The hardest part of my first public yoga class was leaving the house...
If you have decided to try some yoga and have located a class or two to try out that’s great, but what can you expect, are you apprehensive, not sure what you are letting yourself in for? All normal emotions which we all go through, the hardest part I tell my students is getting leaving the house.
The first yoga class is a time of discovery. You'll discover that not every yoga practitioner is a highly committed, eco-conscious vegetarian or that the media representation of this wonderful activity is just not so. You’ll also work out, fairly quickly that the teacher is genuinely interested in you and will go out of their way to make sure you are comfortable through the class.
Yogis, (and you’re one now), are a friendly bunch and come in all shapes and sizes, it is truly a diverse group. The dynamics of each yoga class and each studio vary but all should be welcoming and inclusive, especially nonjudgmental. Everyone in the class is an equal in the eyes of the teacher so stop worrying about your lack of knowledge or inability to touch your toes, it simply doesn't matter.
The teacher will probably point out that this is your class and they are there to facilitate, you go at your own pace and within your capabilities, moving with ‘the body you have today.’
You will be grounded into the practice, bringing your attention inwards and you start to really work with the breath and body, letting the thoughts and issues you have been carrying all day drift away. A gentle warm up of the muscles from the outside in and then building up warmth in the body to help move fluidly from one posture to the next, truly magical.
Yoga is an individual practice and everyone is different and at a different part of their learning. Even yoga teachers aren't perfect at every pose. We all have our physical limitations and part of yoga is learning to respect our body, be kind to it and don't push it further than it wants to go. The body will open into poses when it is ready, so be patient during the early stages of your practice.
There will be some breath practice which is fundamental to yoga and the teacher will explain and clarify the steps, and we end up in relaxation, where our bodies achieve a state of total release and our minds are calm.
On a practical note, what do you take to a class? Comfortable loose clothing, some water is a good idea, you may wish to take a small towel and if hygiene concerns you, your own mat and some warmer clothes for relaxation.
It’s not essential to buy your own mat for the first class, most teachers will have a supply of decent mats; this decision comes down to personal preference. Some classes may not disinfect and update their mats as regularly as perhaps they should and practicing on a stale smelling mat is not the most pleasant experience. On an environmental note, if this is your first ever experience of yoga it is probably best not to buy your own mat until you know that the practice is for you.
The content of your class will vary depending on the style your chosen studio follows. Generally speaking though, beginners' classes focus on the postures or ‘asana’ and tend not to include any advanced breathing techniques or chanting.
If you approach your first class with an open mind, a spirit of adventure and an understanding that yoga is not a competitive sport then you will be fine. Congratulations on embarking on the first stage of your yoga journey, and enjoy!
If there are any lingering doubts, please drop me a line and I will do my best put your mind at rest.