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When I first made a commitment to yoga, I was scared and uncertain about what it would be like and whether or not I could even “do” yoga. I can honestly say starting and then committing to a yoga practice is one of the best things I have ever done for myself!
If you have been considering starting a practice you are not alone. Many are turning to yoga as part of a healthy lifestyle. It helps to have a basic understanding of what to expect so you can focus on what’s going on in the class and what’s going on with your body. Here are 8 tips to help you not only survive, but thrive in your first yoga class!
1. Remember that yoga is a practice that meets you where you are.
No matter where you are, there is a yoga practice that is right for you. Yoga doesn’t care if you are tall or short, heavy or slim, young or old. Yoga helps us to deeply explore ourselves, no matter where we are. Remembering this on the mat can help you to let go of self-judgment and begin to soften into each moment.
2. Do your research to find a class that meets your needs.
Find a few studios near you and visit their websites. Read the class descriptions or call the studio to ask questions. There are many different styles of yoga so look for one that will meet your specific needs. Word of mouth is another way to find a teacher, so ask your friends, your family members, or your coworkers. Chances are good that if they have a good teacher, they may have already mentioned it to you!
3. Arrive Early.
Once you have settled on a class, arriving ten minutes early will allow you to meet the teacher and inform him or her about yourself and what you are hoping to accomplish by starting a yoga practice. It also allows you to ask questions of the instructor so you know more of what to expect.
5. It’s best that you don’t eat right before class, but do stay hydrated.
If you’re digesting a meal, your body will be using energy that could otherwise be focused on your practice. Also, twisting and bending doesn’t feel great with a full stomach! If possible wait about two hours after a big meal and one hour after a light snack. Also, make sure you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
4. Wear loose fitting clothes that you feel comfortable in.
Depending on the class, you may be bending over, twisting, turning, stretching, and even inverting (only if you choose to try that headstand.) Make sure you are not only in comfortable clothes, but that you are wearing something that will stay put!
6. Place your mat near the back of the class.
Many studios have mats that you can rent (check ahead of time to be sure) or you can bring your own. Eventually you will be so deep into your own practice that you don’t even notice that others are in the room! However, in your first class, it’s nice to have a view of other students to help you through each posture.
7. Respect your body and its limits.
Yoga is about self-acceptance and meeting yourself where you are with love and compassion. The slower you move, the faster you progress. Finding your edge in each pose and continually staying with it as you breathe respects where you are and will allow you to move forward over time.
8. Stay open.
Chose to go into your practice with an open heart and mind. Don’t judge the practice. Commit and keep going. During my first yoga class I knew that something fundamentally right was happening. I don’t understand what it was, but I knew it was where I needed to be.
You deserve to connect and to communicate deeply with your body. You deserve to strengthen inside and out. And most of all, you deserve to change all that is not serving you in your life. Yoga informs us about ourselves. The more we practice, the more information we will receive as we begin to watch, connect, and engage at deeper levels. It is through that connection and engagement that we can begin to transform our bodies, our minds, and our world – one practice at a time.