17 Apr 2019
6 Things to Know Before Your First Yoga Class
You know the benefits of Yoga, everyone talks about them.
Like that somehow yoga makes one feel better. That practicing the postures, breathing exercises and meditation makes for a healthier body, mind and spirit.
You know all this, and you’ve always wanted to do it, but are too nervous to try.
Questions like, what will happen? What if I can’t do it? Will they talk about my Chakras? Will I have to become spiritual and chant “Ohm”? What is all the hype really about?
There are many reasons why people love yoga.
It lets you tune in, chill out, shape up – all at the same time. Then there’s the bonus extras, research suggests that yoga helps manage or control anxiety, arthritis, asthma, back pain, blood pressure, carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic fatigue, depression, diabetes, epilepsy, headaches, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, stress and other conditions and diseases. Then on top of all that, there’s the more surface level stuff: Yoga helps improve muscle tone, flexibility, strength and stamina. Reduces stress and tension; boosts self esteem, improves concentration and creativity, lowers fat, improves circulation, stimulates the immune system and creates sense of well being and calm.
And if you want the spiritual: Yoga helps us get in touch with our true selves, but if you don’t believe in all the ‘mystical’ side, you don’t have to. Yoga doesn’t discriminate.
So now that you know WHY people do Yoga, what is the experience of a Yoga class like?
Read on for the things you need to know before going to your first Yoga class.
1: It doesn’t matter if you’re not flexible
You wouldn’t say “I better not go to that spanish class because I can speak spanish.”
Everyone has to start somewhere, an asana (the poses) practice will help you find the limitations in your body so that you can start working on them in a measured, effective, informed way. You should be going to yoga to address this, not seeing it as a reason to stay away.
Besides, when you think about it no one was good at sudoku, tennis or even cooking straight away. Like anything you have to put in the miles to get anywhere on the journey.
2: It’s probably going to be hard – at first
Everything is going to shake, it’s going to feel challenging, but at the end of the class you’re going to feel really good. – Promise!
It may be hard for your body, may be hard for your mind or both. But as crazy as it sounds, that’s what makes it great.
Recognise that you’re going to be moving your body in ways its has probably never been moved before. You will be supporting your own body weight with bits that maybe aren’t used to having that as a job. You’ll have so much to think about that you’ll probably forget to breathe at least half a dozen times. But thats all normal and like anything, it gets easier with practice and confidence.
3: No one cares if you can’t do a pose
It’s highlight likely that there will be some stuff you can’t do (maybe a lot of stuff and that’s okay.) It’s also likely that because of this, you’re going to take a blow to your ego. Learning anything from scratch makes a person pretty humble, pretty quickly. This is not the time to be a sore loser. Understand you’re just not going to be able to do some of the poses – and that’s okay!
The person who will be bothered by this most – is you and only you.
The important part is to give each pose your best shot.
A wise yogi once said “Yoga isn’t about touching your toes, it’s what you learn on your way down.”
4: You can and should ask questions
If you have worries, concerns or just want to tell your teacher that you’re nervous , that’s fine! Everyone (including your teacher) was once a beginner too, and so knows exactly how you’re feeling.
Admittedly you may be better to wait till after the class is over, to ask specifics, but a good rule of thumb is, that if something doesn’t feel right in your body, don’t do it.
Let you teacher know what you were feeling after class and they will be able to let you know where you can improve and offer modifications to make a tricky pose more pleasant.
5: Yoga is a marathon, not a sprint
You will walk out of your first yoga class feeling great – almost guaranteed.
And then life happens, and you wake up the next morning and your legs are killing. You are sore in muscles you didn’t even know existed. Suddenly you’re so much more aware of your body – in the kind of way you didn’t sign up for! Your plan of Yoga every morning for a week goes straight out the window because you can’t even make it down the stairs.
Sadly, this is where many aspiring yogis quit.
But remember there is a reason it’s called a yoga practice. Changing and making a new habits takes time. IF you want to see results faster, practice more often and you’ll see the changes. Make a goal to try and go twice a week for a month, or once a week for two months and you’ll see the difference.
6: Other people aren’t judging you
This is a beginners mind playing tricks. You’ll figure out why pretty quickly. Because 10 minutes into your first yoga class you will realise everyone is too focused on what they are doing, to worry about you. That’s kind of part of the Yoga experience. It requires a lot of physical AND mental energy.
It takes a lot to hold a pose: keep your core strong, while your leg is on fire and your arms are wobbling when holding a warrior pose. Or keep your hips to the ceiling, fingers pushing forward and ankles soft and neck relaxed while in downward dog. The point is, it takes more effort than you realise to keep your concentration on the muscles you need to keep tight and keep soft, the ones you need to keep soft.
The last thing anyone else is thinking about in these moments is judgement on the person next to them. As Nic Gregoriades the Jujitsu Master once said, “Yoga is the martial art you do against yourself.”
So while you maybe in a large group setting, how much effort you put into each pose is challenge & goal you set for yourself.
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