What to expect in – and after – a yoga class

If you’ve never done yoga before you might want to know what to expect in your first class, and it might also be useful to know what to expect afterwards.

A yoga class normally begins sitting down. The teacher may give some instructions about how to sit or to adjust your position to make sure your posture is okay. Often there will be a few minutes to allow everyone to bring their focus and attention to the class ahead.

What happens next will depend on your teacher and the style of yoga they teach. In some classes you’ll go straight into a flowing sequence called Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar). This is a really good way to warm up before doing some stretches. Other classes may start in a more gentle manner, using some limbering exercises and gentle stretches to help you prepare for the class ahead. Or you might go straight into poses (asanas).

A good teacher will tell you what to expect and will demonstrate what they want you to do before talking you through things. You can also expect more instruction and guidance as you’re doing a pose. This will continue throughout the class.

If you’re new to yoga it can be difficult to do some things as well as the more experienced students. Don’t worry. In a good class your teacher will allow for all levels of ability. Everyone should be able to work at their level.

The end of the class is normally used for relaxation. This could include some breathing exercises (pranayama) before a short period of relaxing lying down (Savasana).

It’s true that in some classes you’ll be asked to join in a chant or ‘om’ but don’t feel under any pressure to do so. It can take a while to become comfortable doing new things in new surroundings with a bunch of strangers. It is worth giving it a go at some point however. And while its true that yoga classes are more popular with women, most classes will be mixed. Your teacher could be a man or a woman.

A day or two after a yoga class it is not unusual to feel some tightness or soreness in your muscles. This is known as DOMS – delayed onset muscle soreness. It’s simply a sign that you’ve been working your muscles and now your body is working to repair them. This is when you’re actually getting fitter! You can ease the soreness by being active, going for a walk is best, and you can help your body rebuild your muscles by drinking plenty of water and eating well. That doesn’t mean eating nothing but protein! A good, balanced diet will give you body everything it needs to do its job.

Doing 1 class of yoga a week will help to develop your range of motion, strength and stamina, and muscles tone – but don’t expect any miracles. If you practice regularly, and if you look after yourself outside of class by eating a healthy diet, then you should notice an improvement.

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