New to yoga? This article is a comprehensive guide that seeks to answer all of your questions about yoga, including everything that you need to know before doing your first beginner yoga workout. By the end of this article, you will learn about what yoga is, how to determine whether yoga is for you, what to wear, what equipment you need, how often to do it, and what style to choose for your first class.
Yoga for Beginners at Home or at Studio
What do I need for my 1st Beginner Yoga Class?
Yoga is done in bare feet on a yoga mat. Even the most basic yoga stretches require clothes that can stretch or move, so wear the most comfortable outfit that allows you to move around quickly. If you’re doing a gentle, slower class, then dress warm (sweatpants, long sleeve shirt), and if it’s a more rigorous class, wear shorts and a t-shirt or a tank top.
Teachers will often suggest that you leave your ego at the door, and that includes not being self-conscious about the clothes you are wearing. Wear what makes you feel good.
Some classes use additional equipment or props, such as straps, blocks, bolsters, blankets, and chairs. You don’t need to purchase any of these to begin doing yoga. If you’re going to attend a class at a studio, they will provide everything that you need.
However, if you’re doing a class online, you will need a yoga mat, and you will want to check to see whether additional equipment is required. If it is, there are easy ways to replace standard yoga props. For example, you can use a belt or rope instead of a strap. If a bolster is needed, you can check out this short video on how to make a bolster at home.
If you’re going to purchase anything, you should buy a yoga mat. Most studios provide mats for free or rental, but they are often cheaper plastic mats, and you will likely feel better on a mat that you chose yourself.
Mats come in all sizes and materials, so it’s good to educate yourself, particularly if you’re looking for something non-toxic and supportive on joints such as knees and wrists. The variety can be overwhelming, so check out our article on The Best Yoga Mats of 2020, where we review a few of the most popular yoga mats that can be easily purchased online.
How do I know if yoga is for me?
Yoga is accessible for everyone, no matter what you look like, how old you are, how you dress, how much you weigh, what you do for a living, where you live, or what religion you practice. Yoga is in no way exclusive.
You may have a particular condition or a recent injury that makes it challenging or dangerous to do certain types of yoga, specific poses, or breathing techniques. Still, there will likely be safe alternatives that an experienced yoga instructor can help you.
If you are 55+, out of shape or extremely inflexible, begin with a gentle class until you feel it’s safe to move onto something more challenging. Never be ok with pain. A certain amount of discomfort is ok, but the pain is your body’s way of telling you to back off.
Why Should I Do Yoga?
There are so many benefits of doing yoga. Yoga can help you:
improve and maintain the health of muscles, joints, and organs
keep your mind healthy
get a better night’s sleep
improve performance and prevent injuries in sports
speed recovery from training
prevent conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and auto-immune disorders
slow down the harmful effects of an office job
and increase your sense of happiness and well being.
It’s a practice that is both physical exercise, helping improve toning, stamina, posture, strength, balance, and flexibility, as well as a discipline that helps you de-stress, relax, feel healthier and more energetic.
The best way to know if yoga is for you is to give it a try. Do your due diligence first – visit a few different studios or, if you plan to do a class online, contact us with your questions. We will let you know what lessons would suit you best and give you any advice you need before practicing. If you are someone recovering from an injury or are of poor health, we recommended seeing a physician before practicing. Especially if you think there may be risks associated with practicing yoga.
What do I need to know before doing my first class?
Many of the expectations of a yoga studio are similar to any class – arrive early, don’t wear perfume, and don’t interrupt the teacher. Questions are always welcome, but you may want to ask at the beginning or end of the class, depending on how many students are present. If you’re doing a course with Yoga on Mill, you’ll be in your own home, so do what you want!
Every instructor has a different overall approach to teaching. Some focus more on physical postures or some on meditation. Also, Some do mantra, and some don’t; few people adjustments to their students, and others don’t. Your experience from one class to another can be radically different, even within the same yoga style.
So don’t give up if you didn’t enjoy your first class. For example, although they both teach Power Yoga, our two Yoga on Mill instructors Fiji McAlpine and Tracey Noseworthy have very different styles, and many prefer one over the other. Many also enjoy taking classes with them both.
A yoga class is meant to be a place where you feel comfortable and cared for – a space without judgment. Don’t worry if you are unable to keep up with everyone. It’s more important to go at your own pace to ensure that you do everything safely. You don’t need to know the names of poses to participate. Most instructors provide explicit instruction throughout and tips for alignment and positioning.
If you have never done yoga before, the best place to begin for most people is with a beginner hatha yoga class. Hatha yoga generally spends more time on physical postures, as opposed to a mantra, pranayama, and meditation, and moves slow enough for anyone to keep up while focussing more on safe alignment. As I said earlier, though, all of the above depends on the teacher.
If you are looking at Yoga on Mill for an excellent place to begin,
If you are 55 or older, you may want to take a class that is either gentle or specifically for seniors. You can find our collection of seniors’ classes by choosing ‘Yoga for Seniors’ under ‘Style’ on our ‘Yoga Classes’ page. We also have plenty of gentle hatha yoga classes that many seniors can benefit from. For example, David’s
What should I expect from a studio class?
Studio classes are anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours in length, and the class size can be 2 to 100 students, depending on the studio. Most studios allow anyone to drop in on a class anytime, which is great if your schedule is unpredictable. In contrast, some types require that you register and pay for a specific duration beforehand.
Depending on the class size, your instructor may be able to give you individual guidance and adapt the poses to your needs, mainly if your instructor is highly qualified and experienced. If you have difficulty doing certain poses, you can be shown an alternative. In larger class sizes (20+), it’s more difficult to provide individual attention.
Experienced instructors may also include the benefits of many of the poses you are doing in class.
How often should I do yoga?
If you’re able to practice yoga three times or more per week, you will likely see significant improvements in areas such as flexibility, joint range of motion, strength, balance, ability to manage stress, quality of sleep, happiness, and overall well being. Everyone’s bodies are different, so this, of course, is relative.
Practicing a beginner yoga routine once or twice per week will help you maintain things as they are, while possibly seeing some smaller improvements over time. Like anything fitness-related, the more time you can dedicate to it, the more beneficial it will be.
The Yoga Mindset
Yoga is not a religion, a cult, or a belief system. At the root of yoga is self-inquiry. Understanding the balance of effort and release in your yoga practice requires constant attention and sensitivity. It has profound meaning in our everyday lives as a meditation on balancing stress and relaxation.
Experiencing pure relaxation is an advantageous experience. And understanding how to move into extremely challenging poses effortlessly, with a calm mind and steady breath, is invaluable to us all in our busy lives.
Yoga’s origins come from a deeply-felt drive for self-understanding, physical and emotional release, and total well being. It’s much more than the physical experience of a yoga pose. It digs deep into the reality of who you are, what you want, and why you are here.
As you spend more time doing yoga, you will likely dig deeper into the layers that make up who you are as a person. Yoga helps you let go of old patterns, feel more open and happy and connect with friends, family, and your world in a more meaningful way.
I hope that this article has provided you with all of the information that you need. If you do end up taking your first class, send us an email to let us know how it went.
We wish you the best in whatever journey you’re on.
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