9 Tips for Surviving Your First Yoga Class

Though intim­i­dat­ing for many first-timers, yoga is an incred­i­ble way to nour­ish your mind, body, and spir­it. It can help you con­quer your fears and over­come your ego—likely the very things that are hold­ing you back from giv­ing it a try. Here are nine tips to sur­viv­ing your first yoga class.

Acknowl­edge That Try­ing Some­thing New is Scary
It’s okay to be a lit­tle ner­vous. Try­ing any­thing new can be intim­i­dat­ing, espe­cial­ly when it seems like every­one else is already a pro. Remem­ber: every­one had their first yoga class once. Acknowl­edge your fear, but don’t let it stop you. Sign up and show up—that’s the hard­est part.

tips-for-your-first-yoga-class
Ste­fano Tin­ti / Shutterstock.com

Find the Right Stu­dio and Class for You
Every stu­dio and teacher has their own approach. Some will fit you, some won’t. Ask friends for rec­om­men­da­tions or do a lit­tle online sleuthing. Many stu­dios offer a com­pli­men­ta­ry intro­duc­to­ry class or some kind of deal to make it pos­si­ble to try with­out com­mit­ting. If you don’t love your first expe­ri­ence, try some­thing else.

As for class­es, read up on descrip­tions. Yoga class­es come in all shapes and sizes—from slow, relax­ing yin-types to fast-paced, mus­cle-burn­ing flow class­es. Find some­thing that match­es what you’re look­ing for, and try out a few dif­fer­ent styles to get the full expe­ri­ence.

Get Ready and Gear Up
Most stu­dios will rent mats and tow­els, so there is no need to invest in your own equip­ment if you’d like to try it out before com­mit­ting. Wear some­thing non-con­stric­tive and com­fort­able. Don’t wor­ry about mak­ing a fash­ion state­ment, just make sure that you can move in what you’re wear­ing. Refrain from dous­ing your­self in per­fume, cologne, or oth­er smelly stuff. Drink plen­ty of water before class (includ­ing the day pri­or), espe­cial­ly if you’re try­ing hot yoga. Don’t eat any­thing too heavy and if you’re hun­gry an hour before, have some­thing small and clean, like a piece of fruit or some veg­gies.

Tell the Teacher it’s Your First TimeTell the Teacher it’s Your First Time
When you arrive at your stu­dio, tell the teacher that it’s your first time. The teacher will like­ly be thrilled to intro­duce you to yoga and many times, will offer spe­cif­ic cues through­out class so that you can fol­low what is going on. They might come over and offer you some adjustments—this isn’t a cri­tique, it’s a way of teach­ing you the prop­er way of doing a pose.

Secure Prime Mat Real Estate
A begin­ner might feel more com­fort­able some­where in the mid­dle of the room. You want to be close enough to the front so you’re able to see what’s going on, but it helps to have a few peo­ple around you to fol­low if you’re not sure what a par­tic­u­lar pose entails.

Lis­ten and Focus on You
Many peo­ple who try yoga are intim­i­dat­ed because they’re afraid that those around them will be judg­ing. Prac­tic­ing yoga is all about focus­ing your efforts on your­self. The truth is — the peo­ple around you are pre­oc­cu­pied with their own pos­es (that involve so many dif­fer­ent align­ment cues and mus­cle move­ments) that you may hard­ly notice your peers. Try to turn off your mind and just lis­ten. Lis­ten to the teacher and try to fol­low their cues and tips. Don’t think, just try.

One Step at a Time
Many pos­es offer mul­ti­ple vari­a­tions but don’t feel like you need to do the max­i­mum your first time. Yoga is about doing pos­es prop­er­ly to ben­e­fit your body. Don’t sac­ri­fice prop­er align­ment for depth. Know when to reel your ego.

Have an Open Mind
Many class­es will include breath­ing exer­cis­es, some “om”ing, and/or the singing of mantra towards the begin­ning and end of class. The first time you hear a room­ful of peo­ple erupt into a San­skrit chant, it can be a lit­tle star­tling. You don’t need to par­tic­i­pate in chants if you don’t know them or don’t feel com­fort­able — just sit qui­et­ly and lis­ten.

Namaste!
Class­es often close with a salu­ta­tion of “Namaste”. Take a moment after­wards to col­lect your­self, return any props you used (blocks, straps, etc.), clean down your mat and return it to the appro­pri­ate area. Con­grat­u­late your­self on hav­ing tried some­thing new!