Are you a yoga newbie? Want a little advice for your first yoga classes?
Firstly, let me say—I’m envious! My memories of those initial classes are vivid—it was wonderful to discover something that moved my body and helped me feel oh-so-good too!
For the beginner yogis out there, here are my top five tips to ensure you enjoy your yoga.
1. Relax, smile, and stay curious.
A yoga class can be tough, but it should also be nourishing and fun! Yoga teaches us to balance sthira (discipline) and sukha (joy)—our postures should be steady and challenging but you need to be able to breathe and maybe even smile...
2. Don't ignore pain.
Similarly, in yoga there’s no such thing as ‘no pain no gain.’ To avoid injury, back off from any knee twinges or lower back tenderness, and make sure you don’t push a pose past a point that you have been instructed to try.
If you have an old injury, let the teacher know and monitor how you feel during the class.
3. Introduce yourself.
On that note, it’s a nice idea to have a chat to the teacher before class starts (as long as there’s time and they aren’t too busy). Introduce yourself, explain any past injuries, and get a feel for what they teach.
Every teacher is different—some you will click with, others you might not. That’s OK, you can try a few different classes until you find one that fits!
4. Be kind to yourself.
This is such an important point (and really it applies off the mat too). Being kind to yourself doesn’t have to mean never trying a difficult pose or only going to the easiest classes. Being kind means dropping into Child’s Pose when you’re truly exhausted but pushing yourself when you know it would be good for you.
Slowly, yoga will help you develop your mindfulness skills so that you can be more aware of what you truly need in each moment.
5. Release expectations.
Every body is different—some can do crazy backbends, others love the standing sequences. Learn what works for your body and give it what it needs. Try to tune out your inner critic and release the expectations before you even begin—you aren’t expected to stand on your head for a good while yet!
In class if you find yourself comparing your posture to others, try to close your eyes (unless it’s Handstand or a balance pose of course!) as this will give you an extra challenge, and help you take the focus within.
Unlike other skills, yoga isn’t about getting anywhere. Rather, we learn to love where we are and work from there with joy.