Tips for Your First Yoga Class
So, you have spotted a yoga studio in your neighborhood. You’re intrigued, and you want to check out this trendy activity that seems to be everywhere. Here is what you will need to get started when you are brand new to yoga.
Good news: You do NOT have to go out and spend a hundred (or more) dollars on yoga clothes before even setting foot in a yoga studio. You can wear whatever you want. Go for something minimal, stretchy, and soft. Comfort is key, as is movement. There’s a reason why yoga pants are ubiquitous: they meet a need really, really well – and they are exceedingly comfortable. However, they are far from your only option. Do you have bike shorts, or even gym or basketball shorts? What about running pants or tights? What would you wear if you were going to an aerobics class or kickboxing? Much like those endeavors, you want to be able to move freely, while also not having clothing so loose that it can get in your way, get caught, or trip you up.
If you are attending a hot yoga class (an increasingly common offering in gyms, where the studio is hotter and more humid, leading to profuse sweating), you’ll want to make sure you aren’t wearing too much clothing. You see lots of tank tops and capris, shorts, and breathable materials in those heated classes. Some men choose to go shirtless and some ladies wear just a sports bra or midriff top. If you’re going to an unheated yoga class, though, you’ll be just fine in sweatpants. You can wear any kind of workout shirt or t-shirt, but sleeveless tops provide the greatest freedom of arm movement. In a non-heated class, you might want to bring along an extra layer such as a thin sweatshirt to cover your arms and shoulders at the end of the session as you cool down.
There is no need to buy expensive gym shoes for this workout because you’re going barefoot! In fact, in most instances you are going to remove your shoes as soon as you walk in the building; you’ll usually find a shoe storage cubby near the front door and front desk. It’s good etiquette to remove your shoes right away and avoid tracking dirt and outside particles on the floors and carpets that people are going to be walking around on in their bare feet. However, you absolutely never wear shoes into the actual yoga studio room where the class is held. If you want to wear socks, you can – just make sure they have some grip or friction material and won’t slide around on the mat.
A Yoga Mat
Speaking of mats, do you need to bring your own? You don’t – you can easily try out yoga without making upfront purchases. Most yoga studios have mats available to rent for a nominal fee (around $1 or $2), and some yoga classes in fitness gyms have free mats. The downside is that you’ll be lying on a mat other people have used. Specialty yoga studios collect rented mats and clean them before giving them out again, but gym mats might slip through the cracks and not be cleaned as well between classes. Most likely, you will be provided a perfectly acceptable mat, but those who continue with yoga practice usually invest in their own mat because it is such a personal item. Your mat is your personal space for your yoga practice, and many instructors begin by welcoming you to your mat. Don’t let not having one dissuade you, but just know that you’re likely to want to have your own eventually if you continue with yoga.
Extras: Water and a Towel
These are essential in a hot yoga class and nice to have in an unheated class. You should NOT bring a lot of extra items into the studio; leave your bag, keys, phone, shoes, etc. in a locker or storage spot. Water and a towel are expected, though. You can use the towel to wipe off sweat or even place it on top of the mat if you’re worried about touching a previously used mat or if your mat starts to get slippery from your own sweat during class.
Informing the Instructor
When you are a new student at a yoga studio, they will likely ask you – as they absolutely should – whether you have ever done yoga anywhere else. Don’t be afraid to tell them it’s your first class ever! It’s important for the instructor to know so s/he can guide you through the basic terminology and help you get into poses correctly.
There is a lot of it in yoga that will sound new and may be confusing at first, but you don’t need to know anything going in. Remember that you will definitely have told the staff it’s your very first class, so they will explain exactly what is happening as they go along and not rely on an assumed understanding of jargon and shorthand. In no time, you will be talking about common yoga poses, and phrases such as “mountain pose” and “downward dog” will roll off your tongue.
And if you liked it…?
It’s great if you feel good and ready for more after your first yoga class. Before plunking down big bucks on a studio membership though, try attending more than one class, more than one instructor, and preferably more than one studio. This will help you get a better idea of which place and which style are a good fit for you.
With these tips in mind, you are ready to enjoy the benefits and join the millions who have already discovered what yoga class is all about.