oga is known for its many mind and body benefits, but to some, the poses and culture can come off as a little intimidating. To set you up for success, we went to a few of the country’s top yoga teachers and asked them to share their top beginner tips. Here’s what to know before you go.
It’s normal to feel a little out of place when you try something out of your comfort zone, but ultimately, you should celebrate that you have the courage to, says Jane Bahneman, co-owner of Blue Nectar Yoga Studio in Falls Church, VA, and director of fitness and wellness operations for CENTERS, LLC. “During your first yoga class you might feel clumsy and awkward, but keep in mind that every yogi was in fact an awkward beginner at one point.”
Do some research and find a class with a description that aligns with your specific goals, shares Heidi Kristoffer, creator of CrossFlowX Yoga. “If you are seeking something a bit more athletic and want to sweat, look for words like ‘strong’ and ‘power flow’ in the class description. Alternatively, if you want to chill out, relax, and restore, find a description that matches those desires, such as a ‘gentle flow’ or ‘restorative’ class.”
Plan to arrive a few minutes before class so you can get situated and ask any questions you might have. Amanda Kriebel, registered yoga teacher and creator and founder of Awareness Physical Therapy suggests new students arrive to class at least 10 to 15 minutes prior to complete any paperwork, introduce themselves to the teacher, and ask if any props (such as a block or strap) will be needed during the session. “Stash your shoes and socks at the door, then pick a spot to set up in the middle or toward the back of the room where you can see the teacher and can also glance around at what other people are doing as you’re learning the poses.”
Pack your bag with a few basics like water, a small towel to wipe away sweat, and a yoga mat if you have one (though you can always call ahead and ask if they offer mats or mat rentals). If you decide yoga is something you want to do more of, you may want to buy a mat. “A good yoga mat does make a difference, so I encourage new yogis to invest in a quality one sooner rather than later,” Bahneman suggests.
Wearing apparel that allows you to move without restriction and be comfortable throughout class is a must, says Lisa Yee, yoga teacher, personal trainer, and owner of LisaFIT in San Diego, CA. “I constantly see beginners struggling to tuck in shirts when in inverted poses or trying to hold up low-rise bottoms when bending forward,” she says. “Instead, wear form-fitting fabric that stretches so that you can move with ease and the instructor can see your form.” Layers are great for when you warm up and cool down.
No, you don’t have to be super-bendy to do yoga. “Resist the temptation to judge your body based on what someone is doing next to you,” shares Jonathan Old-Rowe, San Diego-based yoga teacher and Lululemon ambassador. In fact, one of the many benefits that a regular yoga practice provides is increased flexibility, both physically and mentally.