I was duped into having my first yoga experience last night, and I liked it!
Yoga is not a new thing in my house but it has always been something that has intimidated me due to the amount of injuries I have accumulated over the years and my not knowing if I would be able to keep up. I am VERY competitive when it comes to sports so I have a deep “not wanting to look bad” fear in me which has been a big reason for my not having tried it before. So here is my first yoga experience for you to learn from, laugh at and hopefully be inspired to try on for yourself!
Getting To My First Yoga Experience
I got home from the office a little later than usual this day and we quickly transitioned into preparing our dinner, vegetarian burritos with fresh Pico de Gallo and guacamole. My thought was that I was on my way to a stretching class so I didn’t want a heavy meal prior. At this point I did not know I was actually booked for a Vinyasa & Restorative Yoga experience at our local MMA Gym.
After dinner, and with my mind set on what I thought a stretch class would be like, I put on my soccer training pants and a loose fitting t-shirt thinking that would be the best and we headed out the door. We arrived early as instructed, mats in hand, and then I saw yoga bolsters, blocks and kneeling pads being handed out and knew I was not where I thought I was going to be.
I was about to do “real yoga”
Things I Learned During My First Yoga Experience
The instructor for the class, Patricia at Infinity Yoga and Wellness, recognized that I was new and not in my element, so she came over and spoke to me as people were arriving and setting up their stations. She asked me about injuries that I might have and a few other questions as she set my mind at ease that I would survive the evening.
I am not going to lie, I felt a wee bit anxious as I watched the class fill with people all geared up in their yoga clothes and carrying their own yoga blocks and the like. But this quickly passed as our instructor moved the setting into a more dimly lite environment and a background sound track that seemed to perfectly match my needs at the moment.
I feel that my main takeaway from my first yoga experience was that I really overthought what it was going to be like before even giving it a chance. Once I was there I was very easily able to find my own groove in the practice and my experience level fit perfectly with everyone around me. Nobody cared if my tree pose was balanced perfectly and that my foot was placed in the perfect spot while doing it, they were focused on their own balance during that pose.
I also found I had little to no time to look around me while we moved from pose to pose due to being centered in my own movement and breathe as I listened to the instructor skillfully describe how and where to move to next.
By the end of the 1.5 hour class I was not only still alive – I felt GOOD! The classed moved at the perfect pace and I never once felt like I was less than or not able to keep up. Yes there were poses that my body was not ready to take on but again the instructor had prepared me for that and always had various levels of engagement for us to try for each movement we were presented with.
My main take away from having had the experience is that I am capable, people who go to yoga classes are at every level of experience, and that the setting is made to be extremely easy for new and experienced participants to enjoy.
Did Yoga Hurt?
YES – but in all the “right ways” if that makes sense. As we moved deeper into each pose I could feel my muscles and joints loosen and allow me to go further in a natural way. Initially there was discomfort, and at times there were poses that I just couldn’t do (from old injuries and from being in less than stellar shape) but it didn’t matter and no one cared, me included because it never felt awkward or competitive.
What I Felt While In Yoga Class
Start to finish I never once felt awkward, out of place, or that I was not somewhere that I didn’t want to be. Throughout my first yoga experience I felt more and more in sync with those around me and felt confident with what was to come next from our instructor.
There were times where I was not able to do exactly what the full pose was supposed to look like, but I was able to do my version of it, and it was perfect, accepted and acknowledged.
By the end of the class I felt good – body, mind and spirit. I do not know how to explain it but I just had an overall sense of wellbeing and I think I might be hooked.
Should You Try Yoga?
Sure, if you want to. It took me years to get to a class since I was first invited and when I did go the timing was perfect for me. You might experience the same perfect timing for yourself if you just allow yourself to go when it feels right.
I personally would recommend giving yoga a try at least once so that you know what it is and what it isn’t. Before you do though, make sure you know what kind of class you are signing up for! There are MANY different forms and variations of yoga and you want to be sure you are not jumping into the advanced pool before you are ready.
8 Tips For Your First Yoga Experience
I want to close out this personal yoga experience with a few things I felt I would have liked to have been better prepared for, and known, prior to having my first yoga experience. Hopefully they can help you if you are about to give yoga a try, and will help you make the decision to get out to your first yoga class.
- Start with an intro or beginners level class: Beginners should start with a basic or introductory yoga class, which will introduce the basic poses and breathing techniques. This will give you a solid foundation on which to build your practice. My first class was a Vinyasa & Restorative Yoga session (which I am not 100% sure what that means) and it was perfect for my first time.
- Wear comfortable clothing: Wear comfortable, stretchy clothing that allows you to move freely. Avoid clothing that is too tight or restrictive. Also avoid zippers as they can dig into your ankles like mine did with my soccer pants that I was wearing.
- Bring your own mat: Bring your own yoga mat to class. It’s more hygienic and ensures that you have a mat that is the right size and thickness for you. These are available pretty much everywhere and are at all price points.
- Listen to your body: Yoga is not a competition, so listen to your body and don’t push yourself too hard. If a pose is uncomfortable or painful, back off or modify the pose. I tried to squeeze a few poses to far and quickly learned it was not beneficial so only did what felt good and that was an a-ha moment for me.
- Breathe deeply: Breathing is an essential part of yoga. Practice deep, rhythmic breathing, and try to synchronize your breath with your movements. Sometimes the pose made it hard for me to get my breath so I would back out a little – with time I expect this to get better and easier.
- Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water before and after class to stay hydrated. Hydration is always important but I didn’t have much need of water intake during my first yoga experience so listen to your body and be prepared incase you want to have water during your class.
- Respect the practice: Yoga is a spiritual and cultural practice with a rich history. Respect the tradition and culture by being respectful of the teacher, the practice, and other students in the class. It never felt awkward to just “be” there and be in the moment. Being present actually made it better I think.
- Be patient: Like any new skill, yoga takes time and patience to master. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t do a pose right away. With regular practice, you will improve and become more confident. This was hard for me but it was something I did work on during my first yoga class. It’s a journey, not a race, so go with the mindset of just trying on something new and knowing that it takes years to build your own way of doing yoga.
I hope after reading this you are ready to have your own first yoga experience!