Tips for the beginning yogi

If you’ve never taken a yoga class before, stepping foot into a yoga studio can be intimidating. Maybe you’re more nervous and anxious rather than calm and relaxed? It’s normal to feel a little out of place when you step out of your comfort zone for anything, but taking your first yoga class should be exciting. Celebrate the courage it took for you to try something new, to challenge yourself, to grow.

Here are a few tips to ease you onto your mat:

Pick a class that fits your goals – Do your homework and find a class that aligns with your goals. There are many different styles and levels in yoga but all practices incorporate Sanskrit, breathwork and alignment. It’s important to learn the basics first. We offer a complimentary Intro to Yoga Workshop that is a great place to begin. But you’re always welcome to jump right in to regularly scheduled classes too. The level of the class is specified after the style of class on most schedules. An All Levels or Level 1 class is appropriate for the beginner. If you are looking to sweat and build strength try a Basic class to learn basic Sanskrit, breathwork and alignment. Once you feel you have that down, feel free to continue with Basic classes or rev it up with an Intro to Power Flow class. If it’s too much, know that you can always take what you need and leave the rest. If you are looking for other end of the spectrum where you can relax and renew try our Candle Relax and Restore or Yin Deep Stretch classes. If your first class is not what you were looking for come back until you find a class that aligns with your needs and goals. There are so many options for the first time student.

Eat light two to two and a half hours before class – try not to eat fried, saucy, fatty, spicy, or high-acid foods that are not easy to digest before class. It’s not a good idea to practice on a empty stomach either. You might get light headed without any fuel in your body. Good pre-class snacks include vegetables, yogurt, or fruit. A lightly-filled stomach will give you a little boost to get into the poses.

Wear comfortable clothes that aren’t too tight or too loose – Clothes that are too tight might restrict your movement. Baggy clothes oftentimes may be revealing in particular poses. For the ladies, I suggest a comfortable athletic top and breathable athletic pants or shorts. For the guys, try a tank top, tee, or a jersey that is comfortable and not too loose and athletic shorts with compression shorts underneath.

Be early. Come prepared – plan to come to class 15 minutes early to fill out any paperwork and introduce yourself to the instructor. Tell the instructor that it’s your first time in class and, believe me, they will provide adjustments and detailed instruction for you. Let your teacher know if you have any injuries, limitations, or medical conditions that might affect your practice. Most yoga poses can be modified to fit your needs. Leave your shoes, socks, and cell phone in a cubby. Set up your mat in the middle or back of the room where you can see the instructor. Bring a water bottle. Don’t forget to hydrate before, during and after your practice.

Listen. Be open to advice – you may find that an instructor offers a physical assist or an adjustment. These assists are offered to students so that they might experience the pose in a new way. It’s not that you are doing anything wrong or bad. If you receive an assist from an instructor, take it as a compliment. Remember yoga is not a competition; it’s called practice for a reason. Listen to your body and respect where your body is on that day. There are no gold stars handed out at the end of class. The most important thing in your practice is to have fun. With everything you do in life, you should enjoy it.

Remember to breathe – Inhale. Exhale. Your breath is paramount in your yoga practice. The breath is more important than the postures themselves. Yoga is a practice about linking together the body and mind. Your breath is the tool to link the two. So instead of trying to achieve the perfect pose, focus on your breathing and it will do wonders for your practice.

Come back – no matter how good or bad you think your first class might have gone please make a point to come back to the mat for another experience. Even if you feel like you were doing it wrong your first time, this practice is a process that gets richer every time you show up. If you did not resonate with the teacher, try out as many different teachers as you can until you find a teacher that you love. Come back. Smile. Learn. Have fun. Let go. Enjoy the journey.

Wilmington Yoga Center instructors welcome new students beginning their practice. New to our studio? Try our Newcomers Monthly Unlimited special–30 days of Unlimited Yoga for $30.

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