to observe our current state of being, giving us the tools we need to know ourselves more fully. It gives us the opportunity to examine our relationship to our SELF and to find new ways to grow, change and improve.
Bonus! It's also an amazing full body workout!!!
Starting a new yoga practice can be intimidating, especially if your impression of it is based on models and expensive clothing, or crazy images of people with their legs, seemingly comfortably, behind their heads. I mean, How are they doing that?! And Why?!?!
If you are thinking this is SO NOT YOU, fear not! No matter where you are in your practice right now, even if you're taking your first steps, there will always be more to learn for as long as you keep showing up! Of course, there are a few key things to know that can help you get prepared and set you up for success from the beginning.
Because you are awesome and I want you to fall in love with yoga just like I did, I'm going to share with you
My 5 Essential Tips to know before your
First Yoga Class
(...I wish I had known these when I was getting started...)
1 - CHOOSE YOUR MAT
When you are new to yoga and looking to buy your first mat, the hundreds of choices available can be overwhelming to say the least!
Picking a mat can be daunting and you may not even know what you’re looking for.
I mean, what makes a great yoga mat anyway?
There are a few key things to consider when selecting your perfect mat. Read How to Choose the Right Yoga Mat for some of my top recommendations.
2 - ALWAYS LISTEN TO YOURSELF...BE HONEST!
Walking into a yoga studio and seeing everyone in Lululemon bra tops doing a headstand while chanting “Ohm” can be a little discouraging if you're a newbie, but don't let it break your spirit.
Yoga is for Everybody and Every Body.
Start out with a beginner’s level class, and if you're not sure, call the studio and find out which classes they recommend for beginners. Starting slowly will help you feel confident throughout the class and learn the foundations of what you need to know to grow and improve. Know your level and feel proud to walk into a studio. Most importantly, always Listen To Your Body! Never push yourself beyond the boundaries of what feels safe, no matter what instructions are being given. Trust yourself to know how much is enough. When is it safe to push a little farther? When do you need to back off or slow down?
Not quite feeling ready for the studio?
Check out this free video to get a head start!
3 - DON'T BE AFRAID TO USE PROPS
PROPS ARE FRIENDS, not food
(Finding Nemo reference, I just love that movie)
Tell your instructor that you are new to the practice and may need a little support
throughout class. Ask what props they suggest you use during this class. Blocks and a yoga blanket are some of my personal go to's. The blanket works great for a little added cushion under the knee in a kneeling or lunging position. The blocks can be used to add stability to your practice, help you build into your flexibility, and even for strengthening exercises because they bring the floor to you wherever you may be. Other props you might find at your studio may include bolsters, meditation cushions, straps, or foam rollers.
4 - PRACTICE PATIENCE
Starting Ritual: At the beginning of every practice, take three deep breaths and recognize where you are in your body and mind. Honor where you are today and release expectations of what you think you "should" be able to do in your practice. We can get discouraged if we find that what we could do yesterday suddenly feels like a struggle today. It's important to remember that today is a new day and you are a new you.
We may be weaker or sore from the day before but that doesn't mean you can’t do it. Have compassion for where you are and trust that you are making progress no matter what those chaturungas feel like today.
Step into each yoga class
with an Open Mind and Heart towards
Yourself and the Experience.
And remember, we are all practicing with different strengths and weaknesses. The "pro" in the headstand could be miserable in a stretching pose. The point is, don't judge a book (or yourself) by its cover. Just focus on your personal practice and you'll do fine!
5. WHAT'S UP WITH SAYING "NAMASTE" AT THE END OF CLASS?
There is always a moment of uneasiness when an instructor says it in a beginners’ class. A lot of people look around the room in that moment and seem baffled.
So, what does Namaste mean? Namaste translates to “salutations to you” and is meant to be given and received in a loop of hope and positivity. So say it loudly and proudly! Be the first one or the only one, your yoga instructor may give you a high five!
Now, that I have shared this list of things that I was wish I had known before my first yoga class...
GO OUT THERE AND ROCK YOUR FIRST YOGA CLASS!
You are READY!
You are worth it!
You are amazing!
Now, you just have to prove it to yourself.
~ Namaste ~