5 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Yoga Classes

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I’ve been practicing yoga for about 10 years now, and I’ve noticed that my practice has changed as I’ve gotten older. When I was in my 20s and 30s, there were times when I would get up at 4:00 AM just to make sure that I could attend the 7:00 AM class before work. Now that I’m in my 40s, it’s more important (and more difficult) to get up early because it takes longer for me to wake up and recover from workouts than it used to, but one thing hasn’t changed: how much yoga has helped me find balance in life.

1. Prepare to get your zen on.

  • Meditate before class.
  • Get to class early and find a place where you won’t be disturbed or distracted.
  • Wear comfortable clothes, including loose-fitting pants or shorts, a shirt that covers your belly button (if it’s showing), and sneakers or other closed-toe shoes that are easy to slip off during the flow part of the class. Ask about any specific clothing requirements for any given instructor’s classes; some instructors insist on wearing yoga pants with no holes in them, for example!
  • Bring a bottle of water so you can stay hydrated throughout the session and don’t feel faint when it’s time for downward dog pose—aka “the most intense pose ever.” You should also bring one towel if you sweat easily; two towels are recommended if you’re prone to sweating profusely during yoga practice (*raises hand*).

2. If possible, show up early.

  • If possible, show up early.

While most yoga studios will have a short quiet period before class starts, this is a great time to get your mat set up and your mind focused on the practice ahead of you. When I was first learning how to meditate in the morning, my teacher recommended that I start with five minutes of meditation before getting ready for work—not enough time for any real relaxation but just long enough to get my body used to sitting still with my eyes closed and mind focused on breathing. It’s easy enough to follow these same steps when preparing for yoga class: come early so that you have time to find a good spot in an open area near where your instructor will be leading class (or just make sure not to block anyone else’s path). Practice some deep breaths or simple stretches so that when it comes time for more rigorous movement it won’t feel as intense or difficult as it otherwise might if you were stiff from being seated all morning at work or commuting home from school/daycare/etc., etc., etc.. The point is that showing up early gives us room both mentally and physically within which we can relax into our bodies without feeling rushed or stressed out by other people’s agendas; this is especially true when we’re working through new poses alongside classmates who may not yet know where they’re going wrong!

3. Ask your instructor any questions you might have.

If you’re new to yoga and have questions about what the instructor is doing on the mat, ask. If you are a long-time yogi and want to learn how to get a better alignment in some of your favorite poses, ask. Asking questions is a great way to learn more about yoga and keep your mind active while in class.

Ask your instructor what they want from you during each pose (e.g., relaxation, strength, flexibility), or even if there’s anything specific they would like for you do during that time period (e.g., make eye contact with each individual student). This will help keep everyone focused on what matters most at that moment in class: being present!

4. Stay hydrated throughout the class.

  • Stay hydrated throughout the class.

Drink water before and after class. You can also drink water during class if you feel thirsty, but don’t gulp it down too quickly or you’ll cramp up! Staying hydrated helps your body to digest nutrients more efficiently and flush out toxins from your system more easily, making for a healthier you all-around. Always remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day—aim for at least eight glasses (or two liters) per day if possible. If you’re exercising regularly or sweating a lot during hot yoga classes, increase this amount as needed so that it is equivalent to about one gallon per day for men and about 77 ounces per day for women

5. Be kind to yourself and your body throughout the class, and don’t worry about things that aren’t part of the practice — like why the person next to you is better than you at bending over backwards (which is called “upward dog” if you’re curious).

In this section, we’ll talk about the benefits of practicing self-compassion during yoga. This can be an especially difficult thing to do when you’re first starting out and comparing yourself to others in class. It’s easy to get caught up in comparing your body type and abilities to other students, which can lead you down a path of self-defeat and self-judgement.

It’s important not to compare yourself with others in class because everyone has different bodies, different abilities and strengths — so it doesn’t make sense for anyone else’s practice or experience (good or bad) to be yours as well! You’re there for YOURSELF, not them!

The practice of yoga is meant to help YOU reach YOUR goals — but if your goal is simply “not being terrible at yoga” then perhaps one of these other practices would better serve your needs: basketball; bowling; learning how to cook spaghetti; inventing new ways at making grilled cheese sandwiches (because those are all super hard too!).

6. Relax! You’re there to help yourself; not hurt yourself.

While yoga is a physical practice, it is also a mental and spiritual one. As you learn to relax your body and mind, you will find yourself feeling happier and more at peace with the world around you. This connection with yourself will be reflected in your connections with others. You may find that once you begin to practice yoga regularly, those around you begin to treat you differently. Maybe they become more respectful or attentive? Maybe they share in your joy at being more connected with yourself!

If this sounds like something that would benefit both of us as well as society at large, then consider taking up yoga today!

The better you prepare for yoga class, the more you’ll get out of it.

The better you prepare for yoga class, the more you’ll get out of it. Here are some tips to help you get the most from your next session:

  • Be on time.
  • Get there early if possible.
  • Ask questions if you have them.
  • Stay hydrated with water and tea before, during, and after class—but remember that alcohol isn’t allowed in most studios!
  • Be kind to yourself and your body; don’t push too hard or force yourself into positions beyond what feels comfortable for the sake of looking good in front of other people (and especially not at the expense of hurting yourself).

Conclusion

For many people, yoga is a way to relax and destress. If you’re new to yoga, or if it’s been a while since you last took a class, use these tips to make sure that your next experience is as great as possible. Take some time before class to prepare yourself mentally and physically so that you can focus on what’s important: having fun!