Welcome to our Beginners Guide to Your First Yoga Class
written by Connie Abbas, our in house Beginner Yoga Specialist. Connie has
prepared the below guide for you to help prepare you for your first class and
ease any worries or nervousness you may be experiencing.
At Namaste Studios we understand that choosing to come to your first yoga
class can put you out of your comfort zone and can be downright
intimidating! Our staff is committed to welcoming and assisting you to help
you feel at home when you walk in the doors.
Are you considering attending your first yoga class but have questions that
you’re too afraid to ask? Read the below tips to help set your mind at ease.
The Beginners Mind
Listen, you won’t be “bad at yoga”. Yes, there will be people in class who are
stronger and more flexible than you, but so what? It’s the approach with
which you practice that is key! Patience, openness, the commitment to show
up on your mat, respecting your body’s boundaries, learning to connect with
sensation and your breath and the willingness to be in the present moment
are all far more important than whether you can balance in tree pose for 5
Let the instructor know of your fitness history, any injuries or limitations
before class. Don’t be shy in this regard, as it’s in your best interest- your
teacher can, for example, offer helpful modifications for certain postures to
avoid possible re injury or cause pain. Ideally, start in a class specially
designed for beginners - where you will learn foundational poses, alignment
and breathing fundamentals. Arrive 5-10 minutes early for class to give
yourself time to get settled in. And be sure to place your mat so that you can
beat hear and see the teacher.
Adho mukha what?!
Yes, your teacher may use some Sanskrit names to refer to the yoga poses
but don’t sweat it! The more classes you attend, the more familiar you will
become with the yoga lingo, and don’t worry, we won’t leave you hanging in
the dark not knowing what to do next.
As a beginner it may be difficult to distinguish the difference between pain
and discomfort. Pain is sharp, like a sudden pinching sensation. You should
not feel pain during yoga. Discomfort is more like a nagging sensation and
may ease off or intensifying depending on the length of time you are holding
a pose. The golden rule of thumb is - you know your own body better than
anyone else and if something feels wrong, it probably is, so slowly ease your
way back out of the stretch and take rest in child’s pose at any time you need
to catch your breath.
Don’t be afraid to use blocks, straps, or cover up in a blanket during
Savanasa. Using props during a yoga class can help bring the earth to you
(reduce the reach) to assist with flexibility and provide support. Don’t have a
mat, that’s ok. Most studios/teachers will have a mat you can use but you
should check before hand. Ps. Don’t forget to bring water.
What to wear?!
I suggest layers on the top half so that if you build up enough heat, you can
remove a layer and put it on again during Savasana. Wear something that’s
not too lose as you will be forward folding, hanging upside, bending and
twisting (don’t be scared). Leggings, stretchy shorts or loose pants but
nothing too slippery. And yes yoga is typically practiced in bare feet but you
might like to put them back on just before final relaxation.
Eyes On Your Own Mat
Yoga is not a competition. There are no winners or losers. We practice
progress, not perfection. Keep your eyes on your own mat in order to focus
on moving through the class in a way that serves your body and your needs.
The goal of yoga isn’t touching your toes but about what you learn on the
way down. No two bodies are the same. So what you can’t squat down in
Malasana or balance yet on one foot! Don’t expect your body to move or look
like the person next to you.
Many yoga classes will begin with a chance to breath and centre before
moving into the postures. At the start of class, the teacher may take the time
to explain the theme of the class or give you the time to set your own
intention. For example, you may decide to focus on breathing deeply
throughout the class, or to practice not judging yourself or others. Offering
gratitude for the opportunity to use yoga to care for your body is another way
to ground your practice. Whatever your focus, call it to mind any time you
need some inspiration or could simply use a reminder of your reason for
coming to yoga. And after 40 minutes or so of yoga postures, class will end
with a Savasana- the most precious pose of class. It can act as a ‘reset’
button, calming the central nervous system and bringing the breath back to
normal. It's the part of the practice where we can truly allow ourselves to
simply Be. Many classes close with the teacher pressing their palms
together at their heart bowing their head and uttering the word, ‘Namaste’ -
‘the light within me honours and acknowledges the light within you’.
So, if you’ve been considering going to your first yoga class, wait no more!
And rather than being frustrated as a beginner, enjoy the experience. Allow
yourself to be a beginner. No one starts out excellent...where would the fun
be in that!
From my heart to yours