“This isn’t intimidating,” said no one even when walking in to their very first yoga class. If attending your first yoga class makes you a bit nervous, you have plenty of company.
A cute guy I was romantically interested in invited me to my very first yoga class, he had no idea I’d never practiced yoga. He was a seasoned yogi and I was too embarrassed + vain to let let him know I was a newbie; I needed him to think I was *cool*. I purchased a cheap yoga mat from Target just moments before class, hoping he wouldn’t notice that it was brand new and I walked in to the studio with a forged confidence.
Although my first yoga class experience may have frazzled me, I realize that my fears + insecurities would have perpetually kept me out of yoga studios.
Yoga mesmerized me & I quickly found comfort in the practice. I am optimistic that with a bit of preparation + knowing what to expect, you can quickly find comfort & confidence in your yoga practice as well. Use this post to gain insight and as an affirmation to attend your first class.
YOGA IS NOT WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE ON SOCIAL MEDIA. Those perfect Instagram poses? They’re not yoga. Instagram is increasingly becoming a stream of unreality, a showcase of the perception of what yoga is and of what yoga teachers teach today. Posing for the perfect photo wasn’t a thing I learned in my yoga teacher training. I learned asana, philosophy, yamas, niyamas, breathwork, cultural appropriation, meditation, anatomy – I assume most other teachers had similar experiences in their training. Among all these lessons, we were taught about non-attachment, contentment with what we have, and living the most genuine life possible. To see photos of genuine yoga practice, check out this book. I’m excited for you to explore what your yoga practice looks like.
YOGA IS FOR EVERYONE REGARDLESS OF FLEXIBILITY, FITNESS LEVEL, OR BACKGROUND. According to the Yoga Sutras, the foundational text of yoga, the only criteria for being a yogi is the ability to “direct and focus mental activity.” You don’t need to visit India or join a yoga studio to be a yogi. You don’t need to chant in an ashram or buy an expensive yoga mat. You don’t need to be remotely flexible or able to stand on your head. Simply quiet your mind and be present in what you are doing. Ta-dah! You are a yogi.
THE YOGA STUDIO IS A JUDGEMENT-FREE ZONE. It should be a safe & welcoming space for all. The yoga studio is not a place to compare yourself to other people and it is not a place to compare yourself against the expectations you have for yourself. It’s just about being where you are in the now.
IT PAYS TO ARRIVE EARLY. Arriving early to class allows you to prepare for class + choose your spot comfortably. It gives you a better opportunity to introduce yourself to the teacher and ask them to guide you through what you need for your first class. There is nothing shameful in sharing that you are new.
MOST YOGA STUDIOS PROVIDE MATS + PROPS. If you don’t own a yoga mat, don’t fret – there is no shame in using yoga studio mats + it gives you an opportunity to try before you buy. I use studio mats when I travel. If you are ready to buy your own mat, this one is my favorite – it lasts a lifetime. I’ve never visited a yoga studio that didn’t provide props needed for class. Props could include blankets, bolsters, blocks, & straps. The teacher should always tell you which props are necessary for class – if it’s not clear, don’t hesitate to ask. I always encourage the use of props in my classes, and I use them often myself – they are extremely useful for everyone no matter their level or experience.
YOGA IS A PRACTICE, NOT A PERFECTION. I’ve been practicing yoga for 10+ years and there are still poses I can’t do. Our bodies + capabilities are all so different so what I can do, you may not be able to do & vice versa. I’ve had practices where I felt strong and flexible but my breath was short & shallow. I’ve also experienced times where my breath was deep & energizing but physically I felt challenged. My practice changes from day-to-day and yours will too. You shouldn’t be judged on how well you can do a pose, and you shouldn’t judge yourself.
YOGA IS YOUR PRACTICE, THE TEACHER IS SIMPLY THERE TO GUIDE YOU. A commendable teacher will provide the class with instructions for how to modify poses and it’s completely acceptable to skip a pose if it doesn’t work for you. You can always rest in child’s pose (shown above) any time you need a break, for as long as you’d like.
TEACHERS MAY OFFER HANDS-ON ADJUSTMENTS & MODIFICATIONS. A hands-on adjustment can be an incredible – and rather transformational – gift during a yoga practice. It can help you access a pose that you may not otherwise be able to. If a teacher offers you a hands-on adjustment, take it as an advantage or a benefit and know that the teacher isn’t necessarily singling you out because you’re new – those of us who are seasoned crave + receive the hands-on adjustments and recognize them as an enhancement to our practice. Your teacher should offer an opportunity to opt out of hands-on adjustments at the begin of class.
CHANTING IS OPTIONAL. All classes & teachers vary, but there may be some Sanskrit chanting at the start or at the end of your yoga class. If you’re not comfortable with this, don’t feel pressure to take part – simply relax, breathe, and enjoy the vibrational energy from others.
Yoga is an incredible way to nourish your mind, body, and spirit. It can help you conquer your fears and overcome your ego—likely the very things that have held you back from giving it a try. Be patient with yourself as you summon up the courage to try a yoga class & get comfortable with the practice. Offer yourself ease + grace.
If you are in the Denver area and would like to join one of my yoga classes, I welcome you! Visit this page to learn more about my all-levels classes + reserve a spot.