Maybe you heard from a friend that they feel great since they started going to yoga. There are all those New Year’s Resolution friends in the office bragging about how great their clothes fit and they are sleeping better. Just because it’s not the New Year any more isn’t any reason not to give it a try. It’s easier than you think.
Step 1: Start with a Beginner’s Class (Even If You’re Not a Beginner)
Basics are so important. It’s key to walking away with a positive first impression. Some of the descriptions of the other classes offered won’t resonate with you anyway, trust that.
You might be surprised to hear that even people like me that have practiced for 35+ years still love going to beginner’s classes. I like the level of instruction and I keep dropping bad habits I’ve picked up along the way.
Focus in class. Use the time to work on settling the mind, moving with extreme intention, and maintaining a meditative mindset.
There’s a blurry line between beginner and intermediate yoga, and that’s intentional. The best person to tell you what level you’re at is (surprise!) you. Choosing the best yoga class comes down to you feel about it. Do you feel like the class is manageable but challenging? Or do you feel more lost than others in the class?
Huge Tip (I wish someone would have told me when I started):
Get to class early and introduce yourself to the teacher. It’ll be easier for them to teach you if they know you are a beginner. It’s also important that you let your instructor know about any health conditions or injuries. That way they can modify poses for you throughout class.
While it’s ultimately your responsibility to keep yourself safe by listening to your body, your teacher is also there to help, so give them the information they need.
Speaking of the instructor…
Step 2: Choose an Instructor You Connect With
Going to your first class should be about finding a teacher you connect with, regardless of the style. Look for a teacher who will listen to you and offer feedback on your practice.
Look for a teacher that talks to you in a way that makes you feel GREAT about coming to class – but they should also challenge you. (mentally and physically – so you grow). They should offer you a practice that meets you where you ARE, not where you think you need to be. They are a guide. They learn just as much from you as you do from them. It’s a beautiful relationship. Like any relationship, a healthy one is where people feel great in each other’s presence. This is a internal and external practice. They instructor should be wise and caring and professional. Mentors and teachers are priceless – and they should give you all you need to carry on to self-study and practice.
Step 3: Feel Out Different Studios
Before you commit to a studio, drop in for an introductory class, or even just stop by and talk with the people hanging around. There are lots of variety when it comes to yoga studios, so it’s best to get a feel for your options in person.
Sample the class recommended by that yoga-loving colleague (or the ones you found on Google that are within a seven-minute distance to get to. Studies show if it’s hard to get to you won’t go back). Most have a one-time drop in fee but almost all that I know of give you your first class free to try.
Something to Think about:
A studio with a good community can deepen your experience. Practicing with others is a wonderful part of yoga. A part of this process is about engaging in your life, and life for most of us would be much emptier without a community.
Here are some important questions to ask yourself to figure out the best kind of yoga community for you:
- How social do you want to be? Do you want to chat with people from your class, or do you want to run in when you have the time, take the class, and then leave? Studios with a restaurant or coffee shop attached tend to be more social, while studios advertising short lunch-hour classes are more businesslike.
- Are you interested in learning more about things like meditation, body-work, nutrition, or natural health? If you aren’t, and you want to take traditional fitness classes too, you might be better off taking classes at a gym than at a dedicated yoga studio.
- Do you want spirituality to be part of your practice? Some instructors only teach asana (the physical postures for exercise), while others include chanting and reflections on ancient yogic texts.
Accessibility and community are important factors for to consider when choosing a studio but if you want to keep your long-term yoga future in mind, make sure to also choose a studio that offers a wide range of classes. As your practice grows, you’ll eventually want to try more challenging classes or target parts of your practice you feel are lacking.
No Studios Nearby? I’ll write an upcoming post about the growing world of online yoga class. Stay tuned…
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Also, I love getting to know you better – drop me a line and let me know if you have any questions. Namaste ~Tweet