So here you are, you’ve booked your first Yoga class. You’re not sure what to expect, and how to enjoy it? Or maybe you’ve been to a few Yoga classes and want to know how to make the most of it? Here are some tips.
1 – What to wear?
In order for the teacher to correct you, you need to wear close-fitted clothes. They need to properly see the muscles of you arms, legs and torso. But the most important is for you to feel comfortable !
Oversized-tops should be avoided, because once in downward dog, or any inversion pose, your top will fall on your face. And then you’ll have to tuck it in !
Stretchy fabrics are a must, to allow for a great range of movement.
Dress in layers, so that you can adapt to the temperature of your body. It will vary greatly from the warm-up to the cool down. Especially in the winter, bring a sweater and socks to cover yourself in Shavasana (the relaxation).
2 – Can I eat before class?
Normally, Yoga is practiced on an empty stomach, early in the morning. But when your class is in the evening, the best is not to eat at least 2 hours before. If you’re really hungry, a banana should do, at least 45 min before class. But everyone is different and it is up to you to see what you can deal with.
In the twisting postures, the internal organs are sollicited a great deal. It is as if we “spun” the digestive system ! Also, it is never a good idea to have a full stomach when upside down. Just sayin’.
3 – I feel uncomfortable facing a class full of other students. How can I gain self-confidence?
During a Yoga class, the other people should be as focused as you are on your practice. Maybe you’ll feel uncomfortable for the first 5 minutes. But it will pass once you start to focus (see point number 6).
Also, Yoga is first of all a mental exercise. The exercise of not letting yourself be disturbed by external things, such as noise, looks, smells, or… thoughts.
Don’t compare yourself to other people. Every body is different, each skeleton has different proportions, each joint has genetically a different range of motion. Be aware that being stiff is a gift : you will learn to progress gradually, safely. You will learn acceptation and patience. And your rewards will be even greater than being able to do a full split in 5 minutes. Yoga is not about being flexible.
4- How to have the most benefits from the postures?
First of all, you must tell the teacher prior to the class, if you have any physical or mental limitation, if you’re pregnant, or if you’re on your period. This will ensure that the sequence will be adapted to your physical abilities and restrictions, and make sure you don’t harm yourself.
Another tip : follow the instructions. It may sound stupid, but especially if you’ve practiced online, or with another teacher, you might want to wing your own interpretation of the instructions. Please don’t : Every teacher is firstly a practicioner, which means she or he will have their own means of entering into a posture, breathing, etc. So to make the most of what your teacher is offering, surrender and follow their cues !
Listen to your body ! You are the only person to be able to feel it. The teacher doesn’t know about your sensations. Love your body, respect it, and don’t force yourself into any posture. Work gently and gradually.
Another very important point : breathe ! At first, you may hold your breath because you’ll be overwhelmed with all the instructions. So remember to take the habit to breathe correctly since the beginning. Your teacher should guide you through that.
5 – Is the teacher going to touch me?
It is very likely that your teacher will come to your mat for hands-on adjustments (it is my case!). It means that beyond the verbal cues, they will gently press or pull certain parts of your body such as your arms, hips, or feet. Don’t take the adjustments as a punishment, on the opposite, they are a great chance to progress in a posture, it means that the teacher thinks you can go further !
If you don’t wish to be adjusted/touched at all, tell your teacher before the class. Most teachers are understanding, and you can still change your mind after a few classes if you feel more confident.
6 – How to focus?
It is a good idea to turn off your phone 15 minutes before class and refrain from looking at your social media accounts or e-mails. You can make up a little ritual, like putting on your yoga clothes, closing your eyes and breathing deeply.
Try to have some free time after the class, so you don’t have to worry about what’s next.
Breathing is also crucial here : whenever you get distracted, focus on breathing very slowly, very deeply. You can count in your head if that helps : 5 counts for inhaling, 5 counts for exhaling.