It has come to my attention that there are some people who have not tried yoga, as I was at a yoga event the other day and there was a girl there who was trying yoga for her first time! Yes, I know, I'm from LA, but I thought everyone tried yoga when Madonna popularized it in her spiritual "Frozen" days in the 90's? Anyway, if you haven't tried yoga yet, and are interested in trying it out for the first time, here are my top tips of what you should know:
1. Research yoga studios.
Yes, I know I say research Yelp for everything, but it's true! Go on Yelp and figure out the top rated yoga studios in your area. You can also see the most popular teachers on here. Find out if you have to sign up online, because you don't want to show up to a sold-out class.
2. Go to a yoga class where you can get personalized attention.
You are going to be moving your body in lots of different ways; while this is very beneficial, it could also hurt you if you do the poses incorrectly! At the beginning of class, a teacher will ask if you have any injuries (speak up! They will make modifications for you), and they may ask if anyone is new to yoga. Tell the teacher at the beginning of class that you are new to yoga, and they will do their best to show you how everything is done. Bonus: if you really want to be on top of things, call the yoga studio in advance and say you want some personalized attention. They may tell you they offer privates, but just say you want to go to a class that isn't filled with students. That way, the teacher will have more time to focus on you.
3. Turn off your phone.
This is a major yoga faux-pas. If your phone makes noise during the class, the yogis will form a circle around you, shame you, and throw purple foam blocks at you (not really though, just make sure you turn off your phone).
4. Don't be surprised if you don't understand the names of the poses.
Asana Mana Drasana Warrior Chair Triangle what? Don't worry, you'll get the hang of it. Just watch for what other people are doing, and do that. Some important poses to know are down dog, child's pose, and be aware that the final pose is just lying on your back (you're doing it right).
5. No one cares if you're not doing "well."
If you're coming into yoga with a competitive attitude, you're doing it wrong. The point is to focus on your breath, and do your best. It's also called a practice, not a competition, so if you want to be able to do more of the poses better, keep practicing. We all start at different places. There are some things I'm great at, and some things that hurt my body, so I don't do them. Part of yoga is knowing what does and doesn't work for you. Sometimes, it's great to do activities that we think we're not great at, because it means there's so much room for growth. If you need to rest, rest.
6. Loose-fitting clothing will be annoying.
Not everyone feels this way, but if you're wearing loose fitting clothing that's draping all over the place, it gets distracting. Wear form-fitting clothing if you don't want to stare down your shirt for every down-dog.
7. Yoga mat towels are life-changing.
Yoga is the only place I notice where I have sweaty hands and feet?? In that case, it means that I'm trying to do yoga poses as if I were on a slippery floor. Yoga mat towels, which get placed over your mat, will make sure you are not sliding around. These can totally change your yoga practice if you tend to slip all over the place.
8. Yoga is really not fun when you're gassy.
You know what's not fun? Moving your body in a lot of positons with a rumbling belly, in a crowded room, trying to hold in your gas with a hurt stomach the whole time. Take it from me, this is not a fun time. Try a home yoga workout instead- no one wants to be the person who makes the class smell, and no ones wants anyone else to make the class smell, either. As long as we're on this bathroom subject... it may be an hour and a half class, so you'll probably not want to drink lots of liquids beforehand, so you don't keep running out of the room.
9. Sniffly? Bring Kleenex.
I used to have pretty bad allergies, and going into lots of the poses made my nose run even more. Bring some Kleenex is you're the sniffly type, or try getting rid of your allergies the way I did through a simple vegan diet. Ain't nobody got time for allergies.
10. Don't judge all of yoga by one teacher.
Much like any other kind of class, a teacher can totally make or break the class. You may want to try several teachers to find out the ones you like the best. Or, you can ask your fellow yogis, or the yoga studio, which are the favorite or most popular teachers. One of the best teachers I ever went to put the most amazing orange essential oil on our hands, and sang to us in the most beautiful voice. The worst teacher I ever went to had an erection the whole time in his tight shorts, and talked to us about aliens. But that's a story for another day...
11. Keep a sweater near your mat.
At the end, you'll do a pose called savasana, where you're lying on your back, and you cool down a bit -- it's nice to have your sweater handy so you can put it on for this.
These are some things I learned as I went, so if you are new to yoga, I hope this helps you! Did I leave anything out? What do you think would be helpful to yoga newbies?