Beginning something new can be scary as hell! I walked into my first yoga class when I was 45 with no idea what to expect. I hadn't done any sort of consistent movement practice for at least 10 years, other than an occasional walk or hike. I ached all over and was in a really bad relationship with my body, and I was 45 for goodness sake! It felt awkward and weird and oh how I wished someone would have given me a guide ( think " What to Expect when Your Expecting, Yoga Edition).
So, here ya go, friends! Put on your comfy clothes, those clothes that make you feel strong and confident and head out to that first yoga class.
1. Arrive early.
Store your shoes and things in the provided cubbies or lockers. Check in with the teacher and grab your mat and any other things you need (more on that later) and pick your spot. Now, just settle in. There will probably be soft music playing, and ambient lighting, so take the opportunity to sit or lie on your mat and chill for a moment. This might be the first moment you have had to yourself all day!
2. Yoga Gear (BYOM).
Since Covid, most studios are not providing mats or other yoga props. Now don't go spend a lot, I find my best deals on mat at Marshall's or Home Goods. The studio where I teach is once again loaning blankets, blocks, straps and bolsters to students, but if you want your own props, I say start with blocks ( again check your local Home Goods) because they are super versatile and can be used in numerous ways. You might ask your studio just to be sure about what yoga gear you might need.
3. Breathwork and Centering.
The class will probably start with some sort of intentional breathing and tuning a little more inward. Changes in the breath can begin to quiet the nervous system and help us feel a little more focused and calm (there's that stress relief we are all looking for!) Your teacher may also guide you to notice sensations in your body and invite you to set an intention (How do you want to feel during your practice?)
Most Beginner Yoga Classes will take you through a series of foundational poses, often moving your from seated to kneeling to standing. Poses like Cat/Cow, Down Dog, Tree and the Warrior Poses will probably make an appearance. If your taking my classes, I will offer a lot of options and ways to use props like the blocks to make the poses accessible. I also add a little bit of strength training using body weight (cause as we age, we need strength for mobility and stability). But don't let that scare you, your practice, your choice.
At the end of your movement practice, there will be savasana, a time to rest for 5-10 minutes. I mean, I live for Savasana! Who doesn't want an uninterrupted five minutes?!
This is your time to lie still and notice what is happening in your body and to allow what you've experienced in class to be absorbed. You want to get comfy, so maybe add a blanket for covering up or bend your knees so your back isn't cranky. Your teacher will guide your through it and let you know when it is over.
P.S. This may be the hardest part of class. Our minds often get busy when our bodies get still OR you fall asleep and enjoy a little nap!
Many classes close by ringing a bell or chime, bringing hands to prayer and saying Namaste. Often the students repeat this after the teacher. Namaste, simply means, " I honor you." This is a way to acknowledge the connection with others in the class and our true selves.
So there you have it. It's a lot, I know. Don't worry about remembering everything on the list, the goal is just to feel a little more at ease, a little less apprehensive. Remember, yoga is a practice, it's an opportunity to get curious about yourself.
Registered Yoga Teacher, Menopause Doula, health and wellness explorer, self care expert focused on empowering women over forty with tools for loving the midlife journey