5 Bits of Advice for Your First Yoga Class


Inspired to try your first yoga class but have no idea what to expect? What to wear? When to show up? Etiquette? Here’s a “how-to” guide to get you started.

What should I wear to a yoga class?

Practically speaking, it will depend on what type of class you are going to. If you are taking a power yoga class or a hot yoga class, you are going to sweat—A LOT! You’ll want to wear clothing that wicks away sweat, so avoid cotton, and choose fabrics that don’t hold the moisture close to your skin.

You’ll also want to wear clothes that allow you stretch to your full range of motion without causing discomfort, and allow you to breathe fully as you move. Most students prefer pants, as shorts can be somewhat revealing in various yoga poses. It is also nice to wear either a fitted shirt or one that can be tucked into your pants. Certain poses can cause loose-fitting shirts to fall and distract from your practice. Yoga is practiced barefoot, and many participants wear sandals to and from the studio.

What should I eat or drink before class?

It is important to stay hydrated before, during and after yoga exercises, not only because of the physical exertion itself, but also because yoga in particular works with the connective tissues of the body. The general health and pliability of connective tissue (and thus your physical comfort) is much improved when it is well hydrated. Many studios will have water available, but you might like to have a bottle or other closed container of water near your mat as you practice.

Some students find that they prefer to practice on an empty stomach, and others prefer to have a light snack before class. Either way, eating a large meal or drinking too much water can cause discomfort during yoga. Many yoga poses are designed to squeeze, stretch and twist the abdomen, so use your judgment when planning to practice yoga after a meal.

Do I need my own mat, or other equipment?

Most studios or gyms will have mats for you to use. After you’ve tried a few classes, getting your own mat is great idea. Yoga mats come in all kinds of colors and materials, from natural rubber to synthetic, as well as different levels of thickness. Studios will also provide basic props, such as blocks, which are used to help with alignment, and straps, which can help if you are new to yoga. Your yoga teacher can be a great resource for questions about the equipment you’ll need for your classes as you develop your practice.

Yoga class etiquette:

Get to class early! Arrive at least 10 minutes before your first class to get a spot where you feel most comfortable. Take off your shoes and socks before you walk into the room. Use a mat from the studio or bring your own, make sure you unroll it facing the instructor. Before class starts, introduce yourself to the instructor. Tell him/her whether you have any injuries, especially a recent one, so modifications can be given.

Most yoga classes end with Savasana (pronounced sha-vass-ah-nah). With this pose, you lie flat on your back, close your eyes and relax. You never want to walk out of a class when participants are in Savasana. If you have to leave, do it before.

Listen to your body!

Yoga teachers are guides. They have experienced yoga in their own body, and they have taught a variety of students and have a general idea of what will be safe and appropriate for most people. But they don’t know everything, and can’t possibly know exactly what you are feeling or thinking. Listen to your own body, ask questions, and enjoy the new experience!

Annie Farley of Elite Sports Clubs

Written by Annie Farley, MS, CPT; Spinning Certified Star 3 Instructor & Group Exercise Instructor at Elite Sports Club-Mequon

Annie Farley has been the Director of Group Exercise, and a personal trainer at the Elite Sports Clubs location in Mequon since 2010. As a two sport collegiate athlete, she developed a passion for strength and conditioning, coaching, wellness, and exercise physiology. Sharing the knowledge of exercise science, and the enjoyment of being active has been the focus of her tenure at Elite. Indoor cycling, boot camp, and strength training exercise classes are among her specialties. When she’s not teaching an exercise class, or training a client, Annie can be found on the tennis court, at the riding stable, or spending time with her husband and 4 kids.

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