We’re betting that you are, like so many, wanting to try yoga. It’s true…It is an amazing way to get in shape, to become more mentally, emotionally and physically flexible and yet, when you’re brand new to yoga, you probably have a lot of questions about what you’re getting into – knowing what’s expected and what works ahead of time will help you to feel more comfortable. Below are the four topics I wish someone had briefed me about way back before I started yoga, including what to wear, what to bring with you, how to prepare for class, and some basic practice tips. If there are still some questions you might have don’t hesitate to reach out to us – we love helping you get what you need!
Hopefully being armed with this information will make the difference for someone who’s not quite sure they are ready to do yoga.
What to Wear
Shoes: Yoga is most often done barefoot. You will occasionally see people with some kind of sock or shoe, but it’s usually due to an injury or medical condition. This is usually welcome news for people who are tired of carrying around an extra pair of shoes for the gym.
Pants: There are many different styles of yoga pants, but you don’t have to run out and buy a special pair before your very first class. Any comfortable exercise pants or shorts will do. After a few classes, you may feel like you wish the pants you have were shorter/longer/looser/higher waisted/not falling down every time you stretch up. That’s a good time to go shopping. Always avoid practicing in pants that don’t stretch, like jeans. And just in case, you want to see some non-yogis do some goofy yoga…
Tops: A shirt that is a little bit fitted works best. A big baggy t-shirt is not great since it will probably slide down every time you bend over. And you’re going to be doing a lot of bending over. Sleeveless tops are popular since they allow freedom of movement in the arms and shoulders. Wear whatever kind of bra you prefer for exercising.
Bras: Again, a solid bra that can keep things in place is an imperative. This doesn’t have to be a super expensive, luxury item. Think function first and then get fancy if you want to…you might be finding yourself doing a lot of forward folding where your head is below your waist so…be properly prepared.
Hot Yoga: If you’re going to do hot yoga or Bikram, there are some special considerations. Remember that in hot yoga there will be more sweat…you will want clothing that doesn’t sag when it gets wet.
What to Bring
Mat: If you a headed to your very first class, don’t worry about bringing a mat if you don’t have one. The great majority of yoga venues have mats for rent for just a dollar or two, including us. As you keep going to class or if you are practicing at home, you are going to want to invest in your own mat. There are lots of different considerations as to which mat is right for you. Our current favorite is made by Clever Yoga.
Water bottle: If you are going to hot yoga, most everyone brings a water bottle with them. With other types of yoga, you can probably wait until after class to get a drink.
Towel: If you are a big sweater or are trying out hot yoga, a hand towel is a good thing to bring with your.
Props: Though I love props, in most cases it’s not necessary to have your own at first. Studios will provide blocks, blankets, and straps. Often your teacher will tell you which props will be needed for class.
If she/he doesn’t, I like to grab a block and a blanket anyway.
How to Prepare
Food: It’s best not to eat a heavy meal right before you do yoga. When you start moving, everything gets churned up and you may start to feel sick if your stomach is too full. You can have a light snack an hour or two before class and be fine.
Warming up: If you are early to class, try stretch a bit or relax and center your mind. You can also just lie on your back or sit cross legged on your mat. This makes you look serene.
Alignment: Whether you are in a yoga class or using a DVD, keep a close eye on the instructor’s alignment. That’s the precise way that the body lines up in each posture. Good alignment is very important to maximize each pose’s benefits and minimize the chance of injury.
Look and Listen: When you are first learning the poses, it’s ok to glance around the room to see what everyone else is doing, but look to the teacher for your primary instruction. Also listen for her verbal cues as she describes how to do the poses.
Stay Positive: Don’t feel bad if you teacher corrects your postures. Hands-on instruction is the best way to learn good form. Try not to judge yourself harshly in comparison to what others are doing on their mats. Everyone is at a different place on the path. Stay light-hearted and keep your sense of humor. Laugh if you fall out of a pose, smile when things get difficult. Enjoy yourself.
Trust Your Judgement: Remember that your practice is an individual process. No one else is inside your body, so defer to your own judgement about what you can and cannot do. Over time, you will learn to discern the difference between something you may be afraid of or think you can’t do and something that is actually painful and possibly dangerous for you. There is no hurry to get into any particular pose. Listen to your own body and respect what it tells you about how to practice.
Ask Questions: Perhaps the most important tip is to always ask questions when you don’t understand something. If it’s about yoga culture or etiquette, more experienced students are almost always happy to share their expertise. Questions about specific physical postures are best directed toward your teacher, either before or after class.
Looking forward to seeing you on the mat. You can always book your class ahead! Click here to register for a class.