Yoga: 8 Tips For Your First Time.
Have you always fancied attending a yoga class, but could never quite muster the courage to dig out those leggings and get your sweat on in front of a room of complete strangers?
I remember the trepidation of setting myself up in the very back row of a gym yoga class, and now I see it often in my own classes; that person who runs straight to the back and looks visibly frightened at the sheer amount of lycra in the room… Maybe you don’t want to feel like a fool, because “I’m not flexible enough”, “Yoga’s for girls” or even “It’s just not my thing”
Well, I have to admit, you’re not alone. There are many people who are intimidated by the ‘persona’ of yoga. You know the one I mean; the bendy pretzel people – usually, though not always Women - who can pull off the leg behind the head picture with apparent comfort and ease… I can see how it often puts people off. And social media is both a blessing and a curse for promoting this; what some find inspirational and motivating, others find totally un-relatable or intimidating (if you're interested check out the always beautiful Kino MacGregor who perfectly illustrates my point). Did you know for example that Yoga was originally practiced exclusively by men? Or that the series of postures was originally created simply to allow them to sit comfortably in meditation for long periods of time? Modern Yoga is quite far removed from this now, but that doesn’t mean that the overall aims are any different; stability, mental and physical strength, flexibility and peace of mind.
More often than not people start yoga for fitness reasons, and if that’s what brings you in then that’s great, because everyone’s a winner! You come in, you sweat, you increase your flexibility and perhaps your stamina and you leave feeling upbeat and fresh (after a while anyway, I’ve never believed people who said this happened after their first ever class!) and you might find that over time you start to buy into the rest of it. But it’s totally optional. Yoga doesn’t care whether you believe in it or not.
Anyway, I’m hoping to set your mind at ease by imparting a few tips for your first class…
- Firstly, give the leggings a miss. Seriously, if leggings aren’t already in your wardrobe rotation and the idea of wearing them brings you out in cold sweats, then just don’t. All that yoga gear is just (an often colourful) dressing on a very wonderful cake. Just simply wear something that you are comfortable in and that you can move around in. It could be joggers, shorts, or an all-in-one unitard for that matter, all that’s important is that you have room to bend. And gents, honestly, just wear something with enough support and a little bit of a stretch in it. No one wants split trousers.
- Take it easy and be nice to yourself. This is a piece of advice I think even long-term practitioners could use occasionally… remember that it’s not a competition and use the time to learn about your body and be surprised by what it can do. Don’t push past your limits; it’s your first class and you’re not made of elastic, yet anyway. And remember, the time you spend on your mat is literally your chance to hang out with yourself; and no-one wants to spend time with a mean and competitive narcissist! Try to turn off that internal monologue, give yourself a break and just focus on your practice.
- Sit yourself at the front – If you can muster the courage this is a great way to learn things fast! Hiding at the back might feel like the safest place to be, but at the front you can see exactly what the teacher is demonstrating, be in their line of sight so that they can help you with alignment and at the very least it’ll stop you getting distracted by all the wobbly people in front of you during the balancing postures. How dare they distract you from your perfect balance!
- Bring some water. Also try to stay hydrated throughout the day, you can lose a lot of fluid when you exercise – up to a litre an hour – mainly through sweating and breathing (and trust me, you’ll be doing a lot of that in a Yoga class!) and the sooner you start to replace the fluid after class, the sooner you’ll recover.
- Remember that you are a beginner, and therefore have every excuse to get it wrong. Nobody but you cares if you don’t quite get a pose right, and if they do? Then they’re not getting their Yoga right either.
- Yoga is for EVERYBODY. Everybody, everywhere, every size and every gender. Think you have to look or be a certain way to own your Yoga practice? Think again, please, and take 5 minutes out of your day to check these amazing and inspiring Yogi’s out: "Fat Femme" Jessamyn Stanley, Boys of Yoga, Not-for-profit organisation Africa Yoga Project, Body Positive Yoga, and Grandma & Yantra yogini Susanna all gracefully and concisely proving my point.
- Everyone sweats, everyone farts, and everyone feels great. I don’t know a single person who can honestly tell me they’ve never farted in a class. It’s normal. Promise.
- Yoga is usually more beneficial for those who are the least flexible. Think about it… If it’s already super easy for me to put my leg behind my head then what am I learning by doing it?! The sweat, the frustration and the journey is what these classes are all about. It’s about you getting in touch with your body; it’s about understanding its current limitations with compassion and working with them. It’s actually, when you boil it right down, just about being nice to yourself.
“Yoga is not about touching your toes. It’s about what you learn on the way down.”
An introduction to Yoga
Saturday 3rd & 10th of September at The Honor Oak Wellness Rooms | 11.30 - 13.00 | £35
A Beginners Course consisting of three hours of practice over two weekends
If you have always wanted to try Yoga or revisit the fundamentals of practice then this is the course for you!
We will explore the practice and how it can build strength and increase flexibility.
With Claire Morris