Five Ways to Prepare for Your First Yoga Class

Last updated: April 16, 2024, at 2:01 p.m. PT

Originally published: February 13, 2017, at 10:35 a.m. PT

Do you want to try a yoga class for exercise, stress relief or even fun, but feel intimidated by yoga culture? We totally feel you. We were all beginners once! Here are five things you need to know for your first yoga class.

What to wear: 

You will want to wear comfortable clothes that allow you to move freely. For ladies workout capris or leggings and a top and workout shorts and a t-shirt for men are great options. It’s also a good idea to wear layers since it's hard to predict how cool the room will be or how hot you may get when moving through the yoga poses. Loose-fitting clothes is not recommended for a yoga class because your teacher will want to check your alignment and give you cues for improvement. Yoga is typically done barefoot or with yoga socks. Remember, you don't need to spend a lot on workout clothes!

What to bring: 

Some facilities have mats that you can rent or borrow. If you're totally new to yoga, renting is a great option before committing to buying your own mat.

Drink plenty of water before and after your yoga class.  You want to be well hydrated prior to class. Most yoga classes do not have designated water breaks.  And the majority of participants do not stop to drink water.  However, it is perfectly acceptable to bring your water bottle to class and stop to drink if you feel you need to. Please keep your water bottle to the side of the room and not near yours or another participant’s mat.

What to do: 

Arrive approximately 15 minutes prior to your first yoga class. During this time you will put your personal belongings in a locker, set up your yoga mat and introduce yourself to the instructor—let them know this is your first class and any limitations you may have.  Most first-time participants tend to set up in the back of the room either because they are nervous or feeling uncomfortable. As a new participant you may get more out of your class near the front of the room so you can clearly see and hear the instructor and the instructor can see YOU. In some cases, the instructor may move around the room and being in the back can be helpful to use others as an example.

Leave your cell phone in your locker or bag and make sure it is turned off.  Nothing's worse or more distracting than a cell phone going off in the middle of a yoga class!

What to expect: 

Yoga teachers are trained to adjust students to keep them in proper alignment and to help them execute the yoga movements correctly in order to avoid injury. Most instructors ask permission prior to touching a participant. And are usually pretty good at gauging a student's willingness to be assisted through contact. If you feel uncomfortable with hands-on adjustments, simply say to your instructor “No, I don’t want to be touched.”  They will not be offended in any way and will respect your body.

What to remember: 

It’s common for beginners to compare themselves to people in their class or feel intimidated by the skill level of others. In yoga classes participants are focused on themselves and what they are doing. Very few if any participant will be focused on you. If at any time you feel a pose is too hard for you or you are feeling tired, there’s no shame in going down to Child’s Pose. If you want to stop for a few seconds, you can. Remember that everyone was a beginner at one point and regardless of how long a person has been practicing yoga, they are all in the process of learning the movements and learning about their own skills and limitations. Comparing yourself to others will undermine your confidence and be detrimental to the process of listening to your own body and inner self.

Now you're all set for your first class! Check out all of our group exercise classes here.