When you are doing something for the first time, or when something is new to you, being intimidated is a normal feeling. It is understandable to feel anxious — the important thing is, you are finding ways to overcome your anxiety.
Yoga has gained so much popularity these days and many have heard of its benefits. However, not everyone has mustered up the courage to finally sign up for a yoga class. If you are one of those people and you have not yet tried your first yoga session, now is the time to consider doing it. But perhaps there are several questions going on in your brain.
“What if it’s too difficult?”
“What if I get injured?”
“What if I will make a fool of myself in front of others?”
“What if I couldn’t do the poses properly?”
And the list of your what-ifs goes on and on…
Now, before you torture yourself with such worries that should never be your concern in the first place, always remember that everyone in a yoga class, including the yoga teacher, has begun their practice as a first-timer sometime in their past. Mind you, there will even be yoga students in the class who are newbies too!
To help you prepare for that first personal and actual yoga experience, we have narrowed down seven useful must-knows for every first-time yoga student, which will surely come in handy.
Here are seven things you should know before going to your first yoga class:
1. It’s OK If You are Not Physically Flexible or Strong
Flexibility and strength are two of the many things that you will gain from a consistent and regular yoga practice. They are definitely not a pre-requisite! So don’t make a fuss if you cannot do a full split or even a half split. To be honest, no one really cares whether or not you can stand on your head right away or you can do a full-circle backbend.
2. No One is Really Looking at Your Armpits or Toenails
One of the most common (and absurd) excuses why some of people are putting off yoga is because, according to them, they have dark underarms. Others are hesitant because they have not gotten a pedicure yet.
It’s sweet that you are concerned about how your armpits and toenails would affect the class — but to tell you honestly, no one will ever get distracted by dark and hairy underarms or chipped-off toenail polish. Just make sure that you practice proper hygiene because having smelly pits or feet is another story.
3. It’s OK to Stop and Rest if You are Tired
Yoga is not a marathon. It is not a competition. Yoga is a journey towards yourself — as deep as it may sound, it’s just as simple as that. It is your body. You know your limits.
If you get tired and you think you need a break, just feel free to stop and rest. Don’t be shy. Get back up again to join the flow whenever you are ready. And never think you will make a fool of yourself here, because as a matter of fact, no one would mind.
4. It’s Rude to Talk with Your practice-Mates During a Class
Whether it’s yoga-related or not, talking with your classmate while the yoga class is ongoing is actually rude. It can cause distraction to others, more than your armpits could. And more so, it shows disrespect to the teacher. If you have concern about a certain yoga pose, don’t hesitate to discreetly get the attention of your teacher for assistance.
5. It’s rude to use your phone during a class
Just like chatting with you mat-mates, it’s also considered rude to use your phone or take phone calls during a class. Ideally, mobile devices should be switched off while you are doing your yoga practice to keep the solemnity of the practice for you and for everyone else.
However, if you really need to take that phone call, try to excuse yourself discreetly and get out of the practice room before you answer your phone. Keep your voice soft especially if you are still inside the vicinity where people inside the practice room may still hear you.
6. Your Teacher Would Be Happy to Help
It is understandable for first-timers to not want the attention and pretend they are invisible. But if you have questions, do not be embarrassed to ask the teacher. Yoga teachers love to assist their students more than anything else.
But they want their students to ask for help, because well, they are not mind-readers. If you think your questions can wait until after the class, that’s still OK. Just don’t be shy to ask.
7. Stay Until the Class is Finished
And I mean, really finished. Do not walk out, even if you think it is too difficult for you. If you think it’s too difficult, ask the teacher for help (see number 5) or take a rest (see number 3) — but never, ever roll your mat in the middle of the practice and leave — unless you really intend to all-out rude. This also means that you have to stay until after Savasana (corpse pose).
Yoga is a life-long journey.
Yoga is not just a first-try or one-time adventure. You have to keep on coming back, try different kinds of classes, and/or join different teachers to finally see and understand why you should make it a part of your lifestyle. Only with constant practice will you enjoy the many benefits of yoga and find its true bliss.
May you have a meaningful yoga journey.
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Hello, I have a more personal question about yoga. I’m not afraid to attend my first class but I’m afraid *to go back*.
Years ago I started with Yin yoga, then switched for a few years to Kundalini to arrive back in Yin yoga class. I loved it and everything was hunky dory.
I became ill due to burnout, went to yin yoga. The last time (1.5 years ago) was so difficult for me. It was a confrontation with my failing mind and body. I wanted to ugly cry and scream during the lesson. I was in a panick, couldn’t do it anymore. I felt extremely sad to lose that aspect of my life but I stayed the whole lesson to run out after the end. It was draining.
Now I’m afraid to start again. I’m so afraid that my body and mind will fail me again. What will I do when I feel the urge to cry again? When I’m that sad I can sound like a whale I think. Shall I stay in the class or go outside? There is nowhere to run or to hide I think. Would you start with yin again or are there maybe other forms of yoga more suitable for people recovering from burn out and depression? Thank you in advance for your answer 🙂
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Hi there! Thanks for sharing your experience and current ordeal. Having the “difficulty” to go back is one of the most common concerns many people experience when they stopped doing something for quite a while. Based on your story, I guess you are having an emotional setup about yoga because you expect something from yourself which your body cannot “yet” deliver. My advice would be to start again as a beginner. Like treat this as your first yoga class, as if you are on a clean slate when you do not know any poses yet. So stumbling and falling and getting confused about what to do are actually “normal”. As for the type of yoga class that you should go to, there is no right or wrong answer. The best option is to find a beginner-friendly teacher who can help guide you back to your practice without pressure. If and when during the class you feel drained again, just stop and rest on a child’s pose or a seated meditation position. Having the urge to cry is normal especially if you are expecting something out of yourself. So I guess the best thing to do really is to condition your mind when you step into that yoga class again that ” you are a beginner” and you will take ot slow according to your own pace, and won’t pressure yourself to push too much when your mind and body says “stop”. If you can come early for the class to talk with the teacher about your current situation and emotional ordeal about yoga before the session begins, that’s another good option too so your teacher will know how to modify her flow to make it more enjoyable for you and for everyone else.
Yin yoga usually is a good choice, you can also do restorative yoga. Slow vinyasas for super beginners are also a good option. Just make sure to choose a beginners class and show up with the mind and a heart of a beginner. I pray that you will somehow find your way back to your yoga journey. ❤ Namaste 🙏
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Erratum: *emotional setback*
Thank you so so much for your thoughtful answer! It didn’t occur to me to start with a clean slate, I’m still expecting to magically be at the level I was and that is holding me back because it means failure.
When my mind can look at yoga from the beginners point of view I can find the fun again, I don’t mind falling over, I love to laugh with myself.
I will explain it to the teacher, maybe it is the same person it was before and I trust her. We don’t have levels in our school, it is always open to everybody. The hatha yoga is more quicker and feels more advanced, so I won’t start with that one. So I guess I start with yin again because I really like that.
Again thank you very much for your kind words and maybe I’ll write about my beginner steps into yoga in the near future 🙂
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