1. Pick a Class

If you are new to yoga or if it’s been a while, start off with a beginner class if your schedule will allow it. You will meet other newbies and the class is designed with you in mind. However, all classes are open to all levels of experience. All classes include breath work, which is key to bridging the body, mind and spirit to work together. Each class ends with deep relaxation.

2. What to Wear

For yoga, appropriate attire includes loose, comfortable, active wear that won’t restrict your movement. You want your clothing to be loose enough for you to move in, but not so baggy that it gets in your way or that your teacher can’t see your form. A tank top and stretchy pants for women, and a t-shirt and elastic-waisted shorts for men should be perfect. You may also want to bring a long-sleeved layer, as it’s common to get cold at the end of a practice. Finally, it is customary to have bare feet during class. This is both so you don’t slip, and so that you can more firmly connect to the Earth beneath you.

3. Arrive 10 to 15 Minutes Early

Yoga is ultimately about slowing down and calming the nervous system. Therefore, start yourself off on the right foot by avoiding rushing and stressing yourself out by being late. We open the room about 15 minutes before the start time, so why not take advantage of a few extra minutes to learn the lay of the land, fill out the new student registration form (or print and fill out beforehand), pay for your class (we have a New Student Special: 30 days for $30, so be sure to tell your teacher it’s your first time), and to get yourself settled.

4. What to Bring into the Practice Space

Bring water if you want. That is it. We have plenty of yoga mats available for student use. It is not necessary to purchase a mat. An important piece of etiquette is that you silence your phone when entering the practice space, as your practice is a time to unplug and disconnect from technology.

You’ll also leave your shoes outside of the practice space, so just see what everyone else is doing and go with the flow. As you enter, find a spot where you can see the teacher well. Also, it is proper etiquette not to step on anyone else’s mat while you are in transit.

5. Unroll Your Mat and Get Some Props

Your mat should be unrolled so that the edges curl down toward the floor. Line the mat up with those of your neighbors so that you help to create organized rows (unless you are advised to arrange in a different orientation).

“Props” are the tools you can use to help accommodate for anatomical differences in your poses (i.e., arm length, flexibility, etc.), and include blocks (foam or cork), blankets, straps, sandbags, chairs, and bolsters (pillows). If you attend a class that provides props, simply ask the teacher which props you should get today, or see what everyone else has and get the same ones. The basic rule is that they should be used to bring more stability and ease-fulness to your poses. If you borrow a mat, please clean it after class with the disinfectant spray provided. It’s also important to put your props away neatly.

6. Communicating During Class

If you need to communicate with the teacher, try to do so before or after class. It’s common practice to tell your teacher before you begin if you have any injuries or are pregnant so he/she can provide you with proper modifications and guidance.

It’s also a good idea to let them know you’re a beginner! But once class starts, the proper etiquette is to remain quiet and attentive. If you’re in a situation where you feel confused or in danger, simply raise your hand or wave the teacher over so he/she can come to you.

7. Yoga Traditions You Can Expect During Class

The following are some common yoga traditions that you may encounter in your first public yoga class.

    ◦    Chanting Om: Many yoga classes begin and end the class by chanting the sound “Om.” This Sanskrit word is said to be the sound of creation, and helps to unite energy and bring sacredness to the practice.

    ◦    Child’s Pose: This pose is the most common and accepted “resting pose” in the physical practice, and is a good one for you to be familiar with for when you need to take a break. From your hands and knees, sit back on your heels and put your forehead on the floor with your arms outstretched or wrapped back around your legs. Feel comfortable taking this pose anytime.

    ◦    Savasana:  Pronounced sha-VAH-sah-nah, this is always the final resting pose in any yoga class. It can also be used in place of Child’s Pose during class if a break is needed. It translates to “corpse pose,” and while that might sound morbid, it simply represents the natural ending of the practice, and reminds us that everything in life happens in cycles. The pose is quite simple; you’ll lie on your back for a few minutes while the benefits of the practice absorb into your system.

    ◦    Namasté: The tradition at the beginning and/or end of any yoga class is for the teacher and students to say the word “Namasté” to each other. This word has many beautiful translations, but essentially means “I bow to the Divine in you.”

8. Make It a Routine

Sometimes the hardest part is making it to the studio in the first place! Once you’ve crossed the threshold, remember that the practice becomes even more effective once you’ve made it a routine.

At first, you can aim to go to a yoga class twice a week and see how you feel. You will likely notice an increase in strength, flexibility, calmness, and better sleep as a result. And don’t forget to relish the feeling of accomplishment for doing something new and good for yourself. You deserve it!


Adapted from an article by Karson McGinley