We love yoga, but between Sanskrit sayings, eclectic affirmations, unfamiliar poses and unspoken etiquette, your first class could make you feel like a foreign exchange student on another planet. Getting the inside scoop can help minimize rookie mistakes and make for a better experience. Here are 7 things every newbie should know before their first yoga class.
1. Your first class will feel like a solo game of Twister.
A common conundrum: Containing your less-than graceful movements on on a 72" x 24" rectangle. The first class or two (or three) can feel an awful lot like playing a game of Twister — minus the effortless balance and flexibility of your childhood self. Arrive early so you can scope out a spot where you'll be less likely to knock your neighbor.
2. Your teacher may be a bit, ahem, quirky.
From perma-grins to an affinity for astrology, chakra testing and Reiki healing, yoga instructors are known for having, shall we say, unique perspectives. Give a hippie-dippy instructor (and their prayer beads) the benefit of the doubt. You may find some wisdom in their worldview — and you can always seek out a new teacher with a more no-nonsense approach if you don't vibe with your first instructor.
3. Spandex will be the new norm.
Attending a yoga class without seeing a stream of cult yoga brand leggings walk through the door would be like visiting the Jersey Shore without seeing hair gel — it just doesn't happen. Resist the urge to blow your budget on pricey gear, but do ditch the slouchy sweats. Fitted apparel will make it easier to flow through the poses.
4. You may be asked to join a group sing-a-long.
Also known as chanting, these sing-songy mantras help you tune into the sound of the universe and connect with nature and other living beings. (Get ready to chant OM — a three-syllable word pronounced "Ah-Oh-EM.") Trust us, just go with it.
5. A strange man might grab your hips.
Yoga instructors love doing "assists" — adjusting your body with their hands to help you move into a pose, find balance, or achieve a new pose. Unfortunately, they have a habit of do this by sneaking up behind you when you least expect it. Try not to shriek.
6. Bodily noises are not only accepted, but they're also encouraged.
The yoga room is the only place where snoring, exaggerated sighs, and flapping horse lip exhales are socially acceptable. You'll be encouraged to share your breath, whatever that means. Let's just hope your neighbor brushed his teeth before class. All those silly sounds can make it tough to stay focused. You may wind up with a case of uncontrollable giggles — and that's OK, too.
7. You might get hooked.
You may catch yourself Googling yoga studios near your home, laying in supta baddha konasana to fall asleep, and Instagramming yourself in tree post on the subway platform with the hashtag #YogaEverywhere. Embrace the fact that you've discovered a fun way to feed your body and mind! This practice is addictive ... you've been warned.