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What to Expect at Your First Yoga ClassWhat to Expect at Your First Yoga Class


What to Expect at Your First Yoga Class

Yoga reduces stress, improves strength, and increases flexibility. Don't let fear or uncertainty discourage you from giving it a try. Knowing how to prepare and what to expect at your first class will ease your mind and increase the enjoyment of adding something new to your routine.

A welcoming environment

Select a beginner class and take comfort in the accepting and non-judgemental environment. Yoga requires internal mental and physical focus. No one is watching or judging you. Everyone is working to improve their own practice. Leave any self-conscious thoughts behind and enjoy your session.

Activity tailored to your fitness level

Yoga is about easing yourself into poses without stressing the muscles and joints. Poses can be modified to meet your strength and flexibility level, and the benefit of attending a studio class is that the instructor can help you do this. You should feel a small amount of tension as you challenge your flexibility, but this should never be confused with pain. If any pose is too much for you, follow the instructor’s direction to relax in child’s pose or a similar position.

Peace and quiet

Yoga classes provide a break from the radio, televisions, and sounds of cardio machines and clanging dumbbells. Don’t let the silence stress you out. Enjoy the break from conversation and constant noise. While yoga is quiet, remember that smiles, giggles, and even applause are welcome in most classes. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

Equipment you will need

Many studios provide yoga mats to first time attendees, but there may be a fee. Considering that yoga mats cost about $15, having one of your own is worth the investment. If you don’t turn out to be a long-term yoga fan, they can be used for all kinds of floor exercises at home. You might also want to take along a bottle of water and a hand towel to wipe your face or to use as extra support under your knees.

Dress for comfort and movement

Baggy clothes aren’t ideal for yoga because they slide, shift and get in the way. Wear the most form fitting and flexible clothing you feel comfortable in whether it is a tee, tank, shorts, or pants. You will heat up quickly so if you start with long sleeves wear a layer underneath so you can remove the outer layer once you warm up. No socks are needed as they will prevent your feet from gripping the mat. Wear slip-on shoes that are easy to remove.

Up close and personal

Classes can get crowded so be prepared to line up next to your fellow classmate. If this makes you uncomfortable, choose a class that has a cap on attendance or one provided at a less popular time. Also, expect the instructor to touch you and help move your body into the proper position. Always speak up if you are uncomfortable or if they are asking you to reach beyond your limits of flexibility. If an instructor does correct your form, resist the urge to feel criticized. You are not being judged. He or she is helping you to practice safely.

No pressure to participate

Don’t let common yoga practices like chants and audible heavy breathing surprise you. It can take some getting used to when you are new to yoga. You shouldn’t feel pressured to participate, but consider stepping out of your comfort zone and join in. If you decide it’s not a good fit for you, simply perform the pose quietly.

Lori Rice, M.S., is a nutritional scientist and author with a passion for healthy cooking, exercise physiology, and food photography.
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