This article on how to prepare for yoga class covers everything you may want to know before taking your first yoga lesson.
Around for many years, yoga is now a booming industry that has mushroomed in the last two decades, with most communities offering yoga studio classes.
This is hardly surprising given that yogis tend to be happy, vibrant people with an enviable calm, and who doesn’t aspire to these qualities?
While yoga is a form of physical exercise, it is not a sport. Nor should it be competitive.
However, modern society’s typical ‘winner’ mentality can make it hard for some people to take that first step and sign up for a class. This is ironic, given that yoga is supposed to ease the chatter of the mind and quiet anxiety,
It’s common to feel a little anxious at the prospect of having to assume positions that seem impossible and to do so in front of strangers. You may also think that you need to be flexible in order to do yoga when flexibility is actually one of the results of regular practice. Rest assured that everyone is new at some point, No one will be judging you, so don’t judge yourself.
Following are some tips on how to prepare for yoga class. We will cover the things you can do before, during, and after your first lesson to make sure it is enjoyable and that you want to go back. We will also look at what to expect, what to wear to a yoga studio class, and more.
Tips to Prepare for Yoga Before Your First Class
- Research your options
Before preparing for yoga class, you will need to find a class to attend. If you don’t know of any, look online for local yoga classes in your area. If you’re lucky, there may be more than one studio.
Check their prices, and find out if you can pay as you go or if you have to sign up for a complete course. Also, see if there’s the option of a free visit. Many studios offer this so that you can “try before you buy”.
Some yoga studios have two for one deals. This enables you to take someone else along without having to pay any extra. The studios offer this in the hopes that they will gain two new members.
Going with a friend can take the anxiety out of walking into a foreign environment alone, and make it more fun.
- Choose an appropriate class
The next important consideration as you prepare for yoga is to choose the style you want to do.
Hot yoga classes and those with the word ‘power’ in the title are not ideal choices for a starter session. There will be plenty of time to consider these more challenging yoga styles after you’ve been practicing for a while.
A good starter class can take many forms. Anything in the ‘yin’ style, such as a deep stretch; restorative; or long, slow, deep (jokingly nicknamed LSD) is a good choice. ‘Slow flow’ classes are also good, as the poses are not interchanged too quickly, with some held for several minutes.
Don’t be stressed at the thought of staying in one pose for that long. Long poses enable you to sink into them and relax. If holding the posture becomes awkward or painful you can always pull out of it.
- What to wear
If you’re wondering what to wear to yoga class, you’re not alone. This is something that was uppermost in my mind before I took my first yoga studio class. I didn’t want to turn up dressed to the nines when I didn’t know how to do the postures. On the other hand, I didn’t want to look out of place.
Regular workout clothes, should you have them, may serve you here, but they might not. Your attire should be modest, but also quite fitted. An oversized T-shirt would hamper you. Clothing that is too short or too tight could expose more skin than you’d like – the last thing you want is to be continually rearranging your clothing and worrying about a wardrobe malfunction.
I like and recommend these Yogalicious yoga pants. They’re soft, light and airy, and they hold their shape well even after repeated washing. The pants have a high waistband, a tummy control panel, and they come in a range of cool colors. They don’t cling or feel sweaty even after a long session, and they’re not see-through as some cheaper yoga pants are.
You can wear just about any fitted top. My current favorite is this Disbest yoga tank top, which I have in three colors. The fabric is soft and breathable. The top is comfortable to wear and keeps its shape well. A removable built-in padded bra provides breast support without restricting movement.
- What to take with you
While mat rentals are free at many studios, some charge a dollar or two, so if you’re planning on attending classes regularly, it makes sense to buy a mat. The immediate advantage of doing so is that you can use it at home, outdoors, or in class. Another benefit is that only you will stand, sit, lay, and roll on the mat, though your teacher may step on it when she stops by for an assist.
You will also need a yoga towel. Some studios supply them, but I prefer to take my own.
I recommend the Aurorae Synergy Yoga Mat, which is a mat and towel in one. It’s soft against the skin, and it doesn’t bunch up. It is also eco-friendly, it doesn’t contain any toxic chemicals, and it comes in six gorgeous colors. I have one in Amethyst and one in Lapis, and I’m planning to the Tahiti Tide. One mat is plenty as they are easy to wash and dry, but I just love the colors.
Click here to read a review of three different Aurorae Yoga Mats. (The Synergy is the last one on the page.)
Be sure to take a bottle of water. You may be able to buy water, but not every studio sells it.
Yoga props, including straps and blocks, will help you achieve the more difficult poses. Most yoga studios have these on hand, so it’s not necessary to purchase them right away.
- Learn the Sun Salutation Series
The Sun Salutation Series are sequences of typically a dozen poses. Many yoga classes use these as a warm-up series, and some classes almost entirely revolve around them.
Even in slow classes, the Series might be a brisk warm-up, so it’s useful knowing this set before attending your first yoga studio class. Don’t worry if you can’t execute the poses flawlessly. You will improve over time, but for now, just follow along as well as you can.
Tips to Prepare for Yoga Class – On the Day
Now that you’ve picked a studio and style of yoga and sorted out what to wear, it’s time to prepare for your first session.
Along with being excited, it’s natural to feel a little nervous. If you’ve chosen the right studio, you should love your introduction to yoga and walk out of class feeling energized with a sense of calm.
Following are some tips that will help to make your first yoga studio class a success.
- Food and bathroom needs
No matter how slow and chill your yoga class is, you’ll still need the energy to move through the sequences and hold the poses. And if you’re entirely new to yoga, the mental focus required might surprise you. Proper nutrition can help in this regard; however, you won’t want too much in your stomach given that you’ll be doing folds, twists, and possibly even gentle inversions.
An energy bar or a piece of fruit is okay, but anything more substantial, even a light meal, is best eaten a minimum of two hours before the start of your class.
As far as bathroom issues are concerned, you can always leave class to use the restroom if need be. However, in doing so, you could miss critical poses and possibly disrupt other students. For this reason, it’s wise to use the bathroom before class if you can. This is one of the best pieces of advice I can pass on as you prepare for yoga class.
- Arrive at the studio early
It is etiquette to arrive at least five minutes before your class starts. Unroll your mat, sit on it, and wait for your teacher to arrive. Arriving late will disrupt the class, so many yoga studios deny access to latecomers.
If you are practicing at a studio for the first time, which is the assumption of this article, you will have to fill out some new student paperwork. This is usually a one-page form asking for contact information, your health background, any medical issues, etc.. Arriving with time to spare will enable you to do this without having to rush.
It will also give you time to familiarize yourself with the layout of the studio and introduce yourself to your teacher. Let her know it’s your first time doing yoga and she will keep an eye on you and help you when need be. Your teacher will probably assist you in some poses, but if the class is jam-packed she may not be able to give you a lot of individual attention.
Another advantage to being early is that you will be able to pick a spot where you will feel the most comfortable. Choosing a place towards the back of the room means fewer pairs of eyes will be on you during class. Many teachers rotate their students around their mat during sequences, however, so you could wind up at the ‘front’ anyway, at least for a while.
If you start at the front, you will be closer to the teacher and be better able to see her demonstrations of the poses. My recommendation is to choose a spot in the middle. This way you will be able to see what everyone else is doing and follow along.
- Remove your shoes
Under no circumstances should you walk into the yoga studio wearing shoes. Most studios provide shelves or bins in a common area where you can store your shoes and other personal belongings.
If you choose to keep your phone, wallet, and keys with you in the yoga room, that is completely understandable, but always make sure your phone is switched off.
If you’re not comfortable taking class barefoot, you can wear yoga or Pilates socks. These are different from regular socks in that they provide traction that will prevent your feet from sliding on the floor.
- Say ‘Namaste’ (nah-mah-stay)
Namaste is a word you’ll likely hear in class. It comes from the ancient language of Sanskrit, and it roughly translates to “the light in me honors the light in you.” Your teacher might address the class with this phrase at the beginning. Many classes end with everyone bowing and saying this in unison. Some even start with this.
Don’t let this make you feel uncomfortable. A standard greeting in India, Nepal, and some parts of South East Asia, it portrays respect and goodwill.
While some yoga classes are a little more spiritual than others, and you might hear about concepts like chakras or karma, members of all philosophies and religions are welcome at yoga studios. Saying ‘namaste’ is polite; you won’t be participating in a cult ritual or taking the first step in joining the Hindu faith.
If any spiritual subject matter that arises in your yoga class makes you uncomfortable, this could indicate that you need to look for another teacher or studio. However, keep in mind that since yoga is traditionally a spiritual discipline and not just a form of physical exercise, you’re not likely to find an authentic yoga studio without some devotional bent to it.
- Stay quiet during class
Chatting during yoga class is a no-no. Meditation is a vital component of the practice. Staying silent in a room that is quiet and full of strangers can be difficult at first. You will soon get used to this atmosphere and come to appreciate the peace and quiet.
Focus on your teacher’s demonstration and instructions. At the end of your session, leave the room quietly.
- Don’t let your eyes wander
Yoga attire is typically fitted and sometimes on the skimpy side. In particular poses, your fellow students’ rear ends will be prominently sticking up in the air. You will quickly get used to this and not even notice.
In the meantime, don’t gawk. Keep your eyes to yourself. Sit in the front row if you have to, or by a window or wall. Your practice should be focused solely on you and the teacher.
- Winding down
Classes often end with Savasana Pose, also known as Corpse Pose. This involves lying flat on the floor with your eyes closed. Physically, it is perhaps the most relaxed posture. However, lying completely still can be mentally challenging, particularly for people who are new to yoga. Over time most come to enjoy it though and wish it lasted longer.
When your class comes to an end, sit up, say namaste to the class, stand, roll up your mat, leave the classroom, and collect your shoes. You may want to hang around outside and meet your fellow yogis, but be aware that some people prefer to prolong the serenity and remain silent for a while after class,
From Your First Class To Your Second
If you really enjoyed your class, you might be tempted to take another one immediately. However, there are some things you should consider first:
The twists and turns of yoga poses relax the muscles, stimulate the internal organs, and “wring out” venous blood, creating heat within the body. This is released as sweat. Even if you did a slow flow or seated class in an unheated room, you might have sweated a lot.
Be sure to drink sufficient water in the hours before your glass, but not so much that you will need to use the bathroom. Drink more water right after class, and throughout the rest of the day.
- Enjoy the afterglow
Along with being relaxing and energizing, yoga lifts the mood and spirit and improves focus and clarity.
This low-level euphoria is part of the reason why yoga is so popular and why people keep coming back for more. Some use these feelings to fit more into their day. Others recognize that they do too much and “stop and smell the roses.” Do whatever you feel like doing. Take a nap after class, go for a walk in the park, relax with a book, or see a movie. You deserve it.
- Don’t preach
Some folks are so blown away by the power of yoga that they rave on about it to anyone who will listen. While most people could benefit from doing yoga, it is not up to you to convince them of this. It is a decision they will need to make of their own volition.
Let your results, newfound calm, energy, and radiance from regular yoga practice speak for themselves.
- Pace yourself
If your class went well you may be tempted to return every day. While it’s good to practice regularly, give your body at least one day a week to rest.
During your first month, practicing yoga two go two or three times a week is plenty. This schedule will enable you to ease into it gradually as you master the poses.
Another advantage of taking things slowly is that doing so will give you the time to mentally process the class environment. Some questions to ask yourself include whether or not you really enjoyed the class and your teacher’s style. Whether the studio is conveniently located, and if there’s enough room to be comfortable or if everyone is crammed in are other things to consider.
If everything stacks up, you are probably onto a winner.
How to Prepare for Yoga Class Summary
Go with the flow of the class as best you can and don’t let being new faze you. Yogis focus on their own practice, not other peoples. You may get some extra attention from the teacher because you are new. However, to your classmates, you are just another face in the room.
If you need to use the restroom during class, leave quietly and quickly. Come back in the same manner. Be sure to walk though, not run. If you’ve just completed a posture that opens the hips and you’ve only worked one side, you may find that one leg is temporarily slightly shorter than the other.
Yoga balances the mind and soul as well as the body. Our minds tend to turn minor issues into major ones. Regular yoga practice can balance the mind, body, and soul, helping to put things into perspective.
If you’d like to get a bit of experience under your belt before attending your first yoga studio class, check out the BeachBody 3 Week Yoga Retreat DVD Program. (Click the previous link to read a review.)
Good luck, and namaste!