Walking into a yoga studio for the first time is intimidating. I know – I’ve done it plenty of times! And I’ll let you in on a wild little secret: it doesn’t get less intimidating, even now that I’m a teacher.
The general flow of class
I like to think of yoga classes as a big arc. They start slow and calm, build in intensity and challenge, and then let you back down into a resting pose.
You’ll set up your mat in the room and gather any props you need. Most studios like to keep the room somewhat quiet and still for clients prior to class, so now is not the time to work on your pushups or handstands…once you find your spot, settle into a comfortable seat or even just lay down.
Many teachers will have you start in Child’s Pose, laying down, or seated on your mat with some quiet time. As class progresses you’ll start to move, slowly at first, to build heat in your body and muscles. Classes range from 45 to 90 minutes and gradually getting more challenging, up to a peak pose or series, then taper back off to end with some final stretches and a resting pose at the end.
Savasana (corpse pose) closes almost every class, and this is a time to truly rest and restore. Don’t worry – the teacher will keep track of time and let you know when class is over. Once class is over, I encourage you to take your time getting up and gathering your things to head back out into everyday life.
Having a great first class at a studio isn’t that hard, and it starts before you even walk in the door.
Know what you’re signing up for.
Make sure you understand what kind of class you’re booking. What kind of experience are you looking for? Do you want a workout or more of a restful practice with some stretching? Do you want to sweat? Do you want there to be music? All of these are important as you choose what type of class you take…more on that in this post.
Check the fine print.
Check the website to see what you’ll need to bring, wear, and leave behind. Most studios have an FAQ section on their website – this is a great place to start!
If you’ve got your own mat that you like, bring it along. If not, most studios provide mats for free or for a small fee.
Wear clothes that are comfortable that you can move in. Dressing in layers is always a good idea!
Bring a bottle of water and leave your cell phone on silent either in your car or in the lobby. Seriously, you’re probably going to yoga to relieve stress and disconnect, why bring your cell phone along?
Make yourself at home.
Arrive at least 15 minutes before class. AT LEAST. Nothing puts me on edge more than a new client walking in just a minute or two before class starts. Plenty of studios will actually lock their doors a couple of minutes prior to class.
When you arrive; inform the teacher of any injuries or limitations you may have. Most studios will have you fill out some paperwork and ask you about prior injuries or surgeries. Here’s the thing: as a teacher at quite a few studios, I see so many different things put on that paperwork, and what matters the most is what might impact your workout or your practice that day. While it may ask for surgeries, I don’t think there’s a huge need to put down your wisdom teeth being removed ten years ago if all is well now, but I’ve had clients not mention that they’re coming back from broken bones or a pregnancy. Those are the kind of conditions teachers want to know about
Along those lines, be clear on whether or not you want to be touched in class. Many teachers offer hands on adjustments to ensure you are in proper form and help you fine tune your posture in each pose. If you prefer not to be touched (for any reason – there’s no need to explain) simply say to the teacher, “By the way, I prefer not to receive hands on adjustments, if that is part of your teaching.”
Last but not least…
Go to the bathroom before class starts! Take care of anything else that could cause you to leave the room during class. I said it before and I’ll say it again: put your phone on silent. Leave it outside the yoga room. Heck, leave it in your car if you can.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask the teacher if you’ll need any props, what the general flow of class is, where the bathroom is, etc. A great teacher will tell you all of these things, but you never know – sometimes things happen that keep teacher from doing so, like another new less prepared client!