My first yoga class was a mild catastrophe. I wore a big, baggy shirt and kept my shoes on, and I couldn’t do a single pose the teacher taught. I figured I’d never, ever be able to progress in any way that would be significant, but luckily I was proven wrong.
Now I always remind my new students that in yoga, progress is inevitable. Come as you are and embrace your first class, no matter what it brings.
Here are a few yoga tips to make complete beginners successful in their first class.
1. Only do what feels good.
If you find yourself in a pose that feels super unnatural, awkward, or downright painful, stop doing that pose. It might sound obvious, but when you’re in a full class at a new studio and the teacher tells you to do something, it’s pretty tempting to just suffer through it. There should be no suffering in yoga. Remember that this is a treat for your body, not a punishment.
2. Choose a class accordingly.
If you’ve never done a Downward Dog, don’t walk into a vinyasa flow class and expect it to be a breeze. Find a class for beginners or something that suggests a friendly pace for newbies. This isn’t a shaming thing, it’s simply being polite to your own body!
If you’re totally unsure where to start, call your local studio ahead of time and see what class they suggest. If you prefer to take some classes at home first, try some free ones on YouTube!
3. Don’t stress over what you look like.
No one is looking at you. Seriously. Whether you giggle at the word “sacrum” or accidentally pass gas in Happy Baby, no one’s judging you because they’ve ALL been there. And if anyone IS passing judgment, you’re in the wrong studio.
4. You are not “bad” at meditation.
Even if your mind is on your grocery list the entire time, it’s OK. Being still is really difficult and eliminating thought is almost impossible. Remember that even this aspect of yoga takes practice, and as long as you show up, you’ve already “won.”
5. You will never feel like an expert.
Even the handstanding contortionist in the front row doesn’t feel like an expert. Everyone is in the same mental space in yoga; we all feel like students who have a lot to learn regardless of the amount of experience we have in the physical practice. So stop looking forward to the imaginary point in time where you feel like you’re a pro, because it won’t ever come. And that’s a good thing, I promise.
All this is to say, enjoy the journey! Go in with an open mind, and remember that EVERYONE has had a first class and it’s totally fine to feel awkward about it.
Just remember that some day YOU will be the regular student whose practice is totally enviable, and savor the moments of being a beginner. It only happens once.