Preparing for Your First Yoga Class: 15 Essential Things to Know and Expect

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Lifevif Team and JC Franco

Are you ready to move your Yoga practice from your living room to an actual class? You might feel that you are ready to join a class, but the prospect might also be a bit daunting. Before you confidently set foot into a Yoga studio for the first time, you simply need to ensure that you know what to expect.

Of course, before attending your first Yoga class, you need to choose your studio wisely. You might want to do a little research into what type of Yoga studios are in your area, just to make sure that you end up attending classes in an environment that’s comfortable for you. For instance, some studios are heated to over 100 degrees, and some studios dedicate more attention to high energy “power yoga” instead of a gentle and spiritual approach. Choose carefully.

Once you have chosen your studio, you are all set to go. Here’s what to expect while attending your first Yoga class.

These are 15 things to know (and expect) for your first Yoga class:

1. The classes are different (styles and difficulty level).

If you randomly select a class, you might be unpleasantly surprised. Yoga classes come in various styles and difficulty levels. If you inadvertently sign up for an advanced power Yoga class for your first class, you might feel overwhelmed. 

Make sure that your very first step, after choosing a studio, is to select a class that suits your particular Yoga style and of course, your difficulty level. If you are new to Yoga, join an absolute beginner’s class. You will appreciate the solid foundation that a beginner’s class can give you.

2. You should get to class at least 15 minutes early.

Arriving early is quite important. If you arrive on time for your first class, you might find everyone already in their spots. You will undoubtedly feel quite on-the-spot if you have to walk in and make yourself comfortable when everyone is there. 

To avoid being flustered and rushed, most Yogis will arrive at least 15 minutes early. This provides enough time to choose a good spot on the floor, lay out your mat, introduce yourself to others, and communicate any injuries or health issues that you have to your instructor. 

3. You will experience standard Yoga traditions.

In your first Yoga class, you will experience or witness several Yoga traditions in action. These may seem strange to you at first, but as you get used to them and start to understand them, they will feel more natural. Some of these traditions are:

  • Chanting “Om”: most classes will begin and end with the chanting of “Om”, which is a sound more than it is a word. In Sanskrit, it is thought to be the actual sound of creation. Yoga instructors will teach you that it is said to unify energy and bring a sacred value to the practice of Yoga.
  • Savasana: you will experience this at the end of the class. It is the final pose called the resting pose or “corpse pose”. It is symbolic of the circle of life and denotes the natural end of the session. For this pose, students typically lie on their mats on their backs for several minutes and simply relax in silence. 

4. There is Yoga etiquette to follow.

In your first class, you won’t be completely aware of all of the Yoga “manners” to use just yet, but it’s a good idea to have some understanding. During class, you will notice that students behave in a certain respectful way, and that is Yoga etiquette. Some etiquette that you need to be aware of is:

  • Shoes and socks are removed before entering the Yoga space.
  • Mats are unrolled and laid out facing the instructor.
  • Communicating injuries is done before class and not during class.
  • Students don’t leave during the final corpse pose – this is considered rude.
  • Students and instructors bowheads, clasp hands, and say “Namaste” before and after each class. This means “I honor you” and is a sign of well-wishes and respect.

5. Students communicate with the instructor.

Most students will communicate with the instructor before and after the class. During the class, there is a general silence to be reserved. However, if your instructor knows beforehand that you have a knee or wrist injury and that poses need to be modified for you, she/he can approach you during classes and help you to position your body correctly. Clear communication is required for this to happen. 

6. You need a Yoga mat of your own.

Here’s the thing, not all Yoga mats are made equal. It’s recommended that you get a good quality mat with decent padding so that you can feel comfortable during your first class and so that you can practice at home. While most students bring their own mat for their first class, some studios do have spare mats for students to use if they forget theirs or are just trying out classes first to see how they feel.

7. Wear the right Yoga-friendly clothing.

You will notice in your first class that all the other students are wearing similar outfits. Yoga requires comfortable, form-fitting clothing. You can wear a tank top or shirt, and Yoga pants or shorts – whatever is comfortable for you that doesn’t restrict movements. Before your first Yoga class, you might want to buy a pair of Yoga pants, so that you don’t stand out and so that you are absolutely comfortable too. 

8. Take some water and a towel.

In a Yoga class, all the students should have their own towel and water bottle. You probably don’t know this yet if you have never tried Yoga before, but the practice can be quite physically exhausting. You can expect to get quite hot and sweaty during your first class. You can use your towel for handling sweat, and you can keep hydrated by taking small sips throughout the class.

9. Breathing is vitally important.

If you are the only newbie to the class, you might notice that everyone else is breathing in unison deeply while you seem to be holding your breath during each pose. This is normal. As you learn to watch and follow breathing patterns, it will start to feel more natural. The breathing methods used help students to get into the right mindset as well as maintain balance while carrying out the poses and stretches. 

10. You won’t get all of the poses right immediately; mastering poses takes time.

During your first Yoga class, you will learn a variety of new poses or positions to transition between. These all have fairly easy-to-remember names. It will take some time for you to master any of these poses. 

It is essential to take the time to truly focus on what the instructor is showing you and get the physical stances perfected. This may take a few classes to get right, and you should practice at home in between lessons to improve on your technique and strength. 

11. Your fitness levels don’t matter.

One thing that many first time Yogis notice is that a class is packed with people of all fitness levels. While Yoga is a workout, it is aimed at muscle toning and strengthening and not sheer cardio. This means that anyone of any fitness level can participate.

12. The instructor will adjust your poses/positions.

When you first attend Yoga, you might notice that the instructor walks around the room and physically helps to reposition student’s stances/poses. This is to help the student correct their form and avoid possible strain or injury. If you are uncomfortable with this, let your instructor know before the start of the class.

13. You will need to get on board with “Namaste”.

You won’t be used to saying “Namaste”, but it is something that all the other students will be doing in class. “Namaste” is something that is said before and after a class, and while it is a sign of respect, it also binds all the students together.

14. Child’s pose is your saving grace (relax mode).

In your first class, you will be taught the Child’s Pose quite early on. Child’s pose is a type of relaxation pose that allows the body to relax and release any tension or strain. If you feel tired or sore at any stage during the class, simply go into Child’s Pose to relax and regroup before joining the class again.

15. You may experience after-class stiffness and muscle strain.

Not many people attending their first Yoga class expect to feel sore afterward, but most of them do. Yoga is a full-body workout, and if you aren’t used to the exercise (the poses will be foreign to your body), you will feel some stiffness and muscle strain. Just remember to stretch after class and the next morning. The more you practice, the less muscle strain you will feel. 

Book Your First Yoga Class – What Have You Got to Lose!

If you are ready to join a class and stop attempting Yoga in the living room, now is the time to book your first class. The points above will help you to know what to expect! Namaste.

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who share their experiences and knowledge about the "Seven F's of Life".

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco is a New York-based editor for Lifevif. He covers topics like spirituality, philosophy, finance, sports, games, and food. JC earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business with a Marketing Concentration at Mercyhurst University. He is a certified USPTA professional who teaches tennis in the New York City Metropolitan area. He has passed the Level I exam of the CFA program.