Just the thought of attending your very first yoga class may strike fear in your heart. Here are some suggestions, combined with yoga etiquette, to help you transition smoothly through your first few classes.
- Bring a yoga mat (sometimes called a sticky mat) to class. Most studios provide or rent mats but it is nice to have your own. If purchasing a mat, make certain it is designed specifically for yoga and not an exercise or pilates mat. Yoga is always practiced in bare feet to establish a connection with the earth.
- Have a light snack about an hour before class (i.e. fruit and nuts, or a granola bar). Wait at least 3-4 hours after a large meal before practicing yoga. Your digestive system will thank you.
- Wear comfortable workout clothing. Oversized clothing is not recommended. It is nice to have a pair of socks or an extra layer of clothing for relaxation at the end of class.
- Refrain from wearing perfume or strongly scented moisturizers, shampoos, etc. as this can be a problem for others with allergies or sensitivities.
- Turn off your cell phone before entering a yoga studio. Even a phone on vibrate can be very distracting to the peacefulness of the studio and especially to the yoga class.
- Arrive 10-15 minutes early. Check in at the front desk. Place extra items or valuables in a locker. Leave your shoes outside the yoga room (paying respect to the space). Take anything of value inside the room with you.
- If there is another class in session, be respectful by waiting quietly outside the room. When the class is released, feel free to enter the room.
- Set up your mat and gather any necessary props for the class. It is helpful for beginners to regularly use props until they become more familiar with the postures. Try not to walk on other people’s mats. It is their personal space. The time before class is meant as a quiet time to rest or meditate. If you must talk, whisper. Put away your props at the end of class.
- If you have any health concerns that may affect your class, let the teacher know before the class begins. This will allow the teacher to help you with modifications if necessary.
- The teacher may offer you verbal or physical adjustments. This is not meant as a criticism but merely a guide to help you receive the most benefit from the posture.
- If the teacher offers a modification for a posture, feel free to use it, especially in the beginning until you become more familiar with the poses. Yoga is non-competitive and people are encouraged to work at their own level of ability. Respect your body’s limitations. Feel free to rest at any time if your body needs a break.
- Avoid leaving class early. If you do need to leave early, kindly let the teacher know before class and do so before relaxation begins.
- If you should arrive a little late and class has already begun, don’t panic. Most teachers will allow you to enter the room. Check with the front desk if unsure of the studio’s policy. If the class is quiet (perhaps in a centering), enter and sit down toward the back of the room or wherever you can be the least distracting to others. Wait until centering is over. When the class has begun to get underway, feel free to roll out your mat and join the class.
- At the end of class (or the beginning) the teacher may acknowledge everyone with “Namaste”. This gesture is performed by bringing hands to prayer position at heart center and lightly bowing the head forward. A simple translation of Namaste is: the spirit within me acknowledges and honors the spirit within you.
Each time you attend a yoga class, you will become more and more comfortable with the setting and the routine. The most important thing is to relax and enjoy your class. Congratulations for embarking upon such a fabulous journey!
Linda Hill, Certified Yoga Instructor
CNY Healing Arts Center