If you’ve never taken a yoga class, it can be an intimidating prospect. You imagine there are hordes of super-flexible and super-fit yogis in expensive yoga outfits who can contort themselves into crazy positions. You, on the other hand, struggle to even touch your shins — never mind your toes — and you’ll be wearing the running tights that have gotten you through a couple of marathons.
While it may be true that there are some insanely strong and flexible people in yoga, many classes welcome all levels with open arms. Take it from me, I’ve been in yoga classes, and I’ve never been able to contort myself into many of the pretzel shapes the instructors can. So be not intimidated by the unfamiliar! You don’t need to speak the language of yoga to get a lot out of a class. And the best part is that yoga is a practice, meaning that there is no perfection involved. You do the best you can with the body you have.
If you’ve never stepped into a yoga class before yet you want to start doing it more in the New Year, I’ve got a few ground rules so you can get grounded in class with total ease. Like the rules of gym etiquette I discussed in a recent post, there are a few yoga class basics that will let everyone in class have a better time with less distraction. After all, you don’t want this to be your yoga experience:
So if you want a drama-free trip to downward dog, read on for the rules of yoga class everyone should follow!
9 Yoga Rules to Know Before Class 1 of 10
Never set foot in a yoga studio? Follow these nine rules and you can walk into that yoga studio with confidence!
Show Up On Time 2 of 10
Like any group exercise class, you should do your best to show up on time — early, even. While you can sneak into some classes unnoticed, it's a little harder in yoga class because they tend to be calm, quiet places where everyone can zone out. The soft music is unlikely to drown out the noise of your fashionably late entrance.
Photo credit: University of the Fraser Valley, Flickr
Keep Pre-Class Chatter To A Minimum 3 of 10
Once you're there on time, try to avoid too much chit-chat, and when you do talk, talk in low tones. Some yogis take their practice really seriously and need a few minutes to mentally prepare for class. It won't hurt to have a few extra minutes of quiet time to breathe and stretch before you get started.
Photo credit: bradleypjohnson, Flickr
Turn Off Your Cell Phone 4 of 10
It should go without saying to put your phone out of sight (like in a locker or a cubby in the yoga room) and turn it off. The last thing the class wants is to be relaxing in corpse pose when a cell phone ringer blasts through the room. And don't even think about taking a call; if you're expecting an important call, hit the treadmill instead that day.
Photo credit: Fort Meade, Flickr
Don’t Spritz 5 of 10
Avoid wearing strong perfumes to class — especially a hot yoga class. Not only do you not want to overpower everyone in close quarters with a strong scent, but occasionally instructors will bring essential oils for aromatherapy as part of class. Perfume or strong lotions can prevent you from being able to fully experience it.
Photo credit: Robert Bejil Photography, Flickr
Line Up 6 of 10
You need surprisingly little space to practice yoga, so line up your mat with others in a row. Give yourself some space at first, but if it's a packed class, follow the teacher's instruction to get closer to your fellow yogis to accommodate everyone. I've been in classes like the video above where we basically only had our mat space. Look at it as an opportunity to be more aware of your own space.
Photo credit: BrianLockwood, Flickr
Back It Up 7 of 10
If you're a newbie, stick to the back row. It's helpful to be able to watch others and follow their lead. (This holds true for any class!) Feel free to ask others politely to switch places; they're usually very happy to accommodate.
Photo credit: khatawat, Flickr
Cut The Clutter 8 of 10
Yoga is such a good time to relieve stress and get rid of junk floating around your brain. So make sure you don't have any physical junk around your mat, like shoes or your phone. Clear your mat and clear your mind!
Photo credit: gbSk, Flickr
Talk To The Instructor 9 of 10
Often times instructors ask about injuries at the start of class, but this is another reason it pays to arrive to class early. It'll give you a minute to tell him or her that it's your first time in a class, or if you have any previous injuries or concerns about the practice. If the instructor knows you have knee trouble, it's far easier to offer modifications than if you'd kept that injury to yourself. The last thing a good teacher wants to do is perpetuate an injury, so good communication will start you off on a good note for a long, healthy practice. Likewise, if the instructor knows you're new to yoga, he or she can reassure you and offer modifications when it comes to particularly challenging moves so that you don't get overwhelmed and not want to come back!
Photo credit: Blissology Yoga, Flickr
Stay The Whole Time 10 of 10
Just like it's the polite thing to do to arrive early, try to stay the whole time unless it's an emergency — like your water breaking! If you do absolutely have to sneak out, make sure you tell the teacher beforehand, stay near the door and be as quiet as possible when exiting.
Photo credit: brad.coy, Flickr
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