Nervous about trying yoga? Join the club! Almost everyone going to their first yoga class (or first anything) feels nervous. Here are a few common concerns and why you shouldn't be worried about them:
"I'm not flexible."
I can't tell you how many times I have heard this! Let me say this one time: YOU GO TO YOGA TO GAIN FLEXIBILITY! No one expects you to twist into a pretzel two seconds after you start your first yoga class. Even if you go to yoga for years and still can't touch your toes, it doesn't matter!!! If you can breathe, you can do yoga. Every person in your yoga class has a different body and life than you do. So, do not expect everyone to be able to (or even want to) do the same things.
"I don't have cute yoga clothes."
You don't need yoga specific clothes to practice yoga. An old t-shirt and the sweatpants you stole from your boyfriend in college will suffice. Some people like to have the match-y yoga stuff to look cute, and that's ok. Some people get a sense of empowerment from wearing particular workout clothes; it makes them feel more serious about their practice. And that's ok too. You should wear whatever makes you feel comfortable and allows you free movement.
"What if I pass gas?"
This is a valid concern. Here's a secret: even the most experience yogis still worry about this! It's happened to me and it's happened to lots of other people; none of us were kicked out of class or even made note of. Try to avoid eating right before class, as all the movement does tend to get our digestive systems moving. Most of the time everyone pretends nothing happened, while silently being grateful it wasn’t us and class goes on. No one will remember it by the next class.
"What if I fall over?"
Even yoga teachers fall over sometimes!!! We all have good balance days and bad balance days. If you fall out of a pose, take a second to reset and try again. This is how we learn and progress. Yoga classes tend to be very accepting environments; if anything, you might get a helpful suggestion from the neighboring mat.
"What if I get tired?"
If you get tired, take a break! This is not boot camp, no one is going to hound you for taking a rest. Anytime you feel light headed, winded or like you heart's racing, take a break! We even have a pose called "child's pose" for this exact purpose. It is always acceptable to go into a restorative pose or stop to take a drink of water or even run to the bathroom at any point in the class.
"Everyone is more advanced than me."
Nope, they're not. There are no levels, no tests, no grades in yoga. You do what is best for YOUR body in YOUR practice on that particular day. Some of your classmates may have been practicing for years or are naturally super bendy (or both)! The thing to remember about yoga is this: It's not about achieving a pose. It's about achieving a mindset. It is about self-acceptance and letting go of judgement of and competition with other people, and YOURSELF. There is nothing magic about touching your toes or the floor. Make your practice your own and give you body what it needs today.
"What if I look silly?"
Pretty much everyone looks silly in certain pose; Happy Baby and Frog poses come to mind. Don't worry about looking silly; everyone else is too focused on their own practice to be watching yours!
"I just don't think I'm the yoga type."
What do you think the yoga type is? One more time: If you can breathe, you can do yoga. I know yogis who are incense burning, tie-dye loving, vegan hippies. I also know yogis who are steak loving, sports car driving, power lawyers. My point is, yoga is for everyone and EVERY BODY. You do not need to fit a movie stereotype to practice yoga.
"What if I'm no good at it?"
Will it be hard? Probably. It's your first time doing it! Can you think of any new activity where there wasn't at least some sort of learning curve? We don't DO yoga, we PRACTICE yoga. There's no such thing as succeeding at yoga, just deepening your practice. Acknowledge the challenge of something new, stop judging yourself and revel in the baby steps along your journey.
Trying something new can be scary. You don't always know what to expect, so come to yoga without expectations. Just making it in the door to the class is great! If you choose to sit or lay in a relaxation pose for the entire class and breath, that's great! Your yoga practice is what you make of it. The focus and concentration you need during class will quickly push out any doubt and fear during your first few classes. Let go of expectations and just stay in the new experience. After all, you can only go to your first yoga class once!
Image courtesy of marcolm at FreeDigitalPhotos.net