Thinking about stepping into your first yoga class but have no clue what to expect? Not to worry, this guide will help you navigate your first practice like a seasoned yogi.
Here's what you need to know:
They all mean the same thing but you'll find 'props' to be the most popular term used.
These are things that assist you in moving through your practice safely. The most sought after props, aside from your yoga mat, are:
- blocks: these are foamy blocks that can be used to allow for height and reach in your poses. They can also be used for resting and lifting areas of your body.
- straps: these are great for reach. For example, as you press your feet onto a strap you're also lengthening the back of your legs. Without pressing into a yoga strap, you won't have resistance to press against.
- bolsters: a favourite in the community! Bolsters can be long, wide and cushiony pillow-like props or narrow and slightly firmer - depending on what they're being used for. They are perfect for sitting for longer periods, melting your body onto them in a restorative practice, or simply as an assist during your class.
Less popular props are things like:
- balls: not commonly found, balls are a great addition for some fascia release or when targeting the balls of your feet and even your temples. They're great for a yoga/pilates fusion as well.
- sandbags: when a little weight can go far, these are what you're after. They're mainly used in therapy and restorative practices to give students a sense of groundness in their postures.
- blankets: not much to explain here. They provide a sense of warmth and calmness during the last pose of Savasana. Though also used for deeper practices such as shoulder stand, they can be used for simpler poses as well.
At the start of class, it's best practice to have your props at an arms length. So grab the items you will need, or that the teacher asks that you all get, before the class begins. That way, you're not left compromising your body by having to twist around to grab them.
Since Lululemon became the go-to yoga wear, the 'lulus' nickname is still in play. Though there are now a whole lot of different players, you'll see the little logo on every other yogi in the class.
The clothes you'd like to source from your closet are comfortable workout clothes (not the baggy kind) that won't limit your movement when stepping forward or when sweating. If baggy is what you're wearing, reconsider. You'll notice that when your head goes below your heart, all that extra fabric will go with gravity.
Many times there have been students that go to class with their favourite pair of shorts only to find themselves hardly able to move because the fabric sticks to their skin when sweating. You don't want that.
You don't have to go for the stretchy pants either. Just put on some comfortable clothes and move around at home. If your range of motion is good, head off to class!
It's understandable being a little self-conscious about our toes, but your mat doesn't care. Going barefoot helps you stick to your mat for more traction in every pose - and you want traction. You get to focus on working with your body rather than against it.
With socks, it's a lot more challenging because you tend to slip. The traction is there only when putting pressure on your feet to stay connected to your mat. Though a pretty great workout, it's not what you're aiming for in your first class.
Go barefoot. Lose the socks!
Staying hydrated is important - if you're looking into hot yoga or not. Every time you move your body more rigorously, it loses moisture. Replenishing moisture into your cells is what you're wanting to do. Say 'no' to headaches!
Though you can reach for your water bottle and drink at anytime during your practice, pay close attention to when your teacher offers a mini water break. They've planned their class around a water break.
This one is a no brainer but there are times when students come in late. If this is your case, respect the others that did arrive on time by entering the room quietly and putting down your mat (and props) without much noise.
The class may be in the middle of a centering and breathing exercise that can be disrupted by someone walking in late.
Don't be surprised if the doors are locked when you arrive. The studio may have a policy that doors close 5 minutes after the start of a scheduled class. If that's the case, own up to being late and don't cause a problem.
This is THE most important element you can start in your practice today. Start to breathe. Concentrate on your every inhale and exhale. Consciously working with your breath throughout your movement.
Your teacher will begin by guiding you; cueing an inhale and exhale. Follow along. They will remind you to breathe should they notice you holding your breath. The breath is such a power tool we have but it's underused most of the time.
There's nothing worse than being close-minded in a yoga class - movement and beliefs are across the board and this space is welcoming of all.
If you're not open to working with your body and those around you, you won't enjoy your class. Even if you're planning on taking your first class at home, the teacher guiding you is bringing all they've got to get you to experience the benefits of yoga. With a close mind, you won't fully appreciate it.
That person two mats from you has been doing yoga for years, but they started where you are right now. Stop following their practice. Follow yours!
Injuring yourself because you wanted to jump into a plank without ever doing a plank in your life, won't do you any good. Notice where your body is at and where your starting from. If you keep up your practice, you will get there, but for today pay attention to where you're at and go at your own pace.
Make eye contact with your teacher. Let them know you're new to yoga and they will keep a closer eye on you.
There you have it! With this, you should blend right in. Though many more things may come up, you've got the basics.
If you think of something missed in this list, feel free to let us know in the comments.
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