I have a list titled, “Be Brave”. And on this list, is a bunch of things I want to do but I’m scared — compete in a pole competition, parallel park, change careers. I work to move things off this list. I’ve crossed off running in different cities (I ran in Grenada!) and getting married.
Yoga was also on the “Be Brave” list.
I feared looking like an idiot in class. I was afraid people would giggle and whisper, “Bless her heart”. I feared having no idea what to do.
If the thought of going to a yoga class also frightens you, here is the Anxious Person’s Guide to Trying Yoga… Maybe.
The Anxious Person’s Guide to Trying Yoga, Maybe
First, try yoga at home
You won’t know if you’re doing the poses correctly. You won’t get help with your alignment. And you often won’t know how to modify the pose for your body. But, if you’re reading the Anxious Person’s Guide, you’re probably not just going to walk into a yoga studio. This may be your best first step.
You may feel more comfortable and less self-conscious at home. Before my first studio classes, I learned a lot of basic yoga. I used DVDs and now there is YouTube. You can learn that Mountain Pose is standing upright and Downward Dog is hands and feet on the ground, making a V shape with your body.
To be honest though, I didn’t really appreciate or understand yoga until I practiced with an instructor. And when people tell me that they want to get “into yoga”, I notice they are much more successful if they go to classes.
So let’s keep going and…
Ask a friend
You probably have a friend that is pretty excited about yoga.
We’re like that.
Ask your friends what studio they attend and why they like them. Each studio is different and there are many styles of yoga.
Ask who their favorite teachers are, and then…
Consider a private session or two
Now, the thought of a one-on-one session with a yoga instructor might be more anxiety-inducing than a group class. But if it isn’t, you can book private sessions to learn basic poses and alignments.
While more costly than group classes, a couple private sessions can give you a lot more confidence to walk into your first yoga class. Or, if you’re still on step one, they can help you build a solid at-home yoga practice.
Pick your first class
Read the class descriptions which will tell you the style of yoga and the pace. For example, it could be a fast-paced flow class in a heated room, or a quiet-paced restorative class. It will also state if the class is suitable for beginners, all-levels, or more advanced.
Some studios have a Yoga Basics or Foundations class that is specifically for beginners. The one I attended was low-key and a lot of fun. Ask your friend to come with you.
Before your first class
- If you don’t have a yoga mat, call or check the website to see if they have mats available to borrow or rent.
- Don’t eat a big meal beforehand. Just trust me.
- Arrive 15 minutes early to fill out paperwork and get settled.
- Let the teacher know it’s your first time and if you have any recent injuries. The teacher will know to give more basic names for poses like “plank” instead of its long Sanskrit counterpart. They will give more verbal cues. They will model the moves more. And no one else in the class will notice the difference.
- Take off your shoes and socks and place them in a wall-cubby or wherever everyone else is stashing their stuff.
- Find a spot in the middle of the room. It’s hard to see the teacher from the very back, but it’s nice to follow the people in front of you if you get confused.
- Ask if you’ll need any props. The studio typically provides yoga blocks, straps, blankets, and bolsters. Your teacher will let you know what you’ll need and how to use it, when the time comes.
During your first class
- You might end up in a class where they do a little chanting at the beginning or the end of class. It can seem a little weird at first. Follow along if you want, or stay quiet.
- Work with your body, not against it. Doing the less intense version of a pose is not bad, for beginners or pros.
- Some teachers physically aid students. If you are uncomfortable with it, just let them know.
Congratulate yourself for trying something new
Know that there are different teachers, studios, and classes. Some classes are simple stretches and flow sequences. Other classes are more spiritual with discussions of chakras and auras. If something rubs you the wrong way, try a different teacher, studio, or class. It took me many classes (some of which I hated!) to learn what yoga styles and teachers best benefited me.
You will be anxious for your first 5 (or 10) classes. You just will be.
Remember that signing up and showing up is the hardest part. And, start knocking those classes out.
Get them over with, so your anxiety can subside. Then you can cross yoga off your “Be Brave” list and reap the benefits of worry-free yoga with me.