What keeps people from beginning a yoga practice? There are many reasons and we’ve heard them all. The images of men in loincloth twisted like pretzels and reciting Sanskrit compels our minds to tell us stories of I’m not flexible enough!, I’m not good enough!, or I don’t know what I’m doing!. While those thoughts may seem like rational excuses for not beginning a yoga practice, they aren’t the most common reasons. The most common reasons to not begin a yoga practice is it’s simply too unfamiliar and you don’t know where to begin.
Starting something new isn’t for the weak-minded. It takes courage to walk into a yoga studio—or any new space for that matter— and be the “new guy.” The new guy (gal) wants nothing more than to seamlessly blend into the mix of yogis without a misstep that will shift eyes. The good news is we’re here to help make your first yoga class a flawless experience. If you follow our insights on where and how to begin, what to know, and what to bring, you’ll walk into your first yoga class with only one thing left to do—yoga.
Please remember, at some point, everyone was new to yoga. It certainly takes some acclimating. However, yoga students around the world will tell you, the more you practice, the more comfortable you will become. Yoga is not a competition, and yoga studios are a judgment-free zone. There is no “finish line” in yoga. There is no prize for accomplishing the fanciest pose or for being the most flexible. To have a successful practice, all you have to do is attend a yoga class and be present with yourself.|
Reasons to begin a yoga practice
There are various reasons people begin a yoga practice. Depending on your personal needs, there is a variation of yoga that best suits your goals. Here are the common reasons people begin a yoga practice, paired with possible practices to fit those needs:
- Stress: If your nervous system is heightened, a more calming yoga practice with slower breathing techniques like Ignite’s Zen or Meditate class will help you access more of your parasympathetic nervous system. This is a great yoga class for beginners. Zen moves slowly, and it provides the opportunity to learn the names of the postures before moving on to a faster-paced asana. Furthermore, these classes incorporate meditation, which will support the decompression of your nervous system.
- Back Pain: The ever-present struggle with back pain brings many aspiring yogis into yoga studios across the globe. It makes sense…not only does yoga stretch the low back with forward folds and twists, but it also strengthens the core and back…much of which takes place in a Power Yoga class. Even a gentle Zen class at Ignite is going to take you into some juicy forward folds that will have your back feeling relieved. A good balance of strengthening the core and stretching the posterior chain is recommended only after a doctor’s clearance to exercise has been provided. Once you have clearance, personally have a conversation with a teacher at your local studio as to what classes are appropriate for your healing process.
- Get in Shape: Another big reason people begin yoga is because of the rigor some practices provide. A hot power class is no joke! Power classes are recommended to intermediate practitioners who have some yoga background, due to the fact that the practice is physically challenging and often moves quickly. The majority of studios you visit will offer a power vinyasa, Hatha, Bikram, or some variation of a heat-building class. Yoga is known to strengthen and lengthen muscles and build joint strength. Ignite’s Power class will elevate your heart rate and provoke a sweat pouring, purifying experience. Yoga not only supports the physical fitness of your body, but also your mind and spirit.
What should I bring to yoga class?
- A Yoga Mat: Your “home base”—a space you can return to within a yoga studio or at home. While most yoga studios have mat rentals available, eventually you’ll want to purchase your own mat that fits your yoga practice style. If you’re a power practitioner, you’ll want an extra-grippy, sweat-absorbing mat like lululemon 5mm mat, or Mankuka Pro + a yogi toes towel. If you’re a gentle practitioner or meditator, any mat will do as long as you’re comfortable on it. Additionally, you can use your mat as a space to stretch, relax, read a book, or lay out in nature.
- Water: Even if you’re in a gentle yoga class, it never hurts to have a water bottle nearby to stay hydrated. We suggest something with a lid to prevent accidental spillage when moving around in your yoga practice.
- Sweat Towel: Power class = sweaty class. You’ll want a towel to wipe the sweat from your brow. It’s an empowering feeling to work that hard and to sweat that much that you need to wipe the sweat away. We suggest lululemon ‘The Small Towel’ or Alo Yoga ‘No Sweat’ Towel.
- An Open Mind: Yoga is different in the best of ways. Your experience in any yoga class will be elevated if you drop the expectations of yourself and the practice. There may be many things unfamiliar but there’s a reason this practice has been around for thousands of years. An open mind will only help you receive the plentiful benefits of a regular practice.
What should I not bring to yoga class?
- Cell Phones: Unless there’s an emergency or you’re on-call, please leave your cellphone behind. Cellphones are designed to stimulate your mind and hold your attention to the screen for as long as possible, creating an addictive experience. Your yoga practice is the time to disconnect from the stimulation and provide rest for your brain. Cellphones are also a distraction to fellow students and the instructor with their lights, noises, and your disengagement from a practice that everyone has committed to partake in. Instead, use your time on your mat to detox from technology. If you do need your cellphone, please speak with the instructor ahead of class so they can be aware of your needs.
- Shoes: In most yoga studios, there is a request to leave shoes at the door. Because we touch and put our mats on the floor, we want the floors clean and dirt-free. Plus, removing clutter from the yoga room allows you to fall deeper into your yoga practice.
- Belongings: Bags, phones, keys, changes of clothes…all that can be left in the lobby area of most studios. As mentioned before, a clutter-free environment allows the mind to stay clutter-free. Usually, studios have a protocol in place to keep your belongings safe. At Ignite, we lock the front doors while classes are in session.
Yoga tips worthy of mention:
- Limit food intake roughly two hours before your yoga class. Because of twists and forward folds, your digestion may be impaired and made uncomfortable. If you need to nourish before movement, try a light snack instead of a big meal.
- Wear garments that accommodate your yoga practice. If you’re taking a power class, you’ll want to wear something form-fitting to avoid dangling clothes and pant legs to trip on. If you’re taking a more gentle or meditation class, more loose-fitting garments may be appropriate as you won’t be moving as vigorously. Comfy sweat pants and a sweatshirt can even provide added comfort for your Zen class.
- Use the bathroom before class. A full bladder can be very distracting. However, if you do need to go…quietly exit the yoga room to take care of your needs. You are never stuck in the practice room nor forced to stay. We want you at your most comfortable when you practice!
- Arrive early. Most yoga studios run with minimal staffing and therefore lock the front doors upon the start of each yoga class. Late-comers are often not permitted into class because of the disruption it causes to the students in the yoga room. It requires the yoga instructor to pause their teaching and leave the room, further delaying the start of class for everyone. If you are new to yoga, it’s especially important to arrive early so that you may fill out any required paperwork.
- Still nervous? Go Virtual. For some, it may still be overwhelming to begin a yoga practice. But have no fear! We still have you covered. Virtual Yoga is now being offered more than ever. Here at Ignite, we offer a 2-week free trial to our Ignite Yoga Virtual Studio as well as free practices on our YouTube channel. This allows you to attend yoga without all the worries and at your convenience. Monthly memberships to Ignite’s virtual yoga studio offer unlimited live and recorded meditation and yoga classes. Basically, yoga is now available at your fingertips!
This post answers all of our frequently asked questions and things we have discovered over the years as practitioners. Read thoroughly before attending your first yoga class, and your mind will be put at ease. Yoga is a beautiful ancient practice that has brought peace, strength, and wisdom to thousands of people over thousands of years. Every practitioner has had to start somewhere. One of the many benefits of modern-day yoga is the evolution of technology bringing the ancient practice to the practitioner. The internet is full of answers to questions you have before beginning your yogic journey. And of course, you have an abundant supply of yoga teachers who love to get new students started on their yogic path. Yoga gives you countless options and opportunities to explore what works and doesn’t work for you. Dayton, Ohio alone has multiple yoga and fitness studios that are bound to have what you’re looking for. The options for growth, strength, and opportunity to learn about yourself are at your disposal when you begin your yoga journey. You’re never too old, too inflexible, too serious, or too busy to begin your own practice. A whole community of yogis is here to welcome you on your new journey to wellness and light.