Happy New Year, everyone! The year of 2019 is now in full effect, and what better way to kick off this new season of life than with some rejuvenating yoga? Yoga offers so many wonderful benefits, which is why it is an excellent activity to start incorporating into your weekly routine. Whether your New Year’s resolution is to begin taking yoga classes, or you’re simply eager to try one out, here are 8 things to know before you take your first class.
1. You do not have to be “flexible” or “fit” to enjoy yoga
When thinking about yoga, most tend to think of two things: tremendous flexibility and complex poses. In fact, a quick search of the word “yoga” on Google will result in millions of pictures of individuals twisted into extreme positions wearing fancy leggings. Don’t let this intimidate or discourage you; you don’t need to be flexible, extremely fit, or have perfect balance to practice yoga. The culture of yoga has unfortunately been morphed into an activity that requires a certain level of flexibility or athleticism to be successful. However, this is not the case; anyone can practice and enjoy yoga. Yoga is all about developing mindfulness and improving your everyday life through different techniques, not accomplishing poses that seem to defy gravity and contorting in difficult ways.
2. You are not expected to have mastered every single pose in class, so don’t stress if you are unable to do some
In any yoga class, every individual will have practiced yoga for a different amount of time than others. While some may have practiced for years and can subsequently do the majority of the poses, others will only be capable of doing some, and that is perfectly acceptable. In a good yoga class with an encouraging environment, everyone in the class is not expected nor pressured to perform every single pose, but celebrated for whatever their body can accomplish.
For the more challenging poses, a good teacher should always provide instructions on how to modify the pose, and it is completely acceptable to do the modified version. You will still gain several useful benefits from the modified version that will help you eventually accomplish the unmodified version. The most important thing to do is to listen to your body. Do not ever push yourself farther than what your body is capable of. Instead, listen to your body, and do not stress, nor be embarrassed, if you are unable to do a pose.
3. You are your biggest critic
“You are your biggest critic,” is a common notion for everyday life. And, this is no different when it comes to yoga. A lot of times, when an individual tries something new, they can set unrealistic expectations and harshly judge themselves. Often times, an individual may go to their first yoga class, and feel inadequate or embarrassed after. However, it is important to remember that YOU are your biggest critic, and that you are the only one who is being so harsh on yourself. Before beginning your yoga class, remember that yoga is all about connecting to your body and breath with others around you, and that your goal is to simply better yourself, not meet any expectations.
4. Wear something comfortable and form-fitting
As far as your yoga attire goes, be sure to wear something comfortable and form-fitting. Wear something that will absorb sweat, but also allow you to easily move, stretch, and breathe. Most individuals prefer yoga leggings and a comfortable T-shirt or fitted tank top. However, there is no right or wrong attire; wear what is most comfortable for you. Also, be sure to wear something that is more on the form-fitting side to avoid your clothes billowing out or getting in the way as you move through the routine – there’s nothing worse than holding downward facing dog with the collar of your shirt in your face! If you do wear a T-shirt, tuck it into your pants. Fortunately, there’s no need to worry about having particular shoes for yoga classes, as it is practiced barefoot.
5. Introduce yourself to the instructor
If it’s your first yoga class, it’s always a good idea to arrive early and introduce yourself to the instructor. Tell them it’s your first time there and address any concerns or questions you may have with them. This will alert the instructor to take more time to assist you throughout the class, if needed, and provide you with any helpful tips.
6. Always bring a yoga mat, towel, and water bottle
No matter what type of yoga class you attend, you’ll need to always bring three things: your yoga mat, a towel, and a water bottle. Your yoga mat is what you will perform the poses on, the water bottle is crucial to stay hydrated, and your towel is to wipe away sweat, either on you or your mat. Any other supplies, such as bolsters and blocks, should be provided by the yoga facility or available for rent, but be sure to call and confirm this prior to your class.
7. Basic yoga etiquette that you should know
Regardless of which yoga class you attend, always expect to follow these basic guidelines. First off, always silence your cell phone or other electronics, and leave them outside the class. Most studios should have a space for you to store these belongings while you are in class. Secondly, when choosing where to place your mat, follow the typical row-like pattern. Do not place your mat too close to another individual, and always adjust the placement of your mat, if needed, to make room for another individual. Lastly, be sure to always be on time and ready on your mat before the class starts, and do not leave early. Since the goal is to maintain focus with as few outside distractions as possible, this would be disrespectful to both your fellow classmates, as well as your instructor.
8. Never come to class with a full stomach
It is never a good idea to come to a yoga class with a full stomach. However, it is also never a good idea to come on an empty stomach, either. So, it’s important to find that happy medium. Before coming to class, eat a small snack, such as yogurt, fruit, or nuts, to give you a small boost of energy and to prevent light-headedness. Just be sure to avoid eating a heavy meal right beforehand, or coming without eating anything at all!
Now That You are Ready for Your First Yoga Class, Join us at The Yoga Connection!
Here at The Yoga Connection in Smithfield, NC, we offer a variety of yoga classes in a friendly and nurturing atmosphere. Our exceptional yoga instructors can help you receive all the many benefits yoga has to offer, whether you are at a beginner or immediate level, and assist you in developing a passion for yoga. Call us today to learn more about our yoga classes at 919-971-1431 or view our classes online.