A Guide to Preparing for Your First Ever Yoga Class


A Guide to Preparing for Your First Ever Yoga Class

Over the last few decades, yoga has become one of the most popular forms of physical fitness in the United States as well as around the world. Although it is so popular, yoga tends to have a sense of expertise about it, which can drive many people away from ever trying their first class.

To prepare for your first yoga class, you will want to:

  • Dress in comfortable, flexible exercise clothing
  • Find a comfortable yoga mat that fits you and your budget
  • Start stretching every day to become more flexible
  • Contact your instructor to see what equipment you will need

Yoga is an excellent practice for all-around health, and it is easy to get started. Let’s talk about what yoga actually is, what kind is right for you, and everything you need to know in order to get ready for your first yoga class.

A Guide to Preparing for Your First Ever Yoga Class

Almost any workout class can seem intimidating. Most people think that you have to be flexible, in good shape, and young to do yoga, but that is not the case. Yoga is one of the most inviting classes that you can try, and it will actually help you beyond just physical fitness. 

Yoga encompasses mental health as well as physical health in the teachings and poses involved in the classes. 

There are over 30 million people in the United States alone practicing yoga on a regular basis. It is an ideal activity for those who are looking to enhance every aspect of their health in one practice. Here are some of the main reasons why yoga is so popular:

  • Different experience level classes are offered
  • Great for beginners since it is relatively low impact
  • Is a popular way to switch up your workout routine

The best thing about a yoga class is that you essentially need nothing to prepare for your first class. Many of the beginner classes are designed to give you an introduction to yoga to see if yoga is something that you can dedicate your time to. There are no special outfits, tools, or moves that you need in order to get ready for your first class.

With that being said, if you are serious about getting the most out of your first yoga class, a little preparation never hurt anyone. This article will help you find out what yoga practice is right for you, what you need for your first class, and some tips to help you maximize the benefits from all forms of yoga.

How to Prepare for Your First Yoga Class

Depending on what class you signed up for, your experience may be different. Most classes require a few items, but they will let you know what to bring before you ever start. If you have friends or family who participate in yoga classes, asking them what to expect may ease your mind. 

In all honesty, for most classes, you just need to show up! If the class is at a yoga studio or a recreation center, they may have equipment that you can rent or borrow if you do not have your own equipment.

If you are nervous about your first class, then spend some time doing your research. Although you feel like you will be judged for being new to the class, most yoga classes are welcoming and easy to follow. While looking up beginner poses or practicing your stretching won’t hurt, it is not necessary to enjoy your first yoga class.

Let’s talk about what you can expect, what you need, and what to do in your first class.

What Happens at a Typical Yoga Class?

Depending on what yoga you sign up for, your first class should act as a great introduction to yoga itself as well as some general poses and breathing techniques. Upon entering the yoga studio, you should have your mat, a towel, and a bottle of water. 

If your class uses any props or equipment, you should also pick these up before the class begins. If you are unsure what you need, don’t be afraid to ask your instructor or someone else in the class. 

Most yoga classes will begin with a chanting session, or audio recording played to initiate the beginning of the class. Your instructor may guide you into the child’s pose or another resting pose before beginning your session. The poses and breathing techniques that follow will depend on what class you are in.

There should be an ending pose similar to a savasana pose, which is essentially just lying flat on your mat. Lastly, your instructor will likely end the session with a group “Namaste” and may even another chanting session or audio recording.

Equipment You Need for Yoga

For yoga, you need two main pieces of equipment. The first being your body, and the second being a mat. Your mat is the only equipment you should need for your first class. If you are not ready to buy a mat, call the studio or center prior to your first class to see if they have mats that you can rent or borrow for your class. 

The following items are the most popular equipment that you will see in a yoga class.

Yoga Mats Are Crucial

If there is anything you should purchase before your first yoga class, it is a yoga mat. Your mat is the essential tool you can have for yoga, and it has many purposes. The most crucial being to act as a cushion between you on the floor, but also to help you stay stable. 

While you can rent or borrow a mat, most yogis prefer to have their own to make sure they are sanitized and clean.

Mat Bags to Protect Your Investment

If you decide to purchase your own mat, make sure you pick up a bag or a sling to carry it back and forth between classes. These make it much easier to transport your mat, and it keeps it safe from any damage while it is not in use. 

While a bag offers the most protection, a sling easily slides onto the mat and provides a sort of handle to carry the mat. 

Blankets for Cushioning

While a yoga studio may not seem like the place for a blanket, they play essential roles in how comfortable your yoga session is. Blankets can be used to provide extra cushioning for certain positions. These are especially important for supporting your hips if you have weak areas or a previous injury. They can also help keep you warm during the cool-down period of the class.

Blocks to Help Balance

In certain beginner classes, you may actually use blocks. These are ideal for helping learn the correct form of poses and making them easier to achieve. Blocks can be made of different materials but are useful to help with balance if you are starting out. You can pick up your own set of blocks, but the studio usually provides these.

Straps to Increase Flexibility

If this is truly your first yoga class, chances are you may not be the most flexible in the room. Luckily, straps are a great way to help you properly do certain poses even if you are not flexible. Adjustable yoga strap.

Bolsters Help with Injury and Pregnancy

Depending on your physical fitness levels, bolsters can be a huge help. If you struggle with bending or have knee pain, bolsters can be used to ease the intensity of those specific stretches and poses. 

They come in both round and flat shapes that can be used in different movements. If you are pregnant or dealing with an injury, these are standard props that you may see in your first class.

Wheels

Chances are you won’t see a wheel in your first yoga class, but depending on your instructor, they may want to incorporate them into their teachings. Wheels allow you to smoothly deepen into poses while holding the handles of a wheel. Wheels are typically reserved for balance training and stability strengthening.

What You Should Wear for Your Class

Something that a lot of people stress over is what to wear to a yoga class. You have probably seen those matching sets all over social media. Still, the truth is you should wear items that are comfortable to you but allow you to perform poses and exercises without the items becoming cumbersome. Here are some tips on what to wear to your first yoga class. 

Wear Stretchy Bottoms

For most of your outer garments, you can wear whatever you want. As long as they fit you well and allow you to stretch comfortably, they will work for your first yoga class. Depending on your personal preferences and the style of class you are taking, you may choose to wear shorts or pants.

Fitted Tops Are Best

While you may not want to wear a more fitted top to a workout class, fitted tops are the best option for yoga classes. These tops work the best because you do not have to worry about them sliding up or down your body while you are doing specific poses.

Think About Specialized Undergarments

It is not uncommon for women to wear a specified yoga bra to classes instead of some sort of short or long sleeve top. These bras provide more coverage than a standard sports bra or bra, and they additionally provide enough support for the class. You can wear whatever you feel comfortable in as long as it is easy for you to stretch and move around in without getting pinched.

Yoga Socks

Yoga classes are typically done with bare feet. If you are someone who does not feel comfortable not wearing shoes in public, there are yoga socks that you can purchase before your first class. Yoga socks feature a gripping bottom, which allows you to maintain grip during certain poses.

While it is not common, some also wear shoes that are specifically for their yoga class. Since shoes are typically left outside of the studio, make sure they are clean before wearing them in a class.

Headbands

If you have longer hair, a yoga class’s best option is to keep your hair up or out of your face. You can do this with a headband or only a hair tie.

What is the Correct Etiquette for Your First Yoga Class?

Yoga is a sacred practice for those who teach and participate in the classes. You want to make sure that you familiarize yourself with what to expect before you arrive. Knowing what to do before you arrive can help ease your stress. Here are a few tips to help you understand what to do, bring, and expect for your first class.

10 Tips for Your First Yoga Class

Always Arrive to Class Early

One of the biggest mistakes people make during their first yoga class is that they do not show up on time. Arriving early allows you to talk to your instructor before class, place your mat and gather props, and to use the bathroom or warm-up before your session begins.

Make Sure to Talk to Your Instructor

If you feel nervous or unsure about your first class, make sure you take the time to talk with your instructor. Not only can they tell you what to expect during their class, but they may also be able to ease some of your worries. It is also an excellent opportunity to build a connection with your instructor.

You are Not Going to Get Everything Right

Many people are afraid to go into a yoga class because they have no prior experience in yoga, or their strength is not where they want it to be. Chances are you are not going to get everything right in your first class, but it is a great learning experience, and your instructor will be able to help you progress.

Your Instructor May Adjust Your Poses

Part of certain yoga classes may actually involve your instructor touching you. They do this to help you perfect your positioning and to guide you to correct poses. If you are uncomfortable with them touching you, this is something you need to communicate with your instructor. 

They may be able to come up with a solution that helps you improve your posture and positioning during the class

Do Not Eat a Heavy Meal Before Your Class

When it comes to yoga, the last thing you want to do is to eat a heavy meal before your class. This can cause your body to produce gas, odd sounds, or can even make you feel nauseated.

Ideally, it would be best to eat a healthy and filling meal at least two hours before any yoga session. Doing so will allow your body to digest your meal, and it will reduce any bodily functions from showing up in a quiet class.

Leave Your Phone in Your Locker or Bag

Unless it is an absolute emergency or you are a doctor-on-call, you should avoid bringing your phone into the yoga studio. If you are about to schedule your first yoga class, make sure it is at a time that you are entirely free

Avoid scheduling them during your work hours, children’s doctor’s appointments, or any other small window of time. Doing this will help you stay focused on your class. Additionally, if your phone goes off in the middle of class, it will disrupt others.

Don’t Step on Other People’s Mats

Another massive mistake during your first yoga class is to step on other people’s equipment, especially their mats. Yoga classes are set up to allow everyone ample room to stretch, do the poses, and to have their personal space. Not only would stepping on someone else’s mat be invading their space, but it is also considered very rude.

Wear Layers if You Need To

Depending on the class you pick, wearing layers might be a good option for you. They are great to keep you warm at the beginning of the session, and you can easily place them beside your mat when you choose to take them off. Extra layers can also be a huge benefit if you need extra support or cushioning for a pose and even as a blanket towards the class’s end.

Avoid Speaking or Leaving in the Middle of Your Class

One of the most significant aspects of yoga is respect. Your instructor will show you respect even if it’s your first class, and they will expect respect in return. Speaking during a yoga class is looked down upon unless it is an emergency.

Additionally, you should avoid leaving the class unless it is a rest period, and only if it is an emergency or a restroom break. If you think you may have to leave a class early, communicate with the instructor prior to the beginning of the class, or reschedule for another time. 

Beginner Poses You Should Be Aware Of

Sometimes you may want to do more preparation for your first yoga class. Like studying for an exam to make you feel more confident and ready, you can learn about beginner yoga poses so that you have a better idea of your physical capabilities and what you can expect during your class. Here are some of the most popular moves that you can practice at home:

  • Mountain Pose: Standing with raise chest, palms facing your body
  • Downward Dog: Backside in the air with palms stretched out in front of you, feet towards the back of the mat parallel to each other
  • Plank: Palms and feet on the mat, supporting the raised body in a straight position
  • Warrior: Lunge position with arms together pointing upward, head looking upward as well
  • Child’s Pose: Kneel on the mat, body bent over, arms stretched out ahead of you with head tucked between arms. A child’s pose is often used to start a class.
  • Shavasana: Often the last pose in a class, this is lying back on your mat, facing upward, with your palms turned upward.

Additionally, Ultimate Yoga Poses for Beginners Pocket Guide, offers the Top 20 Yoga Poses for Beginners. Simple step-by-step instructions with images and modifications.

These are some of the most basic yoga moves out there. In a typical beginner’s class, your instructor should go over certain poses with you. Depending on the instructor, they may formally educate you on how certain poses benefit your body and the correct way to do them.

As you practice yoga more, your body will become familiar with these moves allowing your muscles to become stronger as you perform them. You will also begin to see additional benefits from yoga with regular practice.

Why Should You Practice Yoga?

The biggest reason to practice yoga is that you can start a class no matter your fitness level. It is a low impact workout that allows you to improve various areas of your overall health. Having been practiced for over 5,000 years, it has withstood the test of time.

Yoga is also a widespread workout class that can be found almost anywhere. Even if you live in a smaller town, chances are there is a yoga studio or at least a recreation center that offers classes. Here are some additional benefits of yoga:

  • Lowers systolic blood pressure
  • Improves respiratory rate
  • Improves posture and strengthens muscles
  • Balances metabolism, energy, and vitality
  • Helps with weight loss
  • Improves cardio and circulatory health

An additional reason why you should practice yoga is that it requires nearly no prior knowledge. Your height, weight, age, and gender do not play any role in how good or bad you will be at yoga. You can walk into a beginner class and be introduced to yoga’s history, the basics of the practice, and you will improve overtime with regular participation.

Are There Different Kinds of Yoga?

A common misconception about yoga is that it is a one size fits all practice. The truth is there are five central practices of yoga that all focus on providing different benefits to those who choose to practice. Here are some of the most popular forms of yoga that you can participate in: 

  • Ashtanga Yoga: Uses ancient techniques and breathing
  • Bikram Yoga: Referred to as hot yoga and uses poses and breathing
  • Hatha Yoga: General yoga introduction
  • Iyengar Yoga: Focuses on correct posture using tools
  • Jivamukti Yoga: Focuses on the flow between the poses

Some yoga classes are better than others for beginners. If you are looking to get the basics, you should sign up for a Hatha yoga class to get the general basics down before expanding into more strenuous or strict classes. 

If you are on the fence about what class is right for you, try to contact the instructor or look for some example classes online to see if it is right for you. It may also be beneficial to look up certain poses found in each style of class.

How to Be Prepared for Your First Yoga Class 

If you want to prepare for your class in order to get the most out of it, there are a few things you can do that will not only help familiarize you with an average yoga class, but it will also make you feel more comfortable during your first class as well. Here are some additional tips to help you get the most out of your first yoga class and to ease your worry.

  • Arrive to class early
  • Always talk to your instructor
  • Don’t expect to be perfect 
  • Be aware that your instructor may touch you
  • Avoid eating big meals before your class 
  • Leave your phone, beeper, or pager in your bag or locker
  • Don’t step on other people’s mats
  • Wear layers if you are worried about the room temperature
  • Do not speak or leave while a class is in progress

If you are nervous about your first class, always do research on what to expect, or even talk to your instructor about how you are feeling, your abilities, or even what you should look into before the class begins.

Final Thoughts

Yoga is one of the best all-around wellness classes you can take right now. Not only can it have a significant impact on both your mental and physical health, but it is also excellent for those looking for a more disciplined practice to improve their mindfulness. Although yoga is over 5,000 years old, it has excellent modern-day benefits outside of being a workout, such as:

  • Lowers systolic blood pressure
  • Improves respiratory rate
  • Improves posture and strengthens muscles
  • Balances metabolism, energy, and vitality
  • Helps with weight loss
  • Improves cardio and circulatory health

When preparing for your first yoga class, you may feel intimidated or nervous about your level of expertise. In order to prepare for your first yoga class, you essentially need one thing. 

The most important thing you need is the willingness to participate in the class. Most studios or centers offer equipment that you can rent until you are ready to commit to a yoga program.

Yoga is scary for many of those who have never tried it before. The yoga community is full of people with different experience levels and is also supportive of those who are just starting out.

Enjoy your class!

~Namaste!

Dakota Carroll

Yoga have been a part of Dakota's life for 10+ years. Her practice has helped her grow stronger, more flexible and fearless. Dakota encourages her students to be creative and challenge the body. She seeks to inspire every student to feel refreshed, nourished and balanced both on and off the mat.

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