I sometimes get new students in my yoga classes. I find that I don't always have as much time to spend with them giving them tips and advice to here are some good ones to get you started and enjoying yoga more quickly.
1. Invest in your own yoga mat. Honestly, it kinda creeps me out to use gym mats because I know how much I sweat in yoga and laying on someone's sweat is kinda gross and not so Zen. You can find a solid not too expensive yoga mat online or at Target, New Seasons, some yoga studios and online. I prefer a thicker mat. My all time favorite mat is the Jade Yoga Fusion mat. Nice and thick and durable. It is not as cheap so make sure you are comitted to a practice before spending the dough.
2. Invest in a block if you practice at a studio or gym that does not provide them. They are $5 and worth every penny!Amazon carries them.
3. Bring water and a towel to class. Depending on the style of yoga, you may need these. If you are trying a heated class then you will want a larger towel so that your mat is not wet and slippery.
4. Speak to the instructor before and let he or she know you are new. Do not be embarassed. It helps the instructor to pay more attention to you and to give you some options.
5. Do not eat right before class. Give yourself atleast an hour or more after eating before trying a yoga class.
6. Pain is never the goal. Intensity and pain can often be mistaken. If any posture is painful then come out. Pain is never the goal and it not necessary. We are all shaped differently and not all poses are for all bodies.
7. Know the type and level of the class you are attending. Sometimes people who are "fit" feel they can step right into an intermediate class. While some can, intermediate classes often assume that the student has a base knowledge of yoga and some cues or alignment descriptions may be omitted. It is also good to understand what type of class you are attending...yin, hatha, vinyasa. Don't let the names scare you. Most classes have descriptions that will give you a good idea. You can always call ahead and ask more specific questions like..Is this a good class for a beginner? I am just wanting a slow paced class to stretch is this the one for me? I am looking for a good sweat and a good workout..is this class for me?
8. Don't feel pressured to try anything and don't be afraid to abort mission and take a child's pose rest if you need it. Yoga is about the journey within and the quest to listen to what our body tells us. It is not about keeping up with super yogi in the front row or proving that you can do a pose at the cost of injury or fatigue.
9. If you do nothing else. Breathe. Link breath to the practice and you have done yoga. It is really that simple. Everything else is just extra credit. :)
10. If at first you don't enjoy...try, try another class, style, instructor and another day. We meet a new self on the mat each day and that self is sometimes more energetic than others and sometimes not as bendy. I find some people love one instructor while some prefer others. Each instructor is unique and they add their own signature to their class. If you do not connect then try another class. The cool thing about yoga is that there are numerous styles so one will resonate with you most likely. As with anything new we start, it takes time and dedication. Yoga is no different. Come with an open mind and the willingness to explore what you find on your mat and be surprised that what you find may be completely different yet just as fulfilling as the someone else.