Practical Tips for First Timer Yoga Class

Yoga is something that I have truly fallen in love with over the past couple of years.  I think that it has so many benefits – mental, physical, social- that if you have any interest in trying it, I absolutely urge you to go for it!  Below are some practical guidelines so when you take your first class, you feel prepared and stress free.

Hair Choice

I find having a pony tail can be uncomfortable when lying down, so my favorite things to do are a variety of braids.  French braids, pigtail braids, halo braids.  These all evenly distribute the hair so nothing is pulling and when you are on the matt, you dont have a pony tail poking you in the back of your head.  I see some people pracicing with their hair down which I have only been able to manage when my hair was super short with a soft headband.

Here is a great tutorial that I first used for a halo braid which is now my go to hairstyle for yoga and running.

Halo Braid

Clothing Choice

Make sure its something you are comfortable in.  Very often I have worn an outfit that looked very “yoga chic” but then in the middle of class realized it was not going well. Either it was too low cut and I felt exposed, the leggings didn’t stretch right or sat too low or my top was too loose and exposed my stomach during downward dog or inversions.  Whatever you decide to wear, play around at home first. Bend over, twist, stretch. Make sure its something that you are comfortable with so that way you dont have any wardropte malfunctions to distract you. Generally leggings and a fitted tank are my go to choices. Don’t feel pressure to buy expensive brands, anything you have that fits well will do the trick.

Get there Early

Generally, its polite to arrive at a class about 15 minutes early.  If you are brand new, it may be extra helpful to get there ahead of time.  This way you can check in and get settled, which can make the whole experience more relaxing.  Additionally, you can meet the instructor and disclose that you are new and if you have any injuries or concerns.  In my experience, teachers are very welcoming and they can make really helpful suggestions prior to and during class to accomodate your skill level and needs.

Avoid the Competitive Spirit

For some, including myself, the urge to compete with others during a class can be very strong. You may look around at other students nailing a pose or taking it to a full, gravity defying, super flexible expression.  That is their practice. Focus on your own, and you will be better for it.  This is something that I have worked on continously.  By scoping out others, it takes you out of alignement,  your focus is split and you are not paying attention to your body. This can cause you to lose balance, not get the most out of the pose or potentially hurt yourself.

Angry yoga

Something to keep in mind is you dont know everyone elses story. Even in a beginners class, you may have people who have been practicing for years. There may be other teachers observing this instructor.  This could be someone who just wants to brush up on the basics or someone new to yoga but did dance for 15 years.  Everyone is going to be a different level and that isn’t a bad thing. Each student starts somewhere.

Listen to the Instructor

I mean, duh. But really listen.  There are often a lot of funny sounding metaphors that really work  like”knit your ribs”.  Do you best to visualize what they saying and apply it as best you can.  Also be open to their modifiations.  During class you may be working on a pose that has 3 modifications – to make it easier or harder.  Your instructor will likely emphasize which is intended for whom and encourage you to do what feels right for you. Going back to the competative nauture, dont feel pressured to pick the hardest option.  Do what feels right which may be a gentle stretch or bit of a challenge, but should not feel overwhelming.  This way you can start to understand the foundation of a pose, which will make it easier to advance later on, once you master the basics.

Pick the Right Class

If you are going to a studio, a community class or a session at your gym, try and find out what the style is.  There are beginner classes, power classes, heated classes and more.  If your nervous, try a beginner or foundations class to ease into it.  You can usually chat with the instructor or another employee about what to expect and which class would be the right fit for you.  Studios also may have descriptions on their website. Below is a sample from the studio I attend:

Just Go For It!

Yoga is great and I love it! It has enriched so many peoples lives, whether they were looking for a good work out, a way to connect with their body, or wanted to get involved with a vibrant social scene of wonderful people.  I know it can be daunting.  Sometimes beautiful photos of yogis in amazing poses can come off as intimidating rather than inspirational.  But don’t let that stop you!  You owe it to yourself to give it a try and I hope the above tips help you feel more confident venturing into your first class.


What was your first yoga class experience?