As a beginner who is trying on a new activity, it’s normal for you to have mixed feelings of nervousness and excitement. That said yoga doesn’t need to be nerve-wrecking for you. You can ease into it if you get oriented and prepared for it, which is what this section is going to do.
In this section, you will learn where to start as a beginner, what to expect in yoga and how to approach your first class among many other things. Let’s get started then;
Where To Begin As A Newbie In Yoga ?
The perfect place for you to start when you want to practice yoga is in choosing the type of class that you will do or start with. Basically there are two types of classes; a private session class and a group session class. Below is a brief explanation of each class and their benefits, which will assist you to figure out which one suits you the most.
Group Class Session
A group session is a class of yoga where a number of yoga students gather to be guided on how to do yoga by one yoga teacher. A group class session mostly follows a schedule when it comes to what poses to do on a particular day.
So why choose to do a group class session?
- Improves your social life
A group session of yoga normally provides you with an opportunity to make friends and share your life with a group of like-minded people. This is mostly easy because you share something in common with all the yogis in your class, which is a perfect foundation for friendship and even a relationship.
- Offers you a support system
Most group yoga classes normally have a question answer period at the end of the class. In that period, you and other students get the opportunity to ask and discuss common issues that affect you in yoga. This process is what creates a support system for you because it gives you a platform where you can get help whenever you need. In addition, it helps you learn from other people’s problems or challenges.
- Helps in consistency
When you attend a group yoga class, you usually have friends who hold you accountable over everything that you do. These friends are what help you to be consistent in your yoga sessions because if you don’t attend, they will be on your case. Your consistency also increases because you form strong bonds with your friends, which makes you not to want to miss a session with them.
A private yoga session is a class where you get one-on-one instructions from a yoga teacher who is specifically there for you. The yoga teacher is your personal trainer and his/her job is to teach you yoga poses, observe and adjust your poses to make sure you are getting the most out of a yoga session.
So why choose this type of class?
- Concentration on your goals
Everyone who goes to a yoga class usually has a burning reason why they are doing so. Some people do yoga for relaxation purposes, others do it to deal with the back pain they may be experiencing while others do it to get fit and flexible. Basically each student has their specific reasons for doing yoga.
When you choose private sessions as your class, you normally share your goal with your yoga teacher who then prepares a session that is based on your goals. This is impossible in a group yoga class because it has different students with different goals that cannot all be satisfied so they go with a program.
- Saves you some embarrassment
As a beginner in yoga, it is automatic for you to lag behind and do some postures badly when you start yoga. To some of us, this makes us feel embarrassed and even discourages us from attending another yoga session.
Private sessions are beneficial because they give you room to learn without being judged. With them, you can do all the trial and error you want and not only will you not be embarrassed about them but also learn through them at your own pace.
So which is the best between the two methods?
There is no right answer to that question. It all comes down to your personal preference. However, as a beginner it is probably best for you to start with a few private sessions before you can choose the group class sessions.
You can have a private session, where you follow tutorials or you can even use this audiobook to do some poses. The great thing about this option is that it would not cost you anything and you would be able to practice yoga in the comfort of your home.
What To Do Before Your First Yoga Class ?
The next step after knowing the yoga class to start with, is learning how to approach a yoga class for the first time and knowing what you need to do before then. Below is a list of things that you need to do before your first yoga class:
(i) Set a goal
One of the secret weapons that you should have when going into a yoga class is a goal. A goal is simply what you are aiming to achieve when you practice yoga. As you saw above, everyone who goes into yoga does it for a reason. Yours can be to be fit.
Goals offer you positive stress, which is what you need to succeed in strengthening your body and live a stress free life with yoga. Therefore, before going into a yoga class, you should define your reason for doing yoga and come up with an actionable goal.
(ii) Know what to wear
The basic principle when it comes to what to wear in yoga is, always wear what is comfortable for you. However, some guidelines can help you choose the right clothes to wear when you are starting yoga. Here they are:
- You should wear something that is not too loose. Loose clothes suffocate you during a downward dog pose.
- It is a good idea for you to wear layers on your top half during yoga. This is because it can help you stay warm in savasana and gives you an option of shedding them off when the heat is too much.
- High waist trousers and leggings are highly recommended for yoga. This is because they remove the fear of you exposing your behind when doing yoga, which heightens your concentration.
Basically a t-shirt and an elastic-waist shorts work perfectly for men. For women a tank top and yoga or leggings pants amazingly works. The last thing to note is yoga is done bare foot so take your socks off when you get into a yoga class.
(iii) Know what to eat before yoga
Every expert in yoga agrees with one thing; you should not eat any heavy food 2 hours before doing yoga. If you do, you and the people around you may pay the price and trust me it won’t be pretty.
On a more serious note, doing forward bends and twist on a yoga mat with a full stomach can make you nauseating and uncomfortable and you don’t want that.
However, you cannot go to a yoga class on an empty stomach, as you won’t last long as yoga needs a lot of energy. Therefore, what you should do is to take a snack like a handful of nuts and yogurt or fruits like bananas and dates, which will provide you with the energy you need without making you full.
(iv) Familiarize yourself with commonly used yoga terms
In order to practice yoga efficiently, you need to learn the commonly used yoga terms; you need to learn the Sanskrit, which is the yoga language. Yoga is normally taught in Sanskrit with a little bit of English. Therefore, if you don’t know the yoga language you can be confused the whole time you are in a yoga class. Below are some of the mostly used Sanskrit and there meanings.
- Asana: a pose or a posture
- Tadasana: mountain pose
- Savasana: corpse poses. It’s a final resting pose in a yoga class.
- Prayama: controlled breathing.
- Bandha: tightening of your muscles
- Namaste: it’s a respectful greeting in yoga
- Utkatasana: chair pose
- Vinyasa: a series of poses
- Mantra: repeating words or syllables
- Chanting Om: it is a sound of creation that yogis use to unite energy and bring sacredness into their practices
(v) How to communicate in class
Yoga sessions are very strict when it comes to communication. They don’t allow you to talk when a session is in progress. Why, you may wonder? This is because you will distract the class by interfering with other students’ concentration. So how are you supposed to communicate communicate in yoga ?
The best time for you to communicate with your yoga teacher is before or after a class. For instance, if you are pregnant or you are a beginner, you can approach the teacher before a session and tell them that. They will then find you the necessary props that will make the yoga practice comfortable for you. That is common practice. Once the yoga session starts, you need to keep quiet and pay attention. However, what if you have something pressing to ask in the middle of a yoga session? What should you do then? If something is important, you can raise your hand and then the teacher will come to you.
(vi) Know what to bring when you go to a yoga room
The only items that you are allowed to bring in a yoga room are usually a bottle of water, a mat and maybe a small towel to wipe your sweat with. As a beginner, you should avoid carrying your phone into a yoga room.. This is because a yoga room is a place where you disconnect yourself from the outside world and a cell phone is a part of your outside world.
What To Expect From Yoga Class As A Beginner ?
By now, you know that you need to remove your shoes, choose a spot, set your mat and wait for the class to begin when attending a yoga class. However, what should you expect to happen next? Here is a brief explanation of what happens next.
At the beginning of a yoga class, the instructor is going to guide you through some breathing, which he/she will match with your movement. The breathing will bring in some focus, strength and energy, which will calm you down and help you execute each pose well.
The instructor will then make you go through a sequence of poses where you will go from lying down to standing and to sitting. The poses that you will do will all be designed for a specific intention such as to improve your balance, strengthening your body or restoring your energy.
Some instructors demonstrate each and every pose for you. They will walk around and adjust your poses to help you get into proper alignment. If you don’t like to be adjusted, you can communicate that to the instructor and he won’t assist you. That said when the class is big, instructors don’t get the time to demonstrate poses so they just use verbal cues. As a beginner you will be encouraged to use props like blocks and straps on your first day. This is because they are good at assisting you to get the most out of the yoga practice.
Yoga classes end with a few minutes of you lying down with your eyes closed in a pose known as savasana. At this time, you are supposed to let your body and breathing relax. Savasana helps you feel the physical effects of the poses that you have just done.
Once you are through with the savasana, the instructor will bow and say Namaste, which is a gesture word that means “thank you” for coming to practice. The students including you will repeat the word Namaste as a way of thanking the instructor.
How To Improve Your Start ?
For you to improve how you start in yoga, you must understand some basic do’s and don’ts when it comes to yoga. Here are a few do’s and don’ts that will ensure your first yoga class goes smoothly.
- Find out if a studio offers yoga mats
As a beginner, you should call in and find out whether the studio you will go to for your first yoga session provides a yoga mat or not. This is essential because not all studios offer you yoga mats. So you are required to bring yours. Knowing this information in advance is better instead of missing a class because you don’t have a yoga mat.
- Arrive early in class
As a beginner, it is important for you to arrive at a yoga class 10-15 minutes early. This is because you are a new student and you need some time to familiarize yourself with the class. Arriving early also gives you time to choose a spot, lay down your mat and maybe do some stretches before the class starts. Basically, it gives you time to settle down. That said, arriving in class early is something that you will need to do from your first class onwards.
- Let the instructor know that you are new
As a newbie, your first yoga class can be more beneficial to you if you inform the instructor that you are a new student. Why? This is because instructors tend to offer you more support when they know you are new. Most often than not, they will concentrate mostly on you and that will come with some extra help that will make your first class better than it could be if you hadn’t said a thing.
- In case you have a condition or an injury let your teacher know
Doing yoga while you have an injury can be dangerous to your health. For instance, it can cause more pain to your injury and it can worsen your injury. Thus, as a beginner, you should inform the instructor if you have an injury. That way, they will be able to advice you on what to do and what not to do during a yoga class.
- Never ignore savasana
Savasana is usually the last step of a yoga class where you take time to relax your body and mind. As a yogi, you should never ignore savasana. This is because relaxation is an important part of yoga, which brings balance to your body. Furthermore, you can distract the class if you walk out during savasana.
- Don’t push yourself too hard
There is no denying how beneficial yoga is when you do it right. However, you should never push yourself too hard by trying to do poses you can’t. This is because you might end up injuring yourself, which will definitely not help you attain the benefits you are looking for. What you should do is practice poses the best way you can, without you straining yourself. Then you can learn to perfect them as you go on.
- Don’t drink water 30 minutes after yoga
When you do yoga, you usually build up some fire in you known as ushna. When you drink water immediately or anywhere, in the first 30 minutes after a yoga session, you normally cool yourself and bring the ushna down; that process normally comes with side effects. Some of these side effects include a build- up of excess mucus, allergies and colds. That is why you should avoid drinking water 30 minutes after a yoga workout.
- Don’t do vigorous jobs after yoga
Yoga is usually a relaxing type of exercise. It is meant to relax your body and your mind so when you do vigorous jobs after a yoga class, you usually beat the purpose of a yoga class. In addition, it is a step backward when you do yoga. You should instead focus on relaxing your body after a yoga class.
You are now ready to start yoga. The chapter below is going to take you through some of the basic yoga poses that you may do in your class or that you can do in the comfort of your home.