Have you been watching fellow gym-goers head to yoga class, colorful mats rolled under their arms, and wondered what it was all about? You’ve come to the right place. Yoga is an ancient meditative practice that has been helping people around the globe for thousands of years. If you’re feeling a little nervous about starting yoga, that’s completely understandable. Beginning anything new can be a little uncomfortable. Don’t worry. In this article about yoga for beginners, you’ll learn what to expect during a typical yoga class. You’ll also learn how to prepare for your first yoga class.
Take a deep breath, maybe chant an ohm to release your nerves, and let’s learn about yoga classes for beginners.
What Is Yoga?
Yoga is a practice that focuses on connecting the mind, body, and soul through the use of poses, breathing techniques, and meditation. It is thought to have been originally practiced in ancient India but is now popular around the world. A 2017 national survey found over 14% of adults said they practiced yoga in the past year.
Though many different forms of yoga exist, the overall idea is to promote physical and mental wellbeing. Many practitioners also find spiritual meaning through yoga practice. Yoga is a great entry into movement and fitness, as well as an excellent option for active recovery after a tough workout. Almost anyone can benefit from yoga. When you take your first yoga class, don’t be surprised to see people of all ages, sizes, and backgrounds on the mats around you.
What to Expect When Starting Yoga
You may begin with chanting
Many yoga teachers begin their class by chanting ohm (which sounds like it looks). This chanting may catch yoga newbies off guard, but there’s a purpose to it. The chanting helps set the mood of the class and unites the students and instructor. It can also work as an audio cue for you to leave your stress and worries at the door as you transition your focus to the upcoming practice.
If you feel a little self-conscious joining in the chant, you can stay quiet and listen. However, if you want to push yourself, chant along with the class. It feels good.
You’ll work on breathing techniques
Breathing is a huge component of yoga. That might sound obvious. After all, isn’t breathing essential for all activities? Yoga, however, takes breathing, or pranayama, to a new level. Your instructor might begin class with breathing exercises to help you focus on your breath. The instructor may also encourage you to work on “belly breathing” or breathing down into your belly instead of just in your chest.
You’ll move through a series of poses
After a few minutes of warm-up, your instructor will typically begin guiding students through a series of poses. Your job is to follow along and perform the poses based on your ability. If you’ve signed up for a yoga workout for beginners, this will be a beginner yoga routine that won’t require expert levels of balance, flexibility, and coordination. If the poses become too challenging for you, most instructors will provide modifications. You can also always return to a simple pose, like child’s pose, to rest before the next pose.
Your instructor may adjust your form
It is nearly impossible for first time yoga students to perform new poses perfectly. In fact, many long-time yoga students still need pointers and corrections. Your instructor may showcase a pose and then move around the room correcting students. This often includes the instructor placing their hands on your body and repositioning you. If you do not wish to be touched, let the instructor know. You don’t need to explain yourself. Yoga is all about creating an experience that is comfortable for you.
You may work with yoga props
When you first walk into a yoga class, you may notice stacks of blocks in the corner, along with straps, and blankets. Don’t let all this yoga equipment freak you out. These yoga props are designed to assist you in your practice. They often help beginners achieve poses that they can’t do on their own. They also work great for students suffering from arthritis, tight muscles, and injuries.
Your instructor should let students know if they need any props before the class starts. Alternatively, your instructor may bring a piece of yoga equipment to you if they think it will help you with a pose.
You may feel a little overwhelmed
Putting your body through poses you’ve never attempted before while trying to remember to breathe through your belly while your instructor calls out a Sanskrit name for the next pose can all feel a little overwhelming. This feeling is completely normal!
Think back to a time you started something you are now very good at – cooking, driving, a sport in high school. You probably felt overwhelmed and awkward then, but by sticking to it you were able to progress and gain a level of expertise. The same can be true of yoga.
You may feel uncomfortable
Yoga may not be as active as a Bodypump™ or Zumba® class, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t challenging. Even yoga workouts for beginners will require flexibility, coordination, and balance. You’ll also need to use a wide variety of muscles to hold and stabilize your body in different poses. Get ready for discomfort as you stretch, bend, and balance in ways you are not used to. Discomfort is normal, but pain is not. If any pose is painful, either switch to a modification or move out of the pose.
Your class will end with a savasana
Almost every yoga class ends with savasana or corpse pose. As the name implies, students will lay on their backs and rest at the end of the class. Sometimes, the teacher will dim the lights. Many first-time yoga students don’t appreciate the purpose of savasana. Some may even try to sneak out early during the savasana. Try to stick with it.
This is your opportunity to fully absorb what you’ve experienced in the class. All of the poses have led you here to this meditative moment. Enjoy this deeply relaxing experience that some find highly spiritual.
Yoga Tips for Beginners
Tip #1: Sign up for yoga classes for beginners
When you start looking into yoga for beginners, you’ll soon realize there are lots of yoga classes to choose from. Bikram yoga? Ashtanga yoga? How do you choose the right one?
If possible, choose a class designed for beginners. Many yoga studios offer beginner classes for new students. If you belong to a gym with a range of classes, look for Hatha yoga, which is a general yoga class. You may also want to look for classes with words like “gentle” or “flow” in the title. EōS Fitness offers several yoga classes that would be appropriate for beginners, including:
- EōS Yoga
- Candlelight Yoga
- Gentle Yoga
- Restorative Yoga
- Meditative Yoga
Tip #2: Arrive early
If you’re feeling nervous about starting yoga, head to class early. This will give you time to pick a spot, spread out your mat, and get comfortable before the class begins.
Tip #3: Eat a small snack
You don’t want to eat a full meal before your yoga class, but you may also not want to go to class on an empty stomach. Many yoga students prefer to eat a small or medium snack about an hour before class. Consider eating a piece of fruit with peanut butter, a small salad, or a handful of nuts.
Tip #4: Wear appropriate clothing
You don’t need to strut into class in a high-priced yoga outfit (though you can if you’d like) in order to “look the part.” Comfort and functionality are always more important than style.
First, wear clothing that will allow you to move and stretch — in other words, jeans are not a good option here. You may also want to ditch baggy clothing, especially baggy shirts that may hang open during downward dog. Fitted, stretchy clothing often works best.
Tip #5: Mats not necessary
While many students may bring their own mats to class, any yoga class will provide mats for new students. Before buying your own mat, give a few yoga classes a try. If yoga is something you think you’ll stick with, then you may want to start investigating the best yoga mat for beginners. Here’s what you need to know about how to pick your yoga mat.
Tip #6: Resist compare-itis
It’s easy to compare yourself to the student next to you who executes a perfect tripod headstand or to feel like everyone is watching you as you wobble through tree pose. Here’s the truth. No one is paying any attention to you.
Yoga is an intensely personal journey, and each student is working through their own practice. Yoga is not a competition, and no one will win a gold medal for best poses at the end of class. Instead, practice to your best ability and never be afraid to modify poses or to use yoga equipment, like blocks, to help you achieve a pose. Even the best yogis in the world were beginners just like you.
Tip #7: Embrace the beginner’s mind
As a beginner, you have a rare opportunity to observe and embrace shoshin, the beginner’s mind, which means to approach a new experience with an eager and open perspective. Even advanced yogis want to capture shoshin, and you get to experience it effortlessly. Be proud of your beginner’s mind and use it to develop your own unique outlook on your yoga experience.
Choose EōS Fitness
Looking for a place to practice yoga for beginners? EōS Fitness offers a range of yoga classes, including classes that are open to beginners. Along with trying beginner yoga routines, you can also sign up for lots of different group fitness classes to vary your fitness routine. Find an EōS Fitness near you.