Yoga for Beginners: The Do’s and Don’ts of Yoga

yoga for beginners

Coming to a public class at a yoga studio can at times be intimidating and stressful. Especially for beginners who’ve never been to a yoga class before.

  • “What should I wear?”
  • “Should I bring a water bottle?”
  • “What do I do with my phone?”
  • “Should I keep my socks on?”

These may be a few of the questions you’re asking yourself before going to yoga. No worries, here are a few tips that will help you come to your yoga class more prepared and relaxed.

Some Things that You Should Do in Yoga

1. Hydrate Yourself Throughout the Day

If you have a yoga class planned, sip water throughout the day. You shouldn’t down an entire bottle right before a yoga class as you don’t want a full bladder to distract you.

It is generally discouraged to drink water throughout a yoga class unless you practice Bikram or Hot Yoga. In that case, do have a bottle with you because you’ll be losing lots of liquids due to the heat.

If you’re not sure what to do, just check what the other students are doing. If they are leaving bottles by their mats, their yoga teacher is likely OK with that.

2. Consult Your Physician

Yoga generally is a safe and beneficial activity. That is as long as it’s practiced mindfully. However, for beginners, it may be hard to gauge what exactly they should watch out for.

Moreover, yoga is often dubbed as a cure-all that can’t harm you. Many practice it from their ego ignoring safety instructions and how their bodies are feeling. Therefore, despite its many benefits for the body and mind, there is an increasing number of yoga-related injuries. So, you still need to be careful.

Keep in mind that you should always consult your doctor before you engage in any physical activity. Especially if you have prior injuries or health conditions.

3. Let Your Yoga Instructor Know about Any Injuries or Health Conditions

You should inform your yoga teacher about any injuries and health problems. Also, notify them if you’re pregnant. Some instructors ask about that before the class, but, even if they don’t, come up to them and let them know.

A part of a yoga teacher’s job is providing modifications and correcting students’ alignment. They can unintentionally hurt you if they don’t know about your medical issues.

If your teacher has assistants, notify them, too, as they’ll probably be the ones giving the hands-on adjustments.

4. Find Your Edge

Observe your body and find your edge. Push yourself enough so that you keep progressing, but not too hard or you may risk hurting yourself.

It may take a while until you find this perfect balance. That’s because it takes time for us to learn how to reconnect with our bodies.

Keep in mind that, generally, mild discomfort in the muscles is OK. Sharp pain or pain in the joints is not. Gently and slowly back off if you experience the latter.

5. Be Gentle to Yourself During Periods

Yoga during your period can actually be great as it can relieve pain and discomfort. Yet, take things easy. Perhaps, attend a Hatha, Restorative or Yin Yoga class instead of a more rigorous one.

Traditionally, it’s advised to skip inversions during periods. Modifications, such as Legs-Up-The-Wall, are often encouraged instead.

However, it’s your practice. Pay attention to how your body feels and do what feels right for you at that moment.

6. Dress Comfy

Wear something comfortable, breathable and stretchy that will neither constrain your movement nor get in the way.

You can pack loose and light clothing if you are going to slow-paced classes like Hatha or Yin. However, if you intend to attend a more active class such as Vinyasa or Ashtanga, opt for a pair of leggings, a fitting top, and a comfortable sports bra.

It’s not about looking pretty, but making sure you don’t get distracted by needing to constantly tuck in your shirt during inversions. Or even worse – hurt yourself by falling because you got caught in the leg of your pants.

Formfitting clothing also makes it easier for instructors to assess your alignment.

If you know you’ll get chilly during Savasana, grab a hoodie or a sweater.

7. Take a Shower before Class

In yoga, the principle of saucha is cleanliness inside and out. If you can, get a shower before you come to a yoga class. It will freshen you up and show respect toward your teacher and fellow students as strong body odor can be very distracting.

8. Leave Your Shoes at the Door

As another way of practicing saucha, take your shoes off before you step into the yoga room. You’ll be doing plenty of work close to the floor, and I bet you’d like it to be clean. Leaving the shoes by the door will ensure that all the dirt and germs will remain there, too.

If you’re feeling cold, keep your socks on as you come in and take them off when the class begins. Or choose non-slip yogi socks that you can wear throughout your practice.

9. Take a Break when Needed

I know, Downward Dog doesn’t always feel like a resting pose. So, if at any point during your yoga class you feel like you need to rest in Child’s Pose, listen to your body and go for it.

Don’t worry about how long of a time you spend in Child’s Pose. It’s your practice.

10. Put Away the Props after the Yoga Class

If you practice at a studio and use any of its equipment such as a mat, blocks, belts, or bolsters, be sure to put everything back after the class. That shows respect not only to the staff, but also the students who are going to practice there after you.

A Few Things that You Shouldn’t Do in Yoga

1. Arrive Late

Teachers plan each class beforehand. Missing parts of it may prevent you from enjoying its full benefits. You may not be able to disconnect or warm up enough if you arrive late.

Come a few minutes early so that you can unwind by changing into your yoga clothes without any rush. Roll out your mat, fetch the props you’ll need, and take a few minutes to silently sit on your mat before your class begins.

If something unexpected happens and you absolutely can’t help being late, join in quietly causing as little distraction as possible.

2. Skip Savasana

Savasana is arguably one of the hardest poses. That’s because many of us find it really difficult to be still.

It may seem like a waste of time, but, in actuality, Savasana is really good for us. It is a wonderful way to de-stress and it gives our bodies a chance to completely relax before we resume our everyday life.

In addition, if you’d like to establish a meditation practice, Savasana is a great place to begin. It may be really challenging pose to do at first but stick with it. You’ll thank yourself later.

3. Practice on a Full Stomach

Have a big meal about 2-3 hours prior to your yoga practice. This will ensure that you’re full and energetic, yet not feeling like your food is going to come back up.

You shouldn’t feel like you’re starving either.

If you think you won’t last till the end of the class, for example, because you’re coming from work and haven’t eaten anything substantial since lunch, grab something small (and healthy). A piece of fruit, a handful of nuts, or a smoothie can be great for that.

4. Bring Your Phone

Give yourself a chance to completely unplug. Mute or turn off your cell phone and leave it in your locker.

And, obviously, using a phone in class can distract and show disrespect towards others.

5. Talk to Your Neighbor

Honor other practitioners’ space and practice. If there is something you’d like to tell your neighbor, reserve that for after the class. Talking to them during it will not only disturb them but also others.

If you’d like to speak to or ask your instructor something, raise your hand or gesture otherwise to attract their attention. Speak quietly then he or she comes up to you.

6. Judge Yourself or Others

Yoga is a judgment-free practice. It really doesn’t matter what someone else is wearing and how they’re doing the poses. You likely won’t know how and why they got to this point in their practice and what their life is like.

Whatever you see is your own perception and interpretation. It will differ from theirs.

And most importantly – don’t judge yourself. So what if you fall out of a pose, lose balance, or accidentally fart in class? Chances are that everyone has done something silly or embarrassing at some point and no one judges you as hard as you do.

7. Compare Yourself to Others

At some point, there will be people in your class who will be a lot more flexible, stronger, thinner, or more fashionable than you. And that shouldn’t bother you one little bit.

Everyone starts somewhere, and everyone’s body and journey are different.

Instead, take some progress photos of your own practice (outside your yoga class and properly warmed up) and appreciate all the hard and amazing work you’ve done.

8. Use Hand Cream Right Before Your Yoga Class

When I took up yoga, I used to work as a school teacher. This meant using chalk and washing my hands multiple times a day. Chalk and water equal constantly dry hands. So, I’d always carry and generously apply hand cream.

Even before my first ever yoga class.

Bad idea.

I was sliding all over the mat and wiping my hands on my pants. And I even had a few epic Downward Dog fails before my yoga instructor approached to ask if everything was OK.

You may not be a teacher or use chalk daily. But if you’re thinking about applying some hand cream right before class, don’t.

A Final Thing that May Want to Consider

Bring Your Own Yoga Mat or Towel

Studios normally have mats and props that you can rent or borrow during your yoga class.

However, you may feel creeped out thinking about all the sweat the mat must have soaked up by the time you pick it up. It that’s your case, bring your own yoga mat or pack a yoga towel, which you can spread over one of the studio’s mats.

Let’s Talk!

Do you know or have heard any other tips? Do you have any questions you’d like to ask or experiences to share? I’d love to hear them!

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