As a newcomer to yoga, entering a humid, sticky room only to find other class attendees doing warm-up headstands can be intimidating beyond belief. But getting past the sweat, blood and tears — tears of sweat? — of your first few classes is definitely worth the pain.
Although I’m no yoga expert, I have three years of practice under my belt and am here to share some tips that will help your journey to yogi bliss be a successful one.
The first step is choosing a venue that works for you. Lucky for me, there are hot yoga classes offered at the gym I attend. Any gym that offers fitness classes with their membership usually has hot yoga. If not, there are plenty of great studios in Saskatoon and some even offer discounts for students. The Physical Activity Complex at the University of Saskatchewan also offers yoga classes, although they are not specifically hot yoga classes.
Once you have a venue of choice, call ahead and see what the studio requires for yoga mats. Some provide their own to newcomers who show up unaware, while others don’t have extra mats available. This is important because you don’t want to show up empty-handed without a mat at your first class.
Along the lines of supplies, make sure to bring a small towel or see that your venue provides them. There is literally no way to make it through a hot yoga class without a towel — your body will be sweating in places you had no idea it could and you will likely need it to keep your hands from slipping on your mat.
Hot yoga is definitely a type of fitness that challenges both the body and mind. Know that you will be sweating like crazy by the end of the class. There’s no need to be self-conscious about this though; one glance around the room will confirm that everyone else is in the same boat.
Your first few classes might be a bit frustrating until you get the poses and sequences down. The flow of the poses can make it hard to relax at first, when you have to keep glancing at what others are doing. Don’t feel intimidated by the girl in the front who’s one step ahead of everyone though, remember that she too was once in your place!
Since your body won’t be used to yoga initially, expect to be pretty sore the next day. Take it easy, stay hydrated and don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s always challenging to try something new. With time and once you learn the yoga poses, you will be flowing through your vinyasa and breathing like a pro — it doesn’t take long to get hooked on the feeling of being in the zone, on your mat and working with your body.
In the time that I’ve been practicing, I have become rather attached to certain instructors and their teaching style. While it’s good to find a teacher you’re comfortable with, make sure to try out new ones at the same time. It’s not fun to find yourself turned off from yoga temporarily if your teacher finds a different job and you’re left scrambling to find a new one.
If you’re nervous to go alone, you can always bring a friend. Be warned however, it may take away from staying focused on your practice. Usually, bringing my best friend to yoga means making ridiculous faces at each other while we’re in downward dog — or trying to hold in laughter when one of us collapses out of a pose.
The best advice I can offer new yogis is don’t give up! The most difficult part is taking the plunge and building up the courage to try a class. If you don’t love it immediately, keep going. The benefits come from dedication and it only gets better with time.
Naomi Zurevinski / Editor-in-Chief
Graphic: Jeremy Britz / Graphics Editor