An Open Letter to all Those new to, or thinking about starting yoga. From a guy who was just there...

An open letter to all those new to, or thinking about starting yoga.  From a guy who was just there…

The first time you do anything, there’s usually a little bit of fear. What if the chute doesn’t open?  But the first time you do yoga doesn’t have to feel like that. To make sure that you know what to expect when you make it to your mat for the first time, I thought I’d give you a bit of a heads up on the 5 Things You Need To Know Before Your First Yoga Class.

Have I mentioned I was just there?

You Don’t Need a Mat:  

I mean, you do need a mat. But you don’t need your own mat. The studio has a large selection of mats to borrow. So, if the thing keeping you away from the studio is that you don’t have a mat, don’t fret. You don’t really need one. 

Now, when you DO want to get a mat…talk to you teachers. They’ve seen you practice and might be able to offer some insights on the best mat for you. I bought “The Big Mat” from Lululemon because…I’m big. In addition to the mat being a little big wider, it’s also significantly longer which means that when I’m lying flat, I don’t have to worry about my forehead and my toes being on the floor. 

My wife, however, wife hates my mat. It’s big and bulky, and weighs more than her. Pick that mat that’s right for you, and ask your teacher (and your wife) if they have an opinion.

Speaking of Toes:

What should be on them?  Usually…nothing. Shoes don’t let our feet do what our feet want to do. That’s why it’s not recommended to practice yoga in sneakers. In a pinch? Sure. But ideally you want to be barefoot. 

In the winter you may want to have socks handy though - a cozy savassana (where you lay down for about 5 minutes at the end of class and sometimes fall asleep) is heaven.

Speaking of Slipping… Let’s Talk Clothing:

There are a lot of options for what you can wear to a class. The majority of women wear yoga pants or tights. A few will wear shorts, but the vast majority wear yoga pants. 

Now fellas… what should you wear?

Well, I recommend a combination of yoga pants and shorts. When I first started practicing, I just wore shorts and there were a few “issues”…

First, you will more than likely sweat during your practice. As such, in shorts, you’re going to get very slippery, and being overly slippery can make your practice uncomfortable. Also, if you’re bald or shave your head very short, you may want to look into a skull cap., or bring a small towel. This will help stop sweat from getting in your eyes and all over your mat.

Secondly…ahem…There are some poses where your legs will be going certain directions, or a funny angle, and it would be best to make sure that everything is where it’s supposed to be.  Are you picking up what I’m laying down?  Boxer shorts are NOT a great idea for yoga. Boxer briefs or tights with shorts are a much better option for you and, let’s be honest, for everybody. 

Running Late:

Actually, you can’t. 

The studio typically opens up 30 minutes before class to give you a window to arrive, however, when class begins, the instructor closes and locks the outside door.  This protects everyone’s valuables, and gives a sense of focus to the class. This means that if you arrive after class has started, you missed it. 

Arriving 15 minutes before class will mean that you can grab a spot, maybe meditate a little, enjoy the quiet in the studio, hydrate and get ready for practice. If you’re anything like me, cutting it close leads to being stressed out, and that’s a bad way to start your practice.

So Fresh and So Clean:

I will often go directly from a yoga practice to a meeting, which is why the showers are such a great extra. If you need to get a quick clean in before heading back to the office, or wherever you’re headed, there is a shower onsite, and towels are provided for free.

Also, and this is really for everyone in the studio with a nose; try not to stink too badly before the practice starts.  There can be lots of bodies with varying degrees of body hair and perspiration…stink happens. Try to minimize the inevitable natural odours by starting fairly fresh.

In Summary:

These are just a few tips to help you enjoy your practice, so that you get the most out of it, because in the end, yoga should be enjoyed. And if you have questions about anything at all, the staff are always willing to chat. 

Enjoy, 

Mike Tanner