Your first Yoga class: What to expect

By Shailen Lakhani - Last update


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So you’ve signed up to do a yoga class for the first time and you’re feeling a bit apprehensive about it. Maybe you’re not sure what exactly it involves, or if it’ll be too tough, or you don’t know what kind of clothing to wear. Well don’t worry, we’ve got all the info you need to put you at ease right here.

Just go with the flow

If you’re joining a yoga class for the first time, the chances are that you’ll be practising Hatha yoga. Forget about the frightening-looking backbends and elaborately complicated Asanas (an Asana is basically a body pose) you may associate with yoga, Hatha is perfectly suited for beginners: it is gentle, slow-moving and uncompetitive.

Classes typically begin and end with a short relaxation period in which you lie on your back, close your eyes and concentrate of breathing and on getting your body to relax.

Once the initial relaxation period is finished, initiates will be guided through a series of basic postures at a nice, unhurried pace. If a particular stretch or pose feels uncomfortable in any way, just relax – instructors will help tailor it specifically for you so that you get the maximum benefit while feeling no discomfort.

Take a deep breath

Controlled breathing is an essential part of yoga practice. This will be made quite clear within minutes of your first session as you’ll be encouraged to regulate your breathing to work in synch with your bodily movements. This will help you feel more at ease both physically and mentally as you learn to slowly release any tension you may be carrying due to poor posture or regular day-to-day concerns.

You’re not alone

Other practitioners on a beginner’s yoga class are either complete novices like you, or have been out of practise for a while and are looking to refamiliarise themselves with the basics. This means that everyone else is just as liable to make mistakes, lose their balance, and be as confused by the terminology as you are, and it doesn’t matter – after all, you’re there to learn, relax and enjoy yourself!

To bring, or not to bring

The most important thing to bring to your first yoga class is an open mind. Pay attention to the instructor, not the person next to you (though admittedly this can be quite difficult as classes can get pretty crowded!). While you may very well be in a communal environment, it’s still pretty much a personal experience.

When it comes to equipment, thankfully the checklist is a pretty short one. If you have a yoga mat, then great; if not, you can borrow or rent one – for a euro or so – from the studio (who’ll also provide other bits and bobs such as yoga blocks for sitting on and for helping modify certain poses, or blankets for warmth during the relaxation periods).

In terms of clothing, try wear something that you’ll be comfortable stretching in. Tracksuit bottoms, leggings, shorts are all perfectly suitable, as are t-shirts and tank tops. And as classes are conducted barefoot there’s no need to go splashing out on fancy trainers.

Apart from the above, maybe bring a bottle of water and you’re good to go!

Etiquette

Before

It’s best if you don’t eat a large meal before class as it will leave you feeling heavy, bloated and lethargic – not an ideal start! Instead have something small an hour or so beforehand such as a yoghurt or piece of fruit.

During

Always be respectful of the space and of your fellow students. Upon entering the studio you may find some people lying on their backs relaxing, stretching or meditating, so try be as quiet as possible so as not to disturb anyone. And make sure to do the same when you’re leaving.

After

After the class, you should also feel free to approach your instructor if you have any questions about what you’ve learned.


Shailen Lakhani

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