Teach Me How To Yoga: The First-Timer’s Guide
In the midst of the hustle + bustle of the busiest time of the year [classes beginning, weekend trips, + end of summer plans], it’s sometimes difficult to find the time we need to decompress + unwind. As our schedules become more hectic, our workouts + mental health are often pushed to the back burner — two things we need most when our schedules are crazy.
We encourage you to make the time for you + your workouts, despite your busy schedule. One of our favorite ways to unwind is coming to our mats + practicing yoga. Never been? No worries!
#1] RESEARCH THE STUDIO
Just as every CHAARG girl is unique, so are yoga instructors + studios. While some studios air on the *traditional* side [i.e. keeping it quiet, using Sanskrit terms], others bring in modern elements to their classes — like playing modern music or even bringing in a DJ! Researching the studio will help you understand what to expect + how to act before, during, + after class.
#2] EAT + STAY WELL-HYDRATED THROUGHOUT THE DAY
During class, you may experience temps up to 100 degrees [if you opt for hot // Bikram yoga!] But no matter the class you choose, make sure you walk in well-nourished + hydrated. You’ll be continuously moving + holding poses for a full 60-90 minutes — this means you need to prepare your body by fueling it with a healthy snack.
#3] PACK THE ESSENTIALS
We recommend wearing pants to class — but do what’s most comfortable for you. Make sure to bring a yoga mat + towel [or two!] — studios often charge to use their equipment. A water bottle is an absolute must ++ a headband is helpful to keep sweat out of your eyes + prevent future breakouts. If you are taking a hot yoga class, we recommend wearing layers!
#4] LEAVE YOUR PHONE IN YOUR PURSE
Fight the temptation to bring your phone into the studio. This is your time for you, not the outside world. Plus — it’s just polite ; )
#5] GO IN WITH NO EXPECTATIONS
Since this is a brand new experience, go into it without expectations + enjoy the new experience!
#6] YOU WILL HEAR A LOT OF DEEP *YOGA BREATHING*, OR UJJAYI BREATH
Yoga breathing, or ujjayi breath, is a way of breathing to reap the most benefits from your practice. This breath through the nose is slower + deeper than your *everyday* breath — which helps keep you calm + focused on the moment.
#7] YOUR INSTRUCTOR MAY CALL OUT POSES IN SANSKRIT
Sanskrit is the native language for yoga + instructors will often use these terms for poses rather than the *Americanized* term. Here are a few basics to listen for:
— Asana: Seated
— Tadasana: Mountain Pose
— Balasana: Child’s Pose
— Chaturanga: High-to-Low Plank
— Savasana: Final Resting Pose//Corpse Pose
#8] THE INSTRUCTOR MAY LEAD THE CLASS IN CHANTS
Chanting is a part of the traditional practice of yoga. Depending on the studio you attend, chanting may be involved. Do not feel pressured to participate if it feels uncomfortable or unnatural. Do what feels best for you + take a resting pose if you’re not feeling up for it!
#9] YOU MAY BE GIVEN HANDS-ON ASSISTS FROM YOUR INSTRUCTOR // ASSISTANTS TO HELP CORRECT ALIGNMENT//DEEPEN YOUR POSES
Your instructor will likely introduce this to the class + will honor anyone’s request not to be touched during the practice. Don’t be shy to share your preference!
#10] YOU MAY GET EMOTIONAL
Yoga is very cathartic, often leading to you experience #allthefeels. Some tears may happen — that’s ok! Accept + honor your body’s natural reaction.
#11] EACH POSE WILL LOOK DIFFERENT ON EACH PARTICIPANT
Your natural alignment is unique to you, which means some poses will look different on you than it does on others. This doesn’t mean you’re doing the pose incorrectly, but if you’re unsure, don’t be afraid to ask the instructor.
#12] EVERY CLASS ENDS WITH SAVASANA
Lying on your back for 2-5 minutes may seem like a waste of time, but this pose is just as important as the others! Do not skip Savasana — it is the optimal time to soak in the benefits of your practice + help your body cool down.
#13] EVERY TIME YOU COME TO YOUR MAT WILL POSE A NEW CHALLENGE
Maybe breathing is difficult today, your balance is off, or you can’t hit a pose that you thought looked easier than it actually was. Try your best not to let this frustrate you + don’t make judgements. Recognize the truth + move forward.
#14] REMEMBER THAT EVERYONE IS AT A DIFFERENT POINT IN THEIR PRACTICE
For the days you were hoping to hit a headstand but couldn’t or wobbled in your poses with shaky balance, remember that those days happen + you will improve with practice. Comparing yourself to your fellow yogis is not the way to deepen your practice — the only way to do so is to continue coming to your mat.
#15] POST-YOGA BLISS
What now? Take this time to reflect on your practice. Simply recognize how you felt + why you may have felt that way, without judging yourself. Stay dedicated to your practice by using your mat as a space alleviate stress + gain a deeper sense of self.
Any moment spent on your mat is time well spent. Namaste.
+xo Natalie [@natalie_inchaarg], VirtCHAARG // Grand Rapids