Body, Mind, Spirit Magazine

For Yoga Students: Before Your First Class

By Anytimeyoga @anytimeyoga

So you’ve read this post or one like it — or you already knew everything in it or whatever — and are getting ready to head to your first yoga class. Some thoughts on how you can prepare to make class more enjoyable for everyone involved — yourself included.

First, that studio and class you chose? By reading the website? Probably has a page with info for beginners that is specific to the studio. You should start by reading that, and its studio-specific recommendations should probably take precedence over any of the more general stuff I say here, should they conflict.

Daily Yoga in Bhuktapur, Nepal

[By Punnamjai (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons]

Next, let’s talk clothes:

Much of the information available advises new yogis to wear comfortable clothing suitable for stretching and moving. And this is fine, as far as it goes, but it doesn’t address one significant issue that’s all too common to yoga studios — flashing.

Now. I’m sure there are some people who just don’t care about flashing one way or another — and if you’re one of them, I’d recommend scrolling past this section. Personally, I prefer to avoid flashing people in public, at least when it is reasonably convenient for me. For that, I’ve found that it’s best to be aware of four main flashable areas on the body (depending on anatomy and/or gender presentation) — cleavage from the collar, boob underview, bumcracks, and crotches. If you’re concerned about clothing cuts in any of these areas, you can probably check the first three with a downward facing dog and the last one with any seated wide angle pose.

I tend to find I’m most comfortable in longer (i.e., shirts that cover to my pubic area and shorts/capris that at least hit the tops of my knees), more fitted (this is not necessarily the same as “tight”) athletic clothing. Your mileage, of course, may vary.


[By Jessmcintyre (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (, via Wikimedia Commons]

Also relevant to clothing — bras. Many people with breasts will want one for yoga class. Whether it needs to be a sports bra or not depends on the person and the intensity of the specific class. Yoga does have some jumping and other elements with faster movement, but it also has twisting, side bending, and other movements that affect the torso. The industrial bra that supports for an activity like running may not offer the freedom of motion that makes a lot of yoga postures easier.

On average, a reasonable way to gauge would be to think about the pace of a brisk walk — the bra that comfortably supports for that is probably a good middling guideline.

Person holding a black yoga mat.

And then, mats:

Again, the studio of your choice will likely have some information about mats — whether they provide them at all, whether they’re free or need to be rented, etc.

If you already have a yoga mat you use and love, go ahead and bring that to your first class.

However, if you don’t already have a mat of your own that’s in regular use, I would recommend borrowing or even renting a mat from the studio, if available, for the first session.

This is because new mats often come with a thin, oily residue from the manufacturing process. Oil? Is slippery. That slipperiness can make it difficult to find stability in a number of postures: downward facing dog, plank, triangle, warriors. Studio mats are likely to be already broken in, reducing the slip factor.

Certainly, as you continue your practice, you’ll probably want to purchase a mat of your own. And then you too will get to have the Yoga Slip’n'Slide Experience of breaking it in. But maybe it is neither necessary or expedient to have that particular adventure at your first class?

Other stuff:

Your studio may have recommendations regarding water and/or a towel (for sweat). If they explicitly recommend them, I’d bring them, at least the first time. Better to have them and not need them than need them and not have them. If your studio doesn’t mention them, you may want to consider the possibility anyway, depending on the precise class you’re taking.

You may also wish to consider bringing a long sleeved shirt for wearing during savasana. Even if you get hot and sweaty during the rest of the practice, lying on the floor can get chilly pretty quickly. This is doubly true if you get cold easily and/or if the outside temperature is cold where you are.

Um. So. This post was a lot more “stuff” oriented than I’d originally anticipated. Which is maybe an illuminating reflection on the general state of “westernized” yoga in the US. The next post, I promise, will be more “people” oriented.

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