Want to try a yoga class? Top 5 tips for first timers

Want to try a yoga class? Top 5 tips for first timers

Anyone can 'do' yoga - really? Yes, really! I truly believe that there is something out there for everyone depending on their personal needs. As a teacher, I often get calls from nervous first-timers who say they'd like to try yoga but say they 'can't do it', or are worried that they are too 'stiff and inflexible'...even people who have done yoga before, phone and say they're not very good at it...NO SUCH THING!

yoga pose Yoga pose

There is a mass of information out there about the wonders of yoga and its amazing benefits but because the text is mostly accompanied by pictures of perfectly-toned gymnastic young women who are incredibly flexible and/or strong to the extreme, this enforces preconceptions about what yoga actually is...these kind of images alienate us 'ordinary' people from even considering going to a class, and I include myself even though I've been teaching for 12 years.

PLEASE DON'T BE PUT OFF - Yoga works on your mind as well as your body. Seeing as your mind creates your world, its worth making space and taking time to discover new things, and find out what's going on inside. It's a fascinating and rewarding journey!

If there is a seed of desire to try out 'yoga', just go for it - here are my top 5 tips to get you on the yoga mat for the first time!

1. Yoga teachers LOVE beginners who have not picked up any yoga habits - you'll be welcomed in with open arms and you will definitely not be judged on your 'performance'! Think who you are doing the practice for? YOURSELF, not the teacher, not the other people in the class. Yoga is NON-COMPETITVE so don't force your body (that's my definition of a 'good student')

2. Before you even get there, look up what's on nearby, phone or email - teachers love talking about what they do! A great question to ask is 'what is your definition of yoga? and see if it fits in with what you want. Or 'how is yoga different from pilates, or other exercise?' and 'what is involved in the class', 'how many years did you train/or how long have you been teaching?'. As teachers, we all have different focuses, and as students, you will have different requirements - the trick is finding the right teacher for you...think about why you want to do yoga - whether its to build strength, increase flexibility, slow down, get going, conserve energy, find healing, change career, lose weight, find the meaning of life etc...Take a look at our YU Community styles page to help you with all those styles of yoga with different names that probably don't mean anything to you...yet!

3. Once you've made it through the studio door, remind the teacher that you spoke on the phone, warn him/her that you may not do all of the practice but you want to see what the class is like which means if you stop doing what you're told, the teacher knows why and they respect that. Tell them about any injuries or issues which you think is relevant to yoga practice and ask for modifications. If they tell you just to keep up and push through, that ain't yoga my friend!

4. Once you've made the first step onto the yoga mat, you've done the hard bit. Think of an intention for your focus (eg. I am open-minded, I am kind to my body, I am strong, I am listening to my inner teacher etc...) so that as soon as you feel yourself wavering, go back to your focus.

5. Whatever you do, don't compare yourself to what other students are doing, their body/mind/ego is different to yours. If this means keeping your eyes closed through the whole class, then do it, obvioulsy you may need to take a peek to see what the teacher is demonstrating. If you don't understand the instruction or something doesn't feel right, ask the teacher if there is another way, or just stop.

If you're very lucky, you'll find a suitable teacher straight away and you might even enjoy it! But if you don't like the first class, try another teacher, another style, maybe a workshop that catches your eye...we have just set up the Yoga United Community to help you choose a style and a class in your area.

Some other articles:

Flowing Sequences or Holding Poses - which style of yoga is right for me?

5 Ways to Mindfulness - Listen Deeply