If you are brand new to yoga, there are a few things that you will want to know to prepare you for class. Yoga can seem like an intimidating practice, but it doesn’t have to be. When you know a few basics about what to expect, you’ll feel more ready for class. Whether you are brand new to yoga or you are coming back to the practice after a very long hiatus, the following tips will help you ease into the practice.
Wear Comfortable Clothes that Are Not Too Loose
You will want to wear clothing that is comfortable, first and foremost. But be sure to not wear a shirt that is too loose. That big, comfy t-shirt you love? You won’t feel as comfortable in it as it falls over your head when you are inverted in Downward Facing Dog Pose. A t-shirt is fine, as long as it has a tighter fit. You don’t have to show up in a skin-tight, leotard-like ensemble or even the “yoga clothes” that you think you must wear to be a yogi, but you should wear something that will allow you to move comfortably and without wardrobe malfunction.
Yoga is practiced barefoot for a couple important reasons. When your feet are in direct contact with the ground you will be better able to actually feel how you are standing on your feet. You will notice how you place your weight, and you will be able find stability using the muscles of your feet. Socks are not recommended because you could slip during practice. Yoga mats are designed for bare feet and hands. As an example, if you are standing with your legs in a V, in socks your feet would be more likely to slip outward, which could end with you in the splits or, more likely, with a pulled muscle.
Come with an Empty Stomach
It is best to practice yoga on an empty stomach. When the stomach is full, movements such as forward folds, twists, and inversions are not very comfortable. As a general rule, you can eat a snack or light meal two hours before class or a large meal four hours before class. That will ensure you are most comfortable during the practice. Drinking fluids before class, however, is recommended to keep you hydrated.
Let Go of Judgment
The other students in your class will likely have a range of abilities. You may find that you feel self-conscious or insecure about how you are doing the poses. You may feel that you “look like a fool” from time to time. Please know that the other students are much more focused on their own practice and are not nearly as preoccupied about you as you might think. We are much more likely to be judging our own practice than that of others. That too, however, must be released. Each day your practice will be different. The poses will feel slightly different, you will be in a different mental and emotional place, and your body will respond to the practice differently as time goes on. Instead of placing judgment on your practice, simply notice what is happening in the moment as well as over time, and leave it at that.
Yoga will always be Practice
This is one of the most comforting, yet often overlooked aspects of yoga. You may find that your competitive nature comes out during yoga practice, but please remember that there is no final competition, no presentation, no “perfect” pose. You are practicing, and will always be practicing yoga. Let that notion help take the pressure off that you should be practicing in any particular way. Listen to the cues of your body, and keep practicing.