For a new person attending a yoga class it can be quite daunting.  Not knowing what to expect.  Will I like it?  Can do it?  What if I can’t keep up?
Good preparation for the class may take some of these concerns away.  Here are some tips for you on how to prepare for your first yoga class.

1.    Research the class

If you have decided you want to do yoga but you want to know how challenging the class will be its best to first contact whoever is offering the class and ask a few questions.
Each yoga class and every teacher is different in how a class is run. Teachers bring varying degrees of experience and teach different styles of yoga.  Generally each session will start with an opening meditation and a focus on breathing.  From there the teacher may move on to yoga asanas (poses) that could be standing, seated, lying, twisting etc.  The practise will tend to finish with svasana – guided meditation or visualisation – where you will be lying on your back and the teacher will guide you through it. More traditional yoga spaces will also include some chanting and you will be asked to join in if you wish to.  As there are number of yoga styles, one you have spoken to whoever is offering the class, you may wish to read a little about the style offered.  You may need to attend the class you’ve chosen a few times to really know if you like the style.

2.    Wear comfortable exercise attire

Once you’ve decided on the class you want to attend, make sure you have the right clothing.  You may wish to wear a singlet and another top over it and loose pants. Yoga is usually performed in bare feet but it’s a good idea to keep yourself warm during the warm up and svasana so having socks and a jumper is a good idea, particularly in winter.  Layering is good as it allows you to adjust as you need during the session. Keep in mind you will be bending, stretching, twisting and lying down during the practise so clothing that is comfortable and flexible is best.

3.    Eat right beforehand

Practising yoga on a full stomach is not a good idea. You will feel very uncomfortable and it will be hard to move. It is best to refrain having a full meal prior to your class. This may be a challenge at times, as you may be coming to class after work or the class might be around dinner time.  The best solution is to have a hearty lunch and/or if the session is around dinner time take some extra food and have it about 1-2 hours before the session.  An ideal snack could be any of the following or a combination: canned tuna, a piece of fruit, some yoghurt, a light chicken salad, a handful of nuts.  You may need to test out what the best timing of food intake is for you – not too close to the class that you are still digesting but not too far away that you are in danger of getting hungry again.

4.    Essentials to bring

It is best to bring a bottle of water and something warm to wear.  If you already own a mat feel free to take it with you. Most places usually provide mats or you can hire one.  A small towel may be necessary if you are attending a hot yoga session and/or the weather is quite warm.  Some take a larger towel and lay it over their mat for added comfort during some sections of the class.  All other props like blocks, straps and bolsters will be provided by the studio if they are used during the session.

5.    Arrive about ten minutes early

There is nothing worse than feeling rushed and coming in to a yoga class after it has started, particularly if you are new.  Most studios will have policies where you will not be allowed in after five to ten minutes into the class.  Even if you are allowed in, you will have missed the opportunity to talk to the teacher and settle yourself.  If you rush in during the opening meditation and breathing it disrupts the class. All of these factors make it essential for you to arrive early to the class.

6.    Let the teacher know you are new

Failing to tell the teacher that you are a new student will hinder your practise.  Teachers are fairly perceptive and may be able to guess however it is best to let them know.  This way they can keep an eye on you, give you a bit more attention and advise you on some of the modifications to any poses you find challenging.  They will also be able to help you move into the correct positioning with each pose which is essential to ensure you develop good habits.

7.    Position yourself so that you have a few seasoned yogis in front of you

If you are new, it is probably not a good idea for you to go to the front of the class.  As the teacher does not always work at the front of the class, being there doesn’t guarantee greater attention from the instructor or that you will always see what the instructor is doing.  The teacher may very well move around the room to assist students.  If you have a few other students in front of you, you can follow what they are doing if you get lost in the practise or if you are more of a visual person and auditory cues from the instructor are not enough for you.

8.    Keep yourself hydrated

Although not all yoga is performed in a hot room, it is best to keep your hydration up. More so leading up to the practise, meaning the water you have consumed the day before. You can also drink coconut water or mineral water.

9.    Respect the space in which you are practising

Yoga studios go to great lengths to create a calming environment  not only during the practise but before and after. This means that in most cases you will be required to leave your shoes and belongings outside the studio in a dedicated space.  The idea is not to clutter the space that we practise in.
When you enter the room, do so quietly, as there may be others meditating. There is nothing worse than a loud thud or unnecessary chatter when you are trying to settle and calm yourself in preparation for the practise.  Make sure your phone is on silent and is kept outside together with your belongings. Svasana is just as important as the asanas, so try to stay for the whole session.  However if you need to leave early make sure you have informed the teacher at the beginning of the class and leave quietly.

 

If you follow these steps outlined above you increase the chances that you are going to enjoy the class and get the most out of it.  As with most things in life preparation is the key to success.  There is no reason to be concerned about doing yoga for the first time.  If you follow these steps you’ll be as ready as you can be.  You might just discover that yoga becomes your new passion for 2015!