We all have heard the many benefits to yoga, but if you’ve never been to a studio, taken a class, or learned the crazy language is that’s used in class, the sheer thought of just starting seems daunting. In this piece, I’ll demystify your first time in a class, while giving you step by step instructions on how to tackle your own mini-yoga flow to familiarize you with some basics. Now, get your mat and let’s get moving!
First, find a studio or class that interests you and choose a class that is geared towards beginners. Not all classes are suitable for beginners, so make sure to read the class descriptions ahead of time.
After you have selected a studio and class, now it’s time to figure out what you are going to wear. Since yoga is the type of fitness class that emphasizes movement of your body in all sorts of awesome ways, you want to be comfortable. Ideally, something a bit more form-fitting to avoid your shirt from getting in your way. Avoid anything too heavy like sweats, unless you are taking a gentle or restorative class. I also recommend bringing a light long sleeve in case you get cold towards the end of class or during your workout.
Upon arriving to your class, make sure you get there early (15 minutes works) to fill out any paperwork that maybe required, change if needed, stow your things, find parking, you know the drill. Introduce yourself to the instructor. Let them know you are new and if you have any injuries or limitations. I suggest setting your mat up somewhere in the middle of the room to allow for the best vantage point of other participants.
Don’t be afraid to say hi to the person next to you. Ask them about their practice, the studio, or even life. Yoga is all about building community and connections, so don’t be afraid of your neighbors.
If you are just not ready for a class or want to tackle some basics on your own, Sun Salutation A, also known in Sanskrit as Surya Namaskara A, is a sequence used to frame the early portions of most types of yoga classes. While there are many variations, it covers many poses that are called upon frequently during one’s practice. So this heating introductory flow is a great starting point for newer yogis and seasoned ones to incorporate when hitting their mats.
Start by standing at the top of your mat in what is known as Mountain Pose, or Tadasana. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, arms at your sides. Turn the palms to face forward and lengthen your fingertips by spreading them apart. Take 5 breaths here to settle into the space.
Inhale as you sweep your arms out to the side and overhead into your Upward Salute, or Urdhva Hastasana. Gaze toward the sky, then bring the hands to rest at your heart in prayer for one breath.
Repeat the sweeping of the arms upward, then exhale as you fold in half at the hips into a Standing Forward fold, or Uttanasana. Bend the knees if needed and rest your hands beside your feet while drawing your nose towards your knees.
Inhale as you lift your chest halfway, lengthening into a flat back. Shift your weight towards the fronts of your feet while keeping your finger tips on the floor or press your hands into your shin for Half-Standing Forward Fold, or Ardha Uttanasana.
Exhale as you step back into a plank pose with your hands directly beneath your shoulders and feet hip-width part. Inhale and shift your entire body forward so that you are on the fronts of your toes, and exhale as your lower your body to the ground for Four-Limbed Staff Pose, or Chaturanga Dandasana. Remember, as you lower, keep your elbows close to your body, almost as if your inner biceps are skinning your ribs.
Uncurl your toes for Cobra Pose, or Bhujangasana as you press the tops of the feet into the earth, inhaling as you draw your chest forward and straighten your arms. Relax the shoulders, letting them fall away from the ears and relax the glutes.
Re-curl the toes and exhale, while lifting the hips to Downward Facing Dog, or Adho Mukha Svanasana. Ground down through your hands and heels as you lift your sitting bones to the sky. Close your eyes or gaze through your knees for a cycle of 5 breaths while workings to lengthen your heels towards the earth (it’s ok if they don’t touch, but work to elongate those hamstrings).
Bring the feet to touch, and on an inhale, lift your heels, then bend your knees. Exhale as you walk your feet to meet your hands and repeat steps 2-7 about 10 more times.
Arielle Miller, Fabletics Master