I can’t remember whether my very first yoga class was in a proper studio, or it was a private class with a private instructor in the office. But, till now, even with a few years of practising yoga, the first time at a new studio can still feel daunting.
If it’s your very first time attending yoga class at a studio, this post should help you with getting comfortable!
How to Prepare for Your First Yoga Class
What to Wear
No matter the first or subsequent times, for ladies, as with all sports activities, a sports bra will provide good support without the discomfort of underwire bras.
For your first yoga class, try to wear a top that’s more fitting, or a slightly longer T-shirt. When you’re in a Downward Dog position, your top might roll upward (downward?), possibly revealing your midriff, and you don’t wanna deal with fumbling with your top when you’re trying to get comfortable in the pose. Forget those airy sportswear tops that flare open at the lower back because they’ll flip over and cover your face in a Downward Dog. If you don’t have any of the 2 suggestions, simply wear a normal T-shirt with the most breathable fabric.
I highly recommend the Uniqlo Airism sleeveless tank top with an inbuilt bra – good material, cooling and convenient.
For bottoms, it’ll be good to wear something that will not get in your way when you’re moving through the poses. Avoid thicker material as they might make you feel very uncomfortable when you’re in Warrior poses or Pigeon pose. 3/4 or full-length leggings are good ideas!
One reason fitting clothes are recommended is so that the yoga instructor can see your form more clearly and thus help you with alignment where necessary
For men, wear what you do when you go jogging or something. Sorry for the vagueness! That’s what I see guys wear to my yoga classes, lol.
Yoga is a barefooted activity, so it doesn’t matter what shoes you wear – you’ll be removing shoes and socks before going near your mat.
You don’t have to buy expensive attire yet, because you won’t know if yoga will be something you’ll commit to in the long run. Save the money and wear what you can make do with first!
Which Yoga Class to Book
Since it’s your first yoga class, look for Basic, Hatha or Bikram Yoga (a standard set of 26 poses – many studios name them differently) classes. Read the class description before booking.
Avoid Flow/Vinyasa class for your first yoga class, as a Flow class is faster-paced and requires you to have a familiarity with pose names and alignment. In fact, I’ll also suggest avoiding the Hot/Warm (heated) classes for your first time in the yoga studio. It can be a little too intense.
If the teacher asks ahead if there’s anyone new to yoga classes, please do raise your hand. He’ll help to look out for you more instead of having you struggle to keep up on your own. Regardless, a good teacher will be able to tell straight away if someone is completely new to yoga, so don’t worry about that too.
What to Expect during the Yoga Class
What others might do
Before class, you might see people sitting cross-legged in silence – they’re meditating. Or someone will be literally doing yoga before class – they’re simply warming up. Please don’t feel awkward.
What other people might wear
You might also notice some ladies wearing a sports bra as their top. Sometimes men go topless too. Try not to get too distracted, don’t even feel conscious and definitely, don’t stare 0.0
There might be breathing exercises
Some teachers like to start or end classes with breathing exercises. These exercises help to warm up your core, &/or also cleanse you from within. Simply follow along with the instructions.
There’s one particular breathing exercise, called kapalbhati, which feels like pumping the stomach through automatic inhaling and rapid, forceful exhaling through the nose. Kapalbhati helps to cleanse toxic air from your body. My teacher always reminds ladies that are having their Aunt Rosy (menses) to skip this part and simply just sit there and breathe as per normal (no one will know, don’t worry!).
How a yoga class is structured
There’s usually just these parts:
The teacher will lead you through some sequences to open up and warm up your body. Sometimes, a warm-up also includes the breathing exercises mentioned above.
2. The asanas
After the warmups, the teacher will lead you through different asanas for the class. I find it easier to listen to the cues, followed by visually referencing by looking at people, if I really don’t know what the teacher meant. Over time, you’ll learn to be comfortable with your preference with more focus and less distraction.
Don’t think about how a pose should look exactly like. Instead, be mindful of your own body’s flexibility and limitations. Intentionally feel through your body.
3. Winding-down sequences
Towards the last part of the class, the asanas should wind down to be less intense.
At the very last few minutes of a class, it’s the resting pose, commonly referred to as savasana or Corpse pose. This is simply to let your body relax after the session. To do this, lay down on the mat, feet apart, hands apart by your side with palms facing up. Close your eyes and rest. After a few minutes, the teacher will cue for the final vertical stretch of your body before inviting you to bend your knees to your torso and rolling over to lay on your right side (Foetus pose), then seated up again.
Stay in the class
Don’t leave the room halfway unless there’s an emergency, or if you feel you’re gonna faint or throw up or need a doctor. Generally, someone’s sudden leaving is disruptive to the class and is also not very polite. If you can’t keep up or need a rest, anytime at all, go into a Child’s Pose.
Most Importantly, be Comfortable with a Beginner’s Mentality
When we do things for the first time, we feel awkward, uncomfortable, and out of place. This is perfectly normal. I personally think that it’s important to feel comfortable with being a beginner. Yoga is not a competition. It helps to remember that every person in the class is at a different stage of their yoga journey – some have already been practising for years before your first time. You don’t have to compare or feel the need to reach a certain standard or even look a certain way in a pose. Focus on how yoga makes you feel internally.
Focus on the breathing.
Tips to be more comfortable for your first yoga class!
Before going, find out what the studio provides
Are there yoga mats? I live in Singapore and yoga studios always provide mats, while I notice that some studios overseas require students to bring their own mat. How about towels, does the studio provide? Hand/Face towel? Water? If you need a shower after class, does the studio have shower cubicles?
Bring the essentials
- A little lock – if there are lockers at the studio. I use a pin code luggage lock, so I don’t need to have any little key with me.
- Hair-clips or hairbands to tie up your hair if necessary
- Face towel if required – for wiping sweat off the face
Before going for yoga class
- Don’t eat too much right before class
- Refrain from drinking too much water
- Clear your bladder before class
- Relax your mind
Reach the studio early
This is so you can register, make payment, get oriented around the studio, remove makeup, settle in, etc etc.
Know basic yoga etiquette
- Leave your belongings and worries outside the studio, or at least outside of your mat.
- Maintain a respectful attitude.
- Be punctual if you can’t be early. Entering a studio when a class has already started is not really good manners.
- Don’t step on mats while walking to yours.
- Avoid chatting or making loud sounds in class. Stay mindful.
- The last pose (Savasana, Dead Man’s pose) is meant for resting and recovery so it’s not a cue for you to leave. It’s a really short rest but beneficial in many ways to you.
I hope you find these tips useful! Enjoy your first class =)
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