Starting any new fitness routine can be intimidating. Yoga is no different. If you’ve been thinking about going to your first yoga class, but still have some hesitation, we’ve got you covered.

The biggest thing to keep in mind as you're starting out, and something we talk about a lot at Peerfit, is that group exercise is about community, not competition. It doesn’t matter what anyone else in your class can do. Maybe one day you can pull out all the poses like a pro, and maybe another day you can’t even touch your toes (we’ve all been there). All that matters as you are beginning your practice is that you find an instructor you trust, you focus on your breath, and you appreciate your body for whatever movements it is able to do that day.

So, don’t let the challenge of change prevent you from getting started or even continuing with regularity. Below are ten tips for anyone wanting to begin a yoga practice and get over the first time jitters:

Start at the beginning – Before signing up for your first few classes, be sure to read the class description. Make sure it says ‘suitable for beginners’, or is a Level 1 class. Sometimes all level classes can be too advanced, especially if it’s your very first class. 

Learning the poses, understanding the movement, and getting to know your body in this new way is much easier if you start with the basics.

Some beginner level classes to try: Hatha, Vinyasa, Anusara, Iyengar, Yin Yoga. Yin Yoga is especially good for those who prefer to remain seated or off their feet during their practice. 

Have an open mind – Remember that yoga is about your individual journey. Don’t get distracted or discouraged by the person next to you.  

Do a little research – Look up some basic poses online before attending class (even if you don’t do them until your class), to help give you peace of mind.

Attend more than one class – Try attending a minimum of 5 classes (at least once a week) to get a feel for what yoga is all about before making up your mind. Sometimes just showing up is all that matters, so grab your mat, don’t set expectations, and just show up. 

Don’t hesitate to try out different instructors to see whose style best reflects your goals - Every yoga teacher has a different style, type of music, and mood in their class. Don’t write off yoga based on one teacher style. The same goes for studios. A certain studio may not always be a good fit for you, so feel free to keep try out different ones until you find one that feels like home. To find different yoga classes offered in your area, you can find them here

Bring your own yoga mat if possible - It’s simply a healthier, and more convenient, choice. Environmentally friendly, chemical-free mats will last a decade or longer, and won’t give you a headache while practicing yoga. But, if you still aren’t sure if yoga is for you, check with the studio ahead of time to see if they have rental mats.

Drink plenty of water before, during and after class - Yoga is a natural detox, so it’s important to hydrate and rehydrate to feel refreshed after class. 

Be aware of your limitations - It is extremely important that your yoga instructor is aware of any personal injuries, surgeries, physical limitations or chronic issues you have, so that modifications can be presented when necessary. Consult your physician – especially if you have any concerns about injury prior to your first class. Once in class, remember that yoga should not cause pain in the body. If something doesn’t feel good, stop and rest.  Ask for adjustments or just take a break. Yoga is gentle, but if postures are not practiced with care, it is possible to incur injuries.

Dress for comfort - Wear longer, more form-fitting clothing so you don’t have to keep readjusting your shirt or pants in every new position. 

Have fun and be patient with yourself - Positive changes are waiting for you.

Bonus tip: It’s all about your breath. Yoga may be a series of poses, but the key to any yoga practice is the breath. So focus more on your teacher’s breath cues and less on perfecting your asanas (positions).

Namaste.

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