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If you’re new to Yoga, you may have no idea what to expect from your first Yoga session, workout, class, or program.
You might be a bit nervous because you don’t know how tough it’s going to be, how uncomfortable you might feel in all those twisting, turning positions, or what to expect from all the strange chants and meditations.
You’re in luck: we’re here to help!
We’ve got a complete guide to your first Yoga practice to help anyone who is new to Yoga to feel right at home in any Yoga studio.
Read over this post, and you’ll be ready to make the most out of the amazing Yoga session awaiting you.
New to Yoga: The Important Details to Know
1) Don’t sweat it if you’re not flexible, strong enough, or have poor balance. Yoga is all about challenging your body to do a bit more than it could the last time (or than you currently can), but it’s not about comparing yourself to others. So what if everyone else in the class holds their poses, maintains balance, or does the more strength-demanding tasks better? That’s to be expected, because everyone has their own level of fitness. All you need to worry about is yourself and the way you feel in response to these Yoga poses.
No matter how limited your strength, mobility, or flexibility, you can push yourself as hard as possible and walk away from the Yoga session knowing you did your absolute best—and that’s all that anyone could ask for!
2) Remember Yoga is for anyone. There is a lot of hype around Yoga developing incredible athleticism and physical fitness. While this is true, it’s not the sole focus of Yoga. In fact, it’s not even the most important focus of Yoga.
Yoga is all about connecting with your mind and body, feeling your movements and improving them through regular practice. Whether you’re an expert-level Yogi or someone totally brand new to Yoga, you’re right at home and doing what you should be. Don’t worry if you’re not an adept right off the bat. Give yourself time and work your way up to adeptness, just like you have to with literally every other skill and sport on the planet.
3) Yoga classes aren’t all the same. The classes will vary depending on the type of Yoga you’re doing. Hatha Yoga, for example, usually involves longer, slower-moving classes that focus a lot on breathing and meditation, whereas Ashtanga or Power Yoga both opt for faster-paced, shorter classes that accentuate the physical movements. Find a Yoga style that suits your fitness goals and current abilities—there are a lot of options to choose from!
4) Yoga classes are fairly varied, but some things remain the same. While every type of Yoga has its own pace, there are a few things that are consistent across the practices.
First, there’s the breath-movement aspect. Your movements are tied to and timed by your breaths, helping you to connect better with your body.
Second, there are the poses themselves. Some—such as Downward Dog, Cobra Pose, Child’s Pose, Warrior Pose, and Mountain Pose—are utilized across every type of Yoga, so it’s good to learn them before starting any Yoga class.
Third, most Yoga classes focus on a single goal, or an “intention” that is set—either by you or the Yogi—before the session. It’s a word or concept that you focus on that helps to anchor your thoughts to the nature of the training.
Finally, all Yoga classes involve a degree of stretching, twisting, and bending. You have to get comfortable being uncomfortable. The more you engage in the flexibility and mobility-increasing poses, the fitter you will become.
5) Comfort matters. Comfort is a critical component of your Yoga practice, in more ways than you realize. The environment should be pleasant, with a comfortable temperature (except for Hot Yoga). Your clothing should also be comfortable and allow you to move easily. Throughout the practice, you’ll want to stick with poses that feel “right” and don’t push you into situations where you are in pain or extremely uncomfortable.
6) Be prepared. You’ll need at least three things for any Yoga practice: a towel, water, and a Yoga mat. However, you may want to consider bringing a Yoga block (or two) if you’re brand new to Yoga, as the blocks help to provide additional support for stretching and bending poses. You may also want to bring small towels or cloths that allow you to maximize certain stretches.
7) Poses aren’t mandatory. If your instructor knows that you’re brand new to Yoga, they’ll offer some “modified” poses that you can do in case a certain pose is too difficult. And trust us, there will be LOTS of poses that qualify as “too difficult” even after months of practice. It takes time to work up to the more complex bending, folding, twisting, and balance-demanding poses.
So if you’re struggling, don’t stress. Settle for an easier modification of a hard pose, and give your body time to work up to the level you want it to be. And if you ever need a break, you are always welcome to take it—simply transition to a comfortable pose, like Child’s Pose, and let your body rest for a few seconds.
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