10 Tips for First-Time Yogis
Being a beginner at anything can be exhilarating and terrifying, intimidating as well as inspiring. First-time experiences spawn new hobbies, loves, and habits however, they also send us scurrying back to the safety of routine if we're overly unsettled or confounded by the new task at hand. Yoga classes confound people all the time. Lack of preparation, unrealistic expectations, and the occasional wave of nausea because nobody told you to forgo the nachos before class can all throw your foray into yogic bliss way off course, which is why I'm here to help by sharing 10 Tips for First-Time Yogis:
1. Know before you Go:
Is the class heated? How long does it last? Can you rent a mat onsite or do you need to bring your own? You don't need to play 20 questions with the studio manager over the phone before your first visit, but you do need to have a vague idea of what you're getting into. Studios and styles of yoga vary greatly. Some rules of the road are learned only through experience such as the social gaffe of wearing fur or leather to Jivamukti in NYC, for example. Take advantage of the information available to you upfront via studio websites, blogs such as OmGal.com, and your own yoga-loving friends. And, keep reading . . .
Most unpleasant first-time yoga experiences and plenty subsequent unpleasant yoga experiences result from lack of preparation, particularly as it relates to nutrition. If you're venturing into a heated class, this point is especially important: drink lots of water. Similarly, watch what you eat. Yoga aids digestion however, it can't do so if it has to compete with a latte, a burrito, two Red Bulls, and an afternoon vending machine raid.
3. Skip the Mayhem Arrive Early:
A common foible among beginners is to arrive just on time or slightly late. It's not a cocktail party, friends there's no such thing as fashionably late. Get to class early so that you can acquaint yourself with your surroundings and, ideally, the teacher. The goal is to beat the rush, so that the studio's staff can spend enough time helping you to get situated before being overrun by throngs of yogi veterans.
4. Back Row is Best:
As previously stated, yoga classes are not swank cocktail parties, nor are they Black Eyed Peas concerts. The front row is no place for first-timers. The back row is much better, as you'll get the gist of what to do by watching those around you. (Please note: this should not be confused with ogling others see #8).
5. Dress the Part:
Skip the gossamer tank tops, booty shorts, and baggy mesh jerseys. Yoga poses demand a lot from your body and attire. You be up, down, upside down, and backwards. Make sure your clothes can comply.
6. Gentlemen, This is Important . . .
Doff your hats: Nothing screams don't know what Im doing here like a guy who wears a baseball cap to yoga class. You'll be upside down a lot of the time it will fall off. You'll keep adjusting it. It will be annoying. Take it off before stepping on your mat. Please, just trust me on this one.
7. Don't Talk:
You wouldn't gab during your buddy's backswingon the links, so think of yoga class in the same way. It requires maximum concentration and minimum distraction therefore, please keep quiet. This includes the few minutes when you might be waiting outside the studio for class to begin, while a prior class is concluding. Chances are they'll be in meditation:shhhhhh.
8. Keep your Eyes on the Prize:
Initially, glimpsing around the room is somewhat necessary for newbies because you don't know the lingo yet and need a visual reference. On the other hand, looking around for interesting outfits, dating prospects, or a distraction from your practice is counterproductive. Use your gaze as a steady anchor and your focus, balance, and endurance will improve. Relaxing your eyes on a singular point of focus also helps to unwind from a busy day of too much stimulation via computers, cell phones, TV, etc.
9. Experience Gratitude:
You can practice yoga for the rest of your life, so there's no need to conquer it all on the first try. Instead of fretting if you fumble with poses, be grateful that you have a healthy body that allows you to try new things, express yourself, and find outlets for stress.
Deep, meaningful rest is one of the greatest gifts a yoga practice gives us whether we practiced for years or mere minutes. Enjoy!