Yoga for beginners 101: How to prep for your first yoga class
Before we begin, let me address the elephant in the room. Are you too stiff to do yoga? No. That’s like saying you’re too dirty to take a shower.
Flexibility is a product of yoga, not a prerequisite
During my first few yoga classes, I couldn’t do much either. But that’s what kept me going. A basic forward bend made me learn that it’s not the flexibility that matters but the alignment of the body. I felt my hamstrings for the first time. My shallow purpose of just losing inches around the waist then shifted towards strengthening my ankle so that I could comfortably do prapadasana. I have to say that it saved me from unnecessary injuries that we attract by just walking on the streets.
Start by going to your nearest yoga studio
It is time that we start being logical about our bodies and sign up for the nearest yoga class for beginners. “Nearest” is important if you want to be a regular student. Being a part of a group inculcates a sense of discipline and motivation. It also helps you to look for ways to improve.
Prepare for your first yoga class
While your yoga teacher can help you be on point when it comes to poses, here are a few things you should keep in mind before you begin:
*Comfortable yoga clothing is a must
Invest in a good pair of sports bra and yoga pants. Play with prints and colours as much as you want.
*You can’t do without a yoga mat
Check with your studio if they provide yoga mats. If not, invest in one with a good grip. Having your own yoga mat is not only hygienic, but it also comes handy if you want to take your yoga practice outside the studio.
*You can’t fight the sweat…
Carry a soft towel and a bottle of water with you to class so that you’re hydrated throughout.
Study these basic yoga poses before you begin
The following yoga poses or asanas are the basic postures that you can study before going for your first yoga class. Keep in mind that whenever you hold an asana, you should breathe normally. The point is to be comfortable:
1. Rabbit pose or shashankasana
- Kneel on the floor and separate your knees
- With every exhalation walk with your palms forward, extending your spine and your arms
- Place your chest and chin on the mat making sure that your hips are still touching your heels
2. Child’s pose or balasana
- Kneel on the floor with your arms by the side of your body
- Extending your spine, place your chest on your quadriceps (front thigh muscles)
- Finally place your forehead on the mat.
3. Downward-facing dog or adho-mukha svanasana
- Kneel on the floor with your hands by the side of your face
- With an exhalation, straighten your legs so that the soles your feet are completely touching the mat
- At the same time, lower down your head so that it is placed in the middle of your arms
4. Upward-facing dog or urdhva-mukha svanasana
- Sit in balasana and extend your arms forward
- With an inhalation, slowly get up—your hands by your head—and push your pelvis forward towards the mat
- Make sure your butt muscles are contracted and your arms are straight while pushing your shoulders away from the ears
5. Crescent-lunge pose or anjaneyasana
- Start with a lunge with your right leg forward and left leg back. Make sure the toes of your left foot are turned inside
- Lift your left knee up (optional)
- Balance and lift your upper body up with your palms together in front of your chest, making sure the pelvic bones are in a straight line
- Inhale and extend the arms up by the side of your ears keeping the palms together
- Repeat this on the other side of the body
Remember, just showing up is half the battle
The hard part about getting dressed, dealing with traffic, and the worry about the pain you might experience is over. Now all that is left for you to do is just stand on the yoga mat and surrender yourself to the teacher. Pretty simple, huh?
Focus on letting go of your self-judgement and walk in with an open mind. “Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self…” – The Bhagavad Gita.