By Tieja MacLaughlin
We’ve all been there, our first yoga class.
Are you nervous? Don’t be. Even the most confident of us were.
First things first though – congratulations on making it this far! It takes courage to try something new, and you should be proud of yourself for stepping outside of your comfort zone.
So what should you expect in your first class, and what do you need to know before stepping into a yoga studio?
This list should help you out.
What to Wear
You don’t need to be outfitted in the latest, high-end yoga brands to fit in. When it comes to your threads, just make sure they’re comfortable, light, and breathable. This is especially important if your class is in a heated studio. Also remember, yoga is practiced in bare feet – make sure you take your shoes off in the lobby!
What to Bring – Tools of the Trade
A mat is really the only essential item you’ll need. As you develop your practice, your mat becomes a sort-of extension of yourself. If you don’t want to invest in one right away, that’s OK, there are rentals available.
A mat towel and water bottle are other items you are encouraged to bring. Mat towels are slightly different than shower towels. They are lighter and more absorbent. You can also rent these.
Depending on the type of class you take, blocks, straps, blankets, or therapy balls may also be used. These items are free for you to use.
Yoga hack: If you’re in a pinch, a shower towel or even an extra layer of clothing can serve as a mat towel to give your sweaty hands some grip.
Staying hydrated is the most important take away here. A light snack and glass of water will prevent you from feeling faint, and also help your body keep up with the physical demands of your practice. Stay away from heavy carbs though – your stomach will thank you.
No, really. Get to class early. Yoga is all about escaping the chaos and tuning out the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and instructors take this very seriously. The instructor is always the final person to enter the studio, so simply put, don’t expect to sneak into a class late. It won’t happen. Arriving early also affords you prime real estate when selecting your mat space. 15 minutes should do the trick.
Yoga hack: Usually, beginners set up their mats towards the back of the room. But this isn’t mandatory, so don’t let it deter you from going front and center!
Photo: Tieja MacLaughlin
What if I Can’t Do a Pose?
Then don’t. Yoga is a personal journey, and the studio is a judgment-free zone. That’s the cool thing about it. If you don’t feel comfortable in a pose, simply hang out in child’s pose or downward dog. When you’re ready to continue, jump back in with the rest of the class.
Savasana, Namaste and other Yogi Lingo
You’ll likely hear words throughout your practice that you won’t necessarily understand. Don’t worry though, you don’t need to take a Rosetta Stone course to translate them.
Savasana is how you begin and end your practice – laying on your back on your mat with your eyes closed.
Namaste translates loosely to, “the light within me bows to the light within you.” It’s said aloud collectively at the end of practice, while sitting cross-legged with your palms pressed together at your chest.
Yoga hack: If you get stuck, just take a peak around the room and copy the poses you see others doing.
Talking in the studio is a major faux pas. There is also a strict no cellphone policy. So no, you won’t be able to snap a pic for Instagram. What you will leave with though, is clarity and a renewed sense of stillness.
I think you’ll find yoga to be a highly spiritual personal journey, and even a bit of an addiction.
Welcome to your first day of class.
Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Tieja MacLaughlin. Tieja is the Founder & Creative Director of TIEJA, a content marketing agency based in Toronto, ON. When she’s not busy managing her clients’ social media marketing efforts, she can be found on her mat at Moksha Yoga. As part of the Ambassador Program, Tieja gives back to the community by helping out at her local studio. Learn more about how yoga helps to inspire her creative approach to entrepreneurship at www.tiejamac.com.