1. Wear comfortable and appropriate clothes.
It seems obvious, but even experienced yogis can find themselves distracted by trying to keep ill-fitting clothes in place. Clothes that are too tight make it difficult to stretch and breathe, and clothes that are too loose move around too much and expose a lot of skin. A safe choice is a longish, fitted short sleeve or sleeveless top, and stretchy long or cropped pants. Try to avoid super-synthetic fabrics, which can begin to smell during a hot or intense practice.
2. Don’t come to class with a full stomach.
Trying to twist and stretch your body into yoga poses is unpleasant when your stomach is full of undigested food. Try to eat a meal about 3 hours before your class, and if you need it, a small, easily digestible snack like fruit or nuts about a half hour before the class starts.
3. Arrive early.
Try to arrive at the studio 10-15 minutes before the class starts. This will give you time to register, fill out any necessary paperwork, and find a spot in the room where you’re comfortable practicing.
4. Talk to the instructor before class.
Arriving early will also give you a few minutes to talk the instructor before you start, and ask them any questions you may have. Make sure you tell them that it’s your first time doing yoga and about any present or past injuries you may have. They will also tell you anything you need to know about the class and how to practice safely and happily.
5. Don’t compare yourself to others.
It’s your first yoga class, so comparing yourself to that girl in the front who warms up in a split is not helpful. One of the benefits of yoga is that it gives you a chance to look within yourself and explore your own limits, boundaries, and capabilities. When you compare yourself with other students, you miss out on that benefit.
6. Use your fellow students as teachers.
Instead of wishing you could do what another student in the class is doing, open yourself to benefitting from their experience You may not know or understand everything that the instructor is saying, and the instructor may not demonstrate every pose, but you can always follow the visual lead of the students in front of and beside you. Your pose may not look exactly like theirs, and their pose may not look exactly like the person’s beside them—and that’s okay!
7. Listen to your body.
Yoga may not always be comfortable, but it’s never supposed to be painful. Take it easy in your first class, paying close attention to how your body feels, so you can differentiate between the discomfort caused by having tight hamstrings, and the pain of over-stretching them. Listening to your body will allow you to stay safe in your practice, so you don’t try to push yourself into a pose you’re not ready for.
8. If you’re breathing, you’re doing it right.
It doesn’t matter if you can touch your toes. If you are breathing, in and out through the nose, you’re doing yoga! Follow your breath throughout the class. It may feel shallow at times, and deep and relaxed at others—however it feels, simply observe it and let it guide you through your practice.
9. Just relax.
An important benefit of yoga is that it releases tension and stress stored in the body. However, unconsciously tensing the body, particularly around they shoulders, jaw, and toes, and fingers is very common when you're first starting out. The more you are aware of the tension in your body, the more you’ll be able to let go and release it, allowing you to get the full benefit of every posture and more enjoyment out of the practice.
10. There’s Always Child Pose
If you grow tired, get confused, or just want to take a break for a while, there’s a pose for you! Feel free to come into Child Pose at any point during your class, whether the teacher cues it or not. Rest here until you’ve regained your connection with the breath, and feel ready to continue with your practice.