Yoga for Newbies: 10 Essential Tips to Help You Master Your First Yoga Class
If you haven’t attended a yoga class before, the thought of getting onto a mat around a bunch of yogis can be intimidating. While it seems like everyone is doing it (or at least wearing the apparel regularly), I am here to remind you that everyone was a newbie once. To help ease you into this beautiful habit that’s well worth conquering your fear, here are my 10 essential tips for the yoga newbie.
If you ask me, your mindset is the most important factor when attending yoga (or anything) for the first time. Go into this new experience reminding yourself that yoga is about your individual practice, not about everyone else in the room or how much better their downward dog pose is than yours. Yoga is about you and the mat. When you get into an open-minded headspace before trying something new, everything else falls into place with a lot less effort. Sounds like a good place to start your yoga practice, right?
- The Mat
I will stress again that yoga is about you and your mat. Think of the mat as your sanctuary/magic carpet that is a refuge from the chaos that is everyday life. If you’re the fashionista type like me, you will be thrilled to know that you can find a mat in just about any color or design your heart desires—and you can even accessorize it with a mat towel! Don’t worry if you can’t find one in time for your first class, because most yoga studios rent them out for a small fee.
- The Gear
Yoga requires clothing that is a delicate balance between flexibility and comfort. Start with your preference between capris, long pants, sweatpants or leggings. These days, there are plenty of options on the market, from activewear giants like Lululemon, Athletica and Under Armour to smaller, yoga-centric brands like Kira Grace, Montiel and Onzie. The best part is that you don’t need to sacrifice style to find pieces that are easy to move in and allow for maximum flexibility. Whether printed leggings or a strappy tank fits your look best, a great outfit will give you the confidence to you need to take on your first yoga class. Don’t be afraid to shop around to find what fits your comfort zone (and wallet) best! For those who are budget-conscious, there are online thrift stores where you can purchase upscale brands on the cheap.
- The Journal
Journaling may seem daunting to someone new to yoga, but I promise once you start, you won’t regret it. This habit is an awesome way to keep track of your progress and deepen your newly found yoga practice. Don’t overthink the journaling process—keep it minimal by jotting down a sentence or two about your practice that day. You will be surprised by how much more self-aware you become from such a simple habit!
- The Lingo
Do some research before your first yoga class and familiarize yourself with the lingo. Yoga is a great habit to develop and there are so many beautiful facets surrounding this ancient practice. I truly believe that knowledge about why you are doing something brings a stronger meaning to what you are doing, and yoga is the ultimate example of this belief.
For example, at the end of the class your teacher will say “namaste,” and the class will say the same thing back to him or her. Namaste means “the divine light in me honors the divine light in you.” Think of this saying as a big ol’ yoga thank you to your teacher and to everyone who participated in making your first yoga class significant.
- The Class
I got some great advice when I first started my own yoga journey: Start at the beginning. Regardless of how active you are or aren’t, begin your yoga experience in the beginners class. Yoga is one of those activities where it is does not serve you to skip ahead. It’s called a practice for a reason!
- The Fuel
While it is important to go to the right yoga class for your skill level, it is also important to start your yoga practice with the right fuel for your body. Hydrate before your class and avoid caffeine if you can. Stick to a light snack 60 to 90 minutes before your class starts and avoid a large meal. Yoga consistently engages your core, and in my experience, a full stomach tends to make this core work more difficult.
- Your Breath
Go into your first yoga class expecting to be mindful of your breath. This tip alone will help you get the most out of your experience. Focusing on your breath will keep you centered in awkward or difficult positions throughout your class, and will keep your mind anchored in the present moment.
- When in Doubt, Bring a Friend
Whenever I want to try something new, I always think it is more fun to try it with a friend. It can be intimidating enough walking into a class with people who have been practicing yoga much longer than you, even if it is a beginners class. Go along with a friend to their studio or bring a friend to your studio of choice. The buddy system is always a good idea!
Intention is just a fancy word for your game plan or goal. Do a little personal inventory before your first class and ask yourself what you hope to get out of your first yoga class or your newfound yoga practice in general. Whether it be more patience off the mat or simply more flexibility, yoga has a wide range of benefits that it can provide for you.
Go into your first yoga class like a boss with a plan and an open mind. Namaste!