Yoga Basics

Preparing for Your First Yoga Class

If you’ve never tried yoga before, you probably have a lot of questions, and maybe some doubts. Is all yoga the same? What if I’m not in good shape? What if I’m not flexible? Do men do yoga? What are the health benefits? Do I have to chant? Is yoga just for hippies? Why should I do yoga?

Don’t let your questions scare you away!  Before anyone writes off yoga for any reason, know that there are multiple variations to try.  We’ve provided descriptions of various forms of yoga to help you get started!  (These descriptions can be found in the column to the right.) 

You can practice yoga no matter what shape you’re in or range of flexibility you have, and it’s loved by all walks of life—business men, pregnant women, children, hippies, football players, computer geeks, bar flies, whoever!  We can promise you that with each class—even at the same studio with the same teacher at the same time of day—your experience will be unique. The trick is finding the right classes for you.  Once you do, the more you’ll go—and your practice will evolve.

For your very first class, here are some things to consider:

1)      Confirm the class is okay for beginners.  We recommend calling ahead or reading the website and description of the class you plan to attend.  Most studios have plenty of classes for beginners.  If you’re unsure which class is best for you, don’t be afraid to ask! (Free/Community class list be found in the column to the right.)

2)      Don’t eat at least 90 minutes before class. Yoga is best to practice on an empty stomach- mostly because it’s flat out uncomfortable to have food in your system as you’re moving and twisting so much. Sometimes a light snack or breakfast is okay though.

3)      Bring a yoga mat, towel, and water.  Many studios sell and rent yoga mats.  While you’re on the phone, ask about this too! Mats range from $10-$100, so do your homework and find one that fits your budget and style.  It’s important to drink water before, during, and after your class. This will flush out toxins and keep you hydrated.

4)      Wear comfortable clothes.  You don’t want to be distracted by what you’re wearing. Pick fabrics that breath and stretch. Traditionally, yoga is practiced barefoot, so you don’t need to worry about shoes.

5)      Bring an open mind!  Don’t arrive with specific expectations. Relax and enjoy the experience. Be open to all possibilities and see where the practice takes you.

6)      Breathe!  This is your fuel for the practice.  The harder the pose, the more you need to focus on breathing. Before class, ask your instructor about Ojai breathing, a technique used to build and keep energy in your body.

7)      No judgments.  The beauty of yoga is that everyone is at a different place in their practice. What other people do on their mats has nothing to do with you. The person you’re next to could be new, or they may be a yoga instructor, so don’t compare yourself to anyone. And when your mind starts to make judgments, bring your focus back to your breath, your core strength, and any intentions you set at the start of the class.