Thinking about giving yoga a try? Awesome! This workout allows for relaxation and a deepening of mind body connection. But, it can be daunting to walk into a room of picture-perfect, flexible yogis if you’re not sure where to start. I have been practicing yoga for years, inspired by my grandmother who has been practicing since the sixties, so here are some things I have found helpful to be confident in your mind and body on your yoga mat.
I spoke with my yoga instructor, Kara Billingham, of The Yoga House Hampton Bays to get the full scoop on how to be prepared for your first class. Her studio is a place of peace and laughter.
Be prepared with tools for success. Before your class you might want to get your own yoga mat, but most studios will have mats available. I have my own since I sometimes practice at home. Amazon is a great place to look for any supplies you might need, like this mat with a carrying strap. Have a yoga mat to lie on, plus yoga blocks for support, a strap for added length and a towel or blanket to put under your knees. There is no shame in utilizing these tools to be strong in your practice. Bring water with you, especially if the studio doesn’t have air conditioning.
Pick out an outfit that is comfortable and makes you feel confident. Yoga is a workout that involves a lot of movement, including sometimes bending over and letting your head hang down. Ask yourself if it will disrupt your practice to have your hair or shirt hanging in your face. I practice in leggings, a sports bra and a tight tee shirt or tank top so my clothing stays in place, with my hair pulled back either in a braid or a ponytail. If you want something to look at when you bend over, I recommend painting your toenails a fun color.
Get to class about 10 minutes early. When you get there, find a spot for your mat where you feel comfortable. Then go introduce yourself to the instructor, and mention this is your first class. Yoga instructors are some of the coolest people ever and will be there to give you whatever support you need. Then sit on your mat and gently stretch before class starts, loosening up your muscles will give you more confidence in your practice.
Billingham pointed out to mention any surgery or physical issues to your instructor before class starts. And if you need a second or a sip of water, don’t worry about stopping for a second to sit down, your body is strong even if you need a break.
Don’t worry about clearing your mind. The instructor might mention clearing your mind, but don’t feel forced to conjure up a brain full of white emptiness. This is a time for you to connect with yourself, however you feel most comfortable. This could be a time to organize your thoughts, think deeply about things that bring you gratitude or practice affirmations. Feel free to think to yourself “I am strong” throughout your practice.
“Think about something positive about yourself,” Billingham said. “I don’t think we are positive enough about ourselves,” Billingham said.
Yoga instructors might offer a touch to help guide you through poses, if you are uncomfortable being touched, mention this to the instructor at the beginning of class. Additionally, the instructor might offer a shoulder press or a neck rub at the end of class during deep meditation time, called savasana. This can be a relaxing moment if you are comfortable. If not, tell the instructor before class, or follow their instructions to silently signal that you are okay without being touched.
Remember your own strength throughout the practice and enjoy your first class!
Featured image via @julia.elizabeth2. Design by Her Campus Media.