So you wish to embark upon a journey of personal development, both physically and mentally, through the practice of yoga. This is a great decision, and one that you will be thankful of, however there are a few things you should know before you get started, to help ensure you get the most from your first yoga experience.
Wear Comfortable Clothes
You are going to be bending and stretching into many different positions, so it is important that you wear clothing that allows for comfortable movement. This means jeans and restrictive clothing are a no-go. Also bear in mind that you will be moving your body into different positions, so choose clothing that will protect your modesty as you move about.
Shoes are not worn during yoga classes, and often socks are removed as well to help ensure that you can get suitable grip on your mat during specific postures. So make sure your feet are nice and clean to save any foot odour embarrassment!
Practice On An Empty Stomach
Okay, it doesn’t have to be completely empty; however you should leave at least 1.5 – 2 hours from your last meal before you practice. Many yoga postures bend and manipulate your abdomen, and though this works to strengthen and stimulate your digestive system, it may also force the food to come back up, or push it through without being properly digested.
For your first class you will need to meet the teacher and most likely be required to fill out a form. This will usually be a health questionnaire to inform your teacher of any health considerations that will need to be made. So give yourself at least an extra 10 minutes at the beginning of your class. This way you will still have time to settle and prepare along with everyone else.
Leave Your Ego At Home
Yoga is not about the end result, it is about your personal journey that takes you there. Unlike some other forms of exercise yoga is non-competitive, so try not to worry about what the person next to you can or can’t do, you are not there for them, you are there for yourself.
We all have our own strengths and weaknesses, so try to listen to your own body and work with what feels right for you. If you find a practice is too difficult, then you can either indicate to the teacher who might give you an alternative, or come into the ‘child pose’ or a lying down position until the class moves into the next posture.
Don’t Forget To Breathe
Breathing is an important aspect of yoga poses, and sometimes your teacher will instruct a specific way of breathing through the movement of a particular posture. If you find this breathing a little confusing, or you notice you are holding your breath, just relax your breath and focus instead on the movements. Once you become more comfortable and familiar with a posture then the breathing will become more natural.
Listen, Reflect And Ask For Guidance
Listen to your teacher; they are there to guide you, so raise your hand if you are uncertain. Your teacher will often give variations or modifications that can be very useful especially to a beginner. Remember there is nothing wrong with being a beginner, so don’t be afraid to approach your teacher after the class and ask any questions you may have regarding the class.
Pack An Open Mind
If you have never practiced yoga before, then chances are you are going to be participating in some new and interesting poses. Try to remain open minded to these as there are a plethora of benefits involved in each and every practice, and you never know, you may just find you love it!
Chanting is often used at the beginning and end of a yoga class, and this can be a little daunting if you were not expecting it. Just remember that you are under no obligation to join in, if you are not sure then just sit back, close your eyes, and experience the vibrations. If you feel as though you want to give it a go, then join in! Again you might just find that this is something you will grow to enjoy.