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5 Things to Know Before Your First Yoga Class

Let me introduce you to a new contributor, Lauren Padula. If you’re in San Diego and you’re the least bit active, you already know who she is. If you’re not familiar with her dynamic energy, oh-so-impressive athletic accomplishments, contagious energy and magnetic smile, you’re in for a real treat! Lauren is an all around amazing person, a true expert in her field and an amazing resource. She’ll be sharing articles that leverage her past athletic, academic and personal experiences that pertain to running, yoga and overall awesomeness. Enjoy!

5 things to know before your first yoga class

By now, you’ve read the articles touting the benefits of yoga, you’ve seen the Instagram profiles with the superhuman yogis, and you’ve decided it’s time to give yoga a try. Congratulations! Like with most other health and wellness changes, making the commitment to improving is the first step! You’re now on your way to being a more flexible, more calm (yet energized), and stronger person. So now what? Here are five things you should know and/or do before you step on your mat for the first time:

1. Get a quality yoga mat.

It’s tempting to buy the $9.99 yoga mat at your local sporting goods store, but a quality mat will make a world of difference in your practice. Even in an unheated room you will probably break a sweat during class. A cheap mat will be slippery, and having unstable hands and feet makes doing yoga difficult. Invest in a quality mat and a yoga towel and lose the fear of the sweat (but not your grip).

2. Arrive 10-15 minutes early.

The yoga studio is a place of calm and quiet. You’ll want to arrive with plenty of time to pick out your spot (don’t be afraid to go for the back if you’re brand new, it’ll give you an opportunity to watch other yogis if you get lost), lay out your mat, and get comfortable before class starts. You don’t want to be rushing or flustered when you arrive and you definitely don’t want to be late. The late comer to class disrupts the entire vibe of the room.

5 things to know before your first yoga class

3. Don’t wear shoes in the studio.

On a basic level, shoes carry the dirt and grime from the outdoors and you don’t want to track that into the studio. On a deeper level, one of the pillars of yoga philosophy is cleanliness or purity. Yoga is purifying for the mind, body, and soul, and removing your shoes before entering the studio is a ritual that is part of the purifying process.

4. Definitely don’t compare yourself to other yogis.

Each person in a yoga class has a different background, level of fitness, and level of experience with yoga. The goal is not to look like the person next to you (or the instructor) but to begin to feel the poses in your body, what feels good, what areas are tight, how your breathing feels, and where you have challenges. Be content with where you are at that moment. Turn your attention inward rather than focusing on the external. The mirror is there for you to be able to look at your alignment – not judge your body’s appearance.

5. Don’t base your entire yoga experience off of your first class.

Your first class will not be your best, you will improve, and you will feel better every time you step on the mat. Remember that yoga is a lifetime practice. The goal is not perfection of any one pose or series of poses, but the constant practice and improvement over time. If you really didn’t enjoy the class (which you might not), try a different style of yoga or a different teacher. There are many types and one is bound to fit your body and personality.

5 things to know before your first yoga class
Most importantly, enter your yoga class with an open mind, enjoy the experience, and never skip savasana (your final resting posture, that’s where the magic happens).

Namaste – and enjoy!

Lauren Padula
Lauren Padula, DPT, RYT-200
Lauren is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, running coach, and a Yoga Alliance RYT-200 certified yoga teacher. She believes in the synergistic power of yoga and running as a transformational agent of change in people's lives. Embracing the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of a yoga practice and combining them with running has been a powerful shaping force for Lauren.

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