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Your 12-Step Expert Guide to Starting a Yoga Practice

Your 12-Step Expert Guide to Starting a Yoga Practice
In This Article

Starting anything new can be daunting, and that counts twice for yoga. If you’ve never been to a yoga class — or only practiced a handful of times — stepping into a studio can be intimidating. Typically many levels are grouped into one class. And even if the teacher encourages everyone to approach their practice with beginner eyes, it’s often easy to separate the veterans from the newbies.

Here are some tips to take the experience from aaack! to zen:

1

KNOW WHAT TO BRING

Studios typically have blocks, straps, blankets and other props for students to use. Most gyms and studios have mats you can rent or borrow, but feel free to bring your own if you have one. It’s OK to wait to see if you enjoy the practice before investing in a mat. You may also want a towel.

2

AVOID EATING BEFORE CLASS

Give yourself at least an hour to digest. A slice of pizza and all that upside-downing just don’t mix.

3

DRESS FOR SUCCESS

Wear light, loose (but not too loose) fitting athletic gear you can move in comfortably. Ladies, a fitted tank top will keep you from tugging on the bottom of your top as you turn upside down. Gentlemen, consider what’s underneath those mesh shorts to avoid a peep show. Also, consider layers so you can take a long-sleeve shirt off once you’ve warmed up or add a hoodie during the cooldown.

4

DITCH THE EXTRAS

Leave ball caps, sunglasses, watches and jewelry at home or in your bag.

5

ARRIVE EARLY

Get to the studio about 10 minutes early to secure a spot, gather your props and get settled. If it’s your first class at the studio, show up 15 minutes early so you have time to fill out the new student registration form and introduce yourself to the instructor.

6

DON’T WEAR SHOES IN THE STUDIO

After you sign in and fill out any paperwork, take off your shoes. Most studios have a place for you to leave them near the entrance. You can leave your socks on if you’re cold, but you’ll want to take them off once class starts so you don’t slip on the mat.

7

LEAVE DISTRACTION AT THE DOOR

Turn off your phone. Gather your props, lay out your mat and relax. The hardest part — even for long-time yogis — can be getting through the door and onto the mat.

8

INTRODUCE YOURSELF TO THE INSTRUCTOR

If you’re new to a class or a teacher, let the instructor know you’re new and share any injuries or medical conditions.

9

CHANTING MAY HAPPEN

Class may start with a collective chant of “om.” Commonly used to start and also end a yoga class, om is a vibration. Teachers often end class with another chant of “om” and “namaste,” which means “I honor you” or “the good or the light in me honors the good or the light in you.” You can always sit quietly and listen.

10

EXPECT ADJUSTMENTS

Your teacher may adjust your posture by touching you. It should help you find proper alignment, deepen the pose and feel good. If you don’t want to be touched, just say so quietly.

11

MODIFICATIONS ARE OK

You don’t have to practice every pose. You can always rest in a seated position on your mat child’s pose. (For child’s pose, kneel down and sit on your heels with your knees and feet together. As you exhale, bend forward, placing your forehead on the floor. Relax and let gravity help release your shoulders toward the floor.)

12

DON’T RUSH OUT

Most classes end with several minutes in a final relaxation pose, savasana, where you lie on your back and quiet your mind. Don’t skip it.

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