Jan 10, 2023
I love yoga. Knowing the rewards that yoga can bring, I often wonder why there are not more people doing it. Everyone can benefit from yoga, regardless of age or level of physical fitness. I encourage my friends to come to classes with me but I hear the same thing over and over again, “I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible!” This is kinda surprising, Yoga is not just about flexibility, and yoga is definitely not just for flexible people — absolutely everyone can do yoga!
So, to try and remove some of the mystique about the practice of yoga, here are some quick and easy tips for what to expect at your first yoga class.
1. When you step into a beginner’s yoga class, you will find most people won’t be able to touch their toes or sit cross-legged on the floor and will have very little knowledge of yoga. It’s a beginner’s class, right? Chances are, you will not see someone performing yoga poses in the same way you have seen in magazines or videos. These are often professional teachers or advanced practitioners, i.e. someone that has been practicing for many years to be able to perform yoga poses with ease. These people do not go to beginner’s classes, they teach them. Remember it is their job as a yoga teacher to offer you a safe and comfortable place to learn, and they won’t expect you to be anything but a beginner.
2. Fear of the unknown often means we avoid trying new things. It is very unlikely that something will happen in a yoga class that you won’t be able to handle. You will probably end up along side people, just like yourself, who want to live happier, healthier lives.
3. To help remove some of the ‘fear factor’ let’s go though what is going to happen when you go to a yoga class.
4. What happens next will depend on what style of yoga class you are attending. The teacher my start by chanting “OM” in which case you are welcome to join in the chant or you can just sit quietly until it is over. The teacher will then guide you through a series of yoga poses or asanas, accompanied by a guided breath. It is the combination of the breath, asanas and focused attention that make it yoga rather than just exercise. If the guided breath seems complicated and you can’t keep up, then you can just breathe deeply through your nose. You will get the hang of it eventually.
5. The last posture of the class is usually Savasana. You will be asked to lie down on your back and rest for between 5-10 minutes. Although it may seem like you are not doing very much this is another very important yoga asana. It is used to bring the breath and heart rate back to normal, while allowing the body to absorb the prana or energy from the yoga practice. It helps to relieve stress, mild depression, headaches, fatigue and insomnia and it lowers blood pressure. This pose is a great opportunity to reach a state of deep relaxation that we don’t often get to experience in our everyday lives. I know many people who just show up to class just to do this pose. The teacher will let you know when it is time to get up and the class is over.
6. Save any in depth questions you have for the teacher until the end of the class but if you feel any pain, or you are lightheaded during class, stop and let the teacher know.
Yoga is spreading to many smaller cities and towns. If you live in a major city you should be able to find many beginners yoga classes. It may take a bit of time to find what works for you but use this as an opportunity to try new things and experiment with various yoga studios and styles. You could be drawn to a more dynamic style of yoga or you may want to mix it up and do many different styles. Try out different teachers, too. Sometimes it is just a matter of finding the right teacher that makes everything ‘click’.
Hopefully this survival guide will help you make it through your first yoga class and you will be well on your way to a happier, healthier you.