You’ve heard yoga is good for you: your athlete friend has been doing yoga to help prevent injuries. Your chronically stressed out friend has been going to yoga to deal with all that tension. Your doctor keeps suggesting yoga might help with that nagging back pain. Even your Mom has been taking classes lately. You’re curious, and also maybe a little nervous/skeptical. Now what?
- Find a class that is specifically geared toward learning the basics. Trust me on this one. Even if you are super active already, and cringe at seeing “beginner” in the name, you want to develop good habits early in your yoga practice. It’s a lot easier to learn proper mechanics and alignment at the onset than to correct them later, or worse yet: get injured.
- Show up early. Be at the studio 15 minutes or so before class begins. You’ll likely need to complete a new student form, maybe rent a mat, stand in line for the bathroom, etc. etc. Give yourself time to not have to run every red light, squeal into the parking lot, and rush into the studio gasping for breath. I’ve been there, and it ain’t a pretty sight. Also, it’s helpful to introduce yourself to the teacher, and let him or her know about any injuries you may have, and if you’re comfortable with receiving hands-on assists or adjustments during class, of if you’d rather pass for today. While hands on assists are common in yoga classes, that doesn’t mean that you have to opt in.
- Leave your expectations (and your shoes) at the door. First things first: if you’ve never been to a yoga studio before, it may strike you as weird that shoes (and purses, and coats, and cell phones) stay outside the yoga room in the reception area in some cubby-like structure. Think kindergarten, but for grown-ups. Oh, and the expectations part? You can leave those, too. It’s just more fun that way.
- Don’t worry about not fitting in. I always forget this when I visit a new to me yoga studio out of town when I’m traveling. It’s easy to forget when other people look different from us, or seem to share a common culture. The truth is, you belong there as much as anyone. Period. Feel free to apply this to life, as well.
- Enjoy. At the end of the day, yoga is about creating a deeper level of connection with ourselves and others, and experiencing life more fully, in this present moment. Everything else is just gravy.
Carrie Wren is professional life coach, yoga educator, facilitator of life-affirming yoga retreats + teacher trainings, travel junkie, and adventurer seeker. She is committed to Transformation, Empowerment, and Impact: for herself, for her clients, and for the world.