When I think back to the anxiety I felt about taking a yoga classes, I realize that most of my fears were wrapped up in the first class and being overly concerned about my ability to “do it right.” I decided to share some of the tips I’ve learned in a just a few weeks to hopefully alleviate some of your own fears about taking that first yoga class. (First tip? Go!) Because every class at Sunstone is designed for all levels, you’re already off to a good start in an environment that is welcoming and helpful.
- Towel up. Sunstone provides yoga mats and towels, although you can bring your own. At my first class, I didn’t think to place my towel on my mat. Now I know why others around me did this. It helps not only with comfort, but remember…this is hot yoga. The sweat is going to drip somewhere. The best place for it is a towel. I recommend using Sunstone’s towels to place on top of the mat and bringing a small hand towel from home if you’d like to use it after class.
- Bring water. In fact, bring more than you think you’ll need. It’s a good idea to hydrate yourself prior to yoga class. You’ll feel the urge to have a sip of water once you enter the room, set at 98 degrees. You’ll reach for it often between poses, and instructors are good at letting you know when it would be a good time for a water break. Take them. If you forget a water bottle, all locations sell a large bottle of water for only a dollar and there is tap water available as well to fill your own bottle.
- Come hungry. Ok, maybe not hungry. But don’t show up to class with a full stomach. Yoga is all about stretching, bending, and pushing yourself in order to maximize the poses to benefit your muscles and core. If you just finished a heavy meal of pasta and vino, you’ll feel the weight when doing the poses and likely a stomach ache after class. Keep meals and snacks light before going to class. I learned this lesson the hard way, so let this experience be my gift to you. You’re welcome.
- Use the mirrors. My initial instinct during my first few classes was to avoid the mirror because it reminded me of what I felt like I couldn’t do. Use the mirror, instead, to see what you can do. Use it as a tool to watch yourself during poses and correct yourself, according to the teacher’s instructions, as you go. You’ll notice that you stand—or sit—a little taller when you realize, “Hey, I’m actually doing this!”
- Come early. Most locations schedule classes with enough of a break between them to allow the next group of students to spend a few minutes in silence with the lights dimmed to acclimate themselves to the temperature. This is a good time to lie on your back on the yoga mat and prepare yourself mentally for the upcoming experience. Sunstone is a cell phone-free environment. Rather than stress about what you’re missing, relish in the fact that you have one hour that is completely devoted to your own personal health and wellbeing.
- Find a focal point. During many of the poses, the instructor will recommend finding a focal point. There’s a reason for this—balance. Rather than looking at your neighbor or letting your eyes follow the instructor around the room, find a focal point and practice the pose as instructed. You’re much less likely to lose your balance and potentially fall forward. (I also share this tip due to personal experience.)
- There is no back of the room. At least not at Sunstone. During my first class, I thought I’d place my mat in the back of the room, far corner to avoid any sort of attention or potential embarrassment. Here, instructors walk around the entire room to assist students when necessary and make sure everyone can see them. Plus, you’ll quickly learn that you face every direction in yoga poses throughout a class. So find a spot, drop your mat, and be proud that you’re off of the couch and in class.
- Ask questions. During Spark class, the instructor gives two water breaks that allow students time for a quick Q and A. You won’t find this in the Fire Series or other classes, but instructors do encourage students to ask them questions after class to become more familiar with Sunstone and yoga. Every time I’ve asked a question, I’m glad I did.
- Practice at home. While it’s certainly not a requirement of Sunstone to practice between classes at home, you’ll find that taking a few minutes each day to practice a pose or two will help you hold those poses longer or do them even better during the next class.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously. The reason Sunstone refers to yoga class as “practice” is because it is. At any level, the student is still practicing. Everyone is in their own place. Don’t compare yourself to the guy practicing before class who has obviously been in yoga for the past decade, and don’t spend the entire class marveling at the woman two rows ahead of you who goes into a perfect pose before the instructor even announces it. Just set your own pace and celebrate your personal improvements that will become inevitable with every class. And when the instructor says, “look in the mirror and smile,” go ahead. You’ve earned it.
Visit sunstonefit.com to learn more about the classes and register. There are eight class series in 10 of the 11 locations throughout Dallas-Fort Worth. Join in the fun to “Find Your Edge” by taking and posting your #SweatySelfies after class, not only as an accountability tool, but in celebration of making your fitness goal of the day. Follow Sunstone on Twitter at @SunstoneFIT or on Facebook at Facebook/sunstoneyoga