Here are some things you might consider before your first class:
Dress like you’re going to the beach (in SoCal)
Guys can wear shorts, shirts are not required. Gals can wear shorts and a sports top. You’ll want the clothes to be relatively tight and flexible. Keep in mind that you will sweat in whatever you’re wearing, so plan to have dry clothes for your victory walk home.
Be fully hydrated before class
Drink at least 2 liters of water each day throughout the day to help replace the water you lose during class. You should keep yourself consistently hydrated throughout the day. There are pauses in class where you will be able to drink water but please do not consider the water you drink during class as your main source of hydration. Have you been to the playa? It’s like that: try keeping a water bottle with you all the time. Another suggestion is to drink 1 liter of water an hour before class so you have enough time to absorb what you need and to eliminate what you don’t before class.
Replace your electrolytes
The sweating you do in the heated room will cause small amounts of electrolytes – the electrically charged minerals sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium and other trace minerals – to be lost from the body along with water. As we age our ability to balance electrolytes wanes. If you notice that you are feeling over-tired or getting a headache during or after class then try taking a natural source of electrolytes such as coconut water or a banana; or an electrolyte supplement such as Emergen-C or U Hydration.
Come to class on an empty stomach
Most people find that they need to leave 2-3 hours between their meal and class. However, if you find you need a snack try a piece of fruit like a banana or something light about an hour before class. With time you will discover for yourself what is best. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different routines.
It hurts when I go like this
Please inform your teacher of any existing injuries before class starts. This will give the instructor an opportunity to give appropriate corrections. Pain is an important signal from your body and should never be ignored. Sometime is is a sign of positive change, sometimes is means corrections need to be made. If you are not sure how to interpret your pain, ask any of our teachers.
Don’t even blink your eyes
Focus on yourself and be as still as possible between postures. With practice your ability to focus and be still will improve. This will advance your yoga practice tremendously and reduce your struggle physically and mentally. When you learn stillness and efficiency in movement, you will discover your strength.
Don’t sweat it
Learn to be comfortable with perspiration. Your sweat is a basic mechanism your body uses to cool itself down, so leave the sweat on your skin to allow your body to cool. It is normal for sensations like heat, sweat and occasional itching to be distracting to beginners. You will, with practice, teach your mind to be the master of you body, and these distractions will melt away.
It’s called a practice for a reason
Everyone comes to this yoga class to improve. Our goals may be in different areas, but we are all looking to make a change in ourselves. Many of us are shy about the areas where we seek improvement, and may worry that others will judge us. Just remember we’re all in this together, rooting for each other. Flaws are normal, as are the insecurities we carry with them. No one comes here to display their perfection, we all come here to practice and to grow.
Every class is different
Let go of any preconceived notions and enter each class like it is your first class. Your body is different every day, and it is normal for the class or certain postures to be easy one day and difficult the next. It is normal to have challenging classes. Often your easiest class will be followed by your most challenging and vise-versa.
Stir it up
Emotions from your practice are normal. You may feel angry or happy and even laugh or cry in class sometimes. Through yoga you will discover that the body, mind and emotions are connected. By entering the body through yoga you may find that you stir up strong emotions. Tears may flow, laughter may come, or anger may swell. This is normal, and the emotions will soon release from the body. Yoga is cleansing on many levels.
Let it go
Unusual experiences and sensations are normal during your practice. Many people experience flashes of light, electrical impulses, or unusual body sensation in certain postures. These are all normal. Old injuries may also re-emerge as aches or dull pain as you are working through those injured areas. You will learn to distinguish between pain that is appropriate and healing and pain that is signifying injury. If you ever have a question, please speak to your yoga teacher or a medical professional.
Take it easy honey
If you have been sick then take it easy your first class back. It is very normal to feel nauseous and dizzy when you are recovering from being sick. This is especially true if you took medication. Your first class back should be approached slowly; don’t rush or push. Lie down if you feel dizzy. Although your first class back will likely be uncomfortable it will often speed up your recovery.
I’d rather be in Savasana
Relax at the end of class. Learn to completely relax at the end of your practice. Final relaxation is a critical part of your practice. You have stretched muscles, compressed organs, and sent an uncountable amount of information to the nervous system. Allow the body to recover and the nervous system to integrate the information it has received. This can often be the hardest part of your practice. If you learn to relax after class you will also learn to relax outside of the studio. Conversely if you are finding it difficult to relax after class this is symptomatic of a problem relaxing in your everyday life.
Take full advantage of your first month
After your first class try to return the next day. Your first class will awaken your body and returning quickly will allow you to practice with an open and receptive body. Most students find their second class to be much easier than their first. As you become familiar with the postures you will be much more relaxed and easy in your practice. For this reason you should come consistently as a beginner. Bikram recommends a daily practice (six times a week) for the first two months. You will be amazed at the changes you see in your body after only 30 days.