If you’re new to yoga, you’re probably curious and maybe a bit confused about your first yoga class and wondering what to expect. The first thing to understand is that there are a variety of yoga traditions along with many different styles of yoga so it’s no wonder that it might a bit confusing. Don’t’ worry though because after each time you come into a class you might be surprised at how comfortable you begin to feel. Another aspect that you will notice is that each class will vary depending on the instructor, music (or lack of music), rhythm of class, etc. That said, there are some common elements to many yoga classes.
Centering & Intention
We usually start off with a centering practice, such as focusing on the breath or development of awareness while in a relaxation pose or seated meditation. Some teachers might suggest that you “set an intention for your practice.” This is just a suggestion for you look inside and check in to see if there is something you might need for your class. For instance, your intention might be to breathe with awareness throughout class; calm the nervous system; be open to the teachings; or offer up your practice to your highest Self or God. Some instructors might even ask you to ask yourself “Why yoga..why today?”. These first few moments are very personal and totally optional.
It’s really important to warm the body! Warming up helps prevent injury, makes stretching more enjoyable, and can help burn off desires and unhelpful thoughts. So any active class you take will likely feature a decent warm up, usually involving sun salutations. Every yoga tradition usually has it’s own variation of the sun salutation but, in a nutshell, sun salutations are a short series of postures that are repeated in the same order a few times. For the more gentle and restorative classes you might find a different warm up than the vinyasa flow movements. And if you take our Yin Yoga which is offered at different times of the year, you DON’t want to warm up the body as it is a different style of yoga that targets joints rather than muscles.
Savasana (Final Relaxation)
Classes can start many different ways, but yoga classes everywhere always end with of savasana (corpse pose). It is considered one of the most important poses. All you have to do is lay down, close your eyes, slow the mind, relax the body. Savasana can help you settle your energy and absorb the benefits of your yoga practice. We like to think of it this way: each postures is similar to that of a file being downloaded into a computer. Savasana is like hitting the ‘save’ button before you leave. It might take a while for you to learn how to close your eyes and relax in savasana, or it might come naturally – either way, when you allow yourself to relax, you are more receptive to your highest Self.
Some Tips For Your First Class