Yoga for Beginners: What You Should Know Before Your First Class

December 14, 2023 by No Comments

It cannot be very safe to walk into a studio for the first time, but it is important to remember that we were all beginners at one point. You can practice self-compassion by being brave enough to give it a try.

There are many misconceptions about Yoga, which can cause people to be nervous before trying it, says Judi Bar. She is the manager of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness and Preventive Medicine yoga program. She has a C-IAYT certification from the International Association of Yoga Therapists, and she’s also certified by Yoga Alliance.

She says that some people believe they can’t practice Yoga if they aren’t flexible or if they can’t touch their toes. She says that when people see photos of young, fit people standing on one leg with their hands raised above their heads in a yoga pose, they think they can’t do the same.

She says that these assumptions aren’t true.

Bar says Yoga is a growing and changing field. She says that while many classes are competitive and challenging, they also include those that cater to every age, size, shape, and medical condition. Anyone can do Yoga. You need to find a class and teacher that fits your needs and abilities.

Find a true ‘Beginner Class’ before you go.

Start with a location near your home or place of work. Bar says that if you select a studio located a long distance from your home, you will likely have difficulty getting to it on a regular schedule.

Many yoga studios have a weekly or monthly beginner’s yoga class. These classes are for those who are intimidated by the idea of Yoga or who want a safer approach than attempting an all-level type.

She says that they cover breathing, moving slowly, and listening to your body. Keach says that the class can help dispel some myths spread by social media. It may surprise people to find out that Yoga isn’t just doing handstands in a bikini on the beach.

Bar says that studios may advertise beginner classes. However, the terminology can vary widely. She says that “it might not mean beginner to the average person. It could be a class designed for someone younger or with some experience in Yoga.” Bar says that talking to the instructor can help determine whether the class is right for you.

Arrive early to your first class and ask questions once you arrive

Bar says that once you have decided on a studio or fitness facility, you should ask to observe any courses you’re interested in. She says that attending a class can answer many of your questions and give you a better idea of what to expect.

You can also try the class out for yourself. Arrive early so you have time to settle in. Barr says that Yoga brings a sense of calmness and allows you to be aware of how your body is feeling. She says that if you can avoid being rushed or stressed, it will enhance your experience.

Choose a place to roll your mat once you’ve entered the room. Bar suggests that if you are worried about your ability to perform all of the poses or if you have a health issue that could require you to use the restroom, you should position your mat at the back or near the exit.

If you can, tell the instructor that this is your first yoga class. If the course is small, the instructor may be able to keep an eye out for you in case there are any problems or you need more instruction.

More First-Time Yoga FAQs

Do you want to know more about Yoga? Other answers to frequently asked questions by new yogis

What Should I wear to Yoga class?

Barr says that you don’t need to wear yoga clothing unless it is something you really want to do. She says that people have evolved in what they wear to Yoga because it’s easier to move when you don’t have bulkier pants hanging down or your shirt falling into your face.

Barr says that the ideal clothing is something you can feel comfortable and safe in. She suggests wearing yoga pants with a tight-fitting shirt, sweatpants, a sweatshirt or shorts, and a T-shirt or tank top. Bar says that some studios have dress codes. You may want to check their website or visit the center prior to class.

Do I need to bring anything with me to yoga class?

What you should bring to class can differ from studio to studio. This is according to Samantha Scupp, who is the founder and teacher of Healthwise in New York City, a hot yoga studio certified by Yoga Alliance. Scupp advises that you should check the studio’s website before going. She adds that some studios offer a mat, a towel, and water, but others don’t.

Check the schedule, or call the front office to learn what you need to bring.

What should I eat before yoga class?

Barr says that due to the amount of movement in your torso and other parts of your anatomy, it is not recommended that you eat a meal within two hours after practicing Yoga. You can eat a simple snack or a quick breakfast if you need to. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests that you experiment to find out what foods are best for your body.

What If I Can’t Pose?

Respect your limits and listen to your body. Bar says that you should avoid poses and movements that do not feel comfortable or safe. Bar says it’s crucial to listen to your body when doing Yoga. She says that if a teacher asks you to do something out of your range of ability, it is better not to take the class than risk getting hurt.

Bar says that instructors will sometimes offer adjustments or alternatives to make poses easier or more challenging. It’s fine to ask the instructor for a modification if one isn’t available. Just be sure to respect the instructor and don’t be disruptive. Bar says, “Stay still, take a deep breath, and wait for the class to finish that pose.”

What If I Don’t Understand the Teacher?

Bar says that Sanskrit is the original language of Yoga, and many instructors use it. According to the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, Sanskrit was the original yoga language. Many instructors still use it. Even familiar poses, like Warrior, Tree Pose, and Dead Bug Pose, can leave you confused.

Bar says that if you are having difficulty keeping up with the class because the teacher is using terms you do not understand, you should ask about a beginner’s course taught by a teacher who will use more basic words to describe the poses. She says that many studios offer beginner classes to help you learn basic Sanskrit over time.

What Should I do if I need to use the bathroom during class?

Bar says that if you need to use the restroom, leave the room quietly. Bar says that if you are likely to need to go to class during a lesson, you should know the location of the bathroom. You can also place your mat so that it is easy for you to enter and exit the classroom.

Bar says it’s fine to leave the room when nature calls. Yoga is about taking care of oneself and knowing what your needs are.

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