The Yoga Virgin's How to Guide

1:58 PM

The world is becoming more aware of yoga every day. Finally North Americans are embracing this ancient form of mental and physical exercise accepted by Eastern medicine for centuries. Just a list of the health benefits could make any one interested, but perhaps the idea of attending your first class – especially alone – could be daunting. Here is my quick guide to attending your first yoga class:

Photo by: Sarah Goertz

1. Find a studio that fits your needs. 
 It is always a great idea to “shop around” and try studios in your area but for your first time it is a good idea to find a place in the ballpark of what you’re looking for, so as to not be too surprised. Hatha yoga is what North Americans typically associate with the word yoga. It is mainly a physical practice, involving a combination of poses (asana), breathing (pranayama) and meditation. Raja yoga is somewhat similar, with more focus on meditation. Ashtanga yoga is typically faster and incorporates flowing from one pose to the next, rather than staying in one and focusing on it. Vinyasa means breath-focused and may use sun salutations as the main set of poses to match with breathing. Iyengar is all about alignment. It may require holding poses for long period of time and may use various props to do so. Bikram yoga is what we know as hot yoga and is done is high temperatures to encourage detoxification and deep stretching.

2. Call ahead and ask about preparation. You may need to bring your own mat or arrive early. It’s good to know this before you get there.

3. Wear comfortable clothes that will cover you in many positions but not make you too hot. You will not wear socks or shoes to practice. Tying long hair back may be good too however a pony tail might irritate you in some poses. I think a side braid works great for me. Deodorant is also handy.

4. Bring water.

5. Meet the instructor before class begins. Tell them it is your first class. Let them know if you have any health concerns. Instructors should be knowledgeable, understanding and comforting. If you are nervous about class and they don’t work to make you comfortable, it might not be a good fit.

6. Have an open mind and enjoy.

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