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How to Prepare for Your First Yoga Class: Tips and Expectations

Walking into your first yoga class can be an intimidating prospect. You might feel like an outsider entering into a club, but yoga is for anyone interested. When you are considering your first class, just know that chances are you are not the only first-timer, and everyone in the class you are attending was at one time experiencing their first class as well. 

Yoga is a very old practice and there are definitely some guidelines and expectations of those practicing. Knowing a few things before you attend a class is helpful, and it may even soothe some of that anxiety.

a woman practicing yoga

Yoga- What to Know Before You Go

Here are some things to know before you go:

You Don’t Need to be Flexible- You heard that right. Many people stay away from trying yoga because they feel that they are not flexible enough. But that is exactly why you should give yoga a try. You learn in the class how to stretch your body in ways that are safe and effective. 

Sanskrit- In most yoga practices, it is tradition to use Sanskrit, the universal language of yoga, to identify each pose. But fret not, you do not need to know Sanskrit to practice yoga. Instructors will most often call out both the Sanskrit and English names for each pose. 

a group practicing yoga

No Eating Before Class- You will not be asked when you had your last meal when you attend a class, but it is advised that you do not eat prior to class because a full stomach does not mix well with physical activity. The general rule is nothing too substantial for 60-90 minutes before practice. 

No Shoes or Socks- Of course, you are fine to wear your shoes to yoga, but most studios will have cubbies, lockers, or a designated spot for leaving your shoes and socks before entering into the yoga studio. 

Mats/Towels-  Most studios have mats and towels to rent or use, and this may be the way to go for your first few classes to make sure yoga is right for you before you invest in your own. 

Fitted Clothes- You want to wear something fitted that has the ability to stretch as you move through your practice. There is no standard outfit, but you do not want to wear something that is too loose that will end up slipping up as you move through your poses. 

Bring Water- Always bring a water bottle that has a lid that can close tightly. Most yoga studios will allow yogis to bring their closed beverages into the class to hydrate throughout the practice.

All Classes Are Different- There are many different styles of yoga. Some classes hold poses while others practice more continuous flow movements, and some instructors offer more fast-paced classes, while others are slower and more meditative. Some classes are even heated, so be sure to ask questions before deciding on what class is best for you. Many studios offer an introductory class, which is a great way to learn some basic postures. 

How to Perform Downward Facing Dog

One very common pose that you’ve maybe even heard of is Downward Facing Dog. It is used in most yoga practices, so it is a good one to know.

Maybe give this one a try before class! Downward Dog stretches and strengthens the entire body.  

How to do it:

  • Come onto all fours with your wrists under your shoulders and knees under your hips. 

  • Tuck under your toes and lift your hips up off the floor as you draw them up at back towards your heels.

  • Keep your knees slightly bent if your hamstrings are tight, otherwise try and straighten out your legs while keeping your hips back and heels reaching towards your mat. 

  • Walk your hands forward to give yourself more length if you need to.

  • Press firmly through your palms and rotate the inner elbows towards each other. 

  • Hollow out the abdominals and keep engaging your legs to keep the torso moving back towards the thighs. 

  • Hold for 5-8 breaths before dropping back to hands and knees to rest.


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