First Time in Yoga Class

Are you nervous about going to your first yoga class? What will it be like? Will everyone stare at you? Will they all be incredibly slim, bendy and beautiful? Will the teacher even notice you?

I can well remember my first class. Mat at the very back of the room, in the loosest, baggiest clothes I could find, clutching a towel (no, I don’t know why either!) like Lynus with his comfort blanket. Should I sit cross legged, aahh! No, can’t do that!! What about kneeling? Ouch!! No, that’s not going to work either! 10 minutes later my right leg has completely gone to sleep.‘Let’s all come onto our feet for Mountain Pose’, says the teacher. What! I try to stand but my leg is completely numb and I end up hobbling across the mat like a pantomime pirate.

Stifling an embarrassed laugh, I notice the teacher eyeing me crisply from the front of the class, all around me my fellow students are poised like Greek statues, gracefully awaiting the teacher’s next instruction. Warrior 1!’ Sounds like a challenge this one. How can I hold my arms above my head for 5 breaths? Even drying my hair is a challenge! I know I’ll just copy the person in front of me. ‘Forward Fold’ – oh dear, that’s not a good angle! I hope those stretchy leggings I bought in the supermarket last week aren’t as see-through as hers!

And so it continued, every pose seemingly more complicated or challenging than the previous one, every name more difficult to remember. At one point I thought someone behind me was having an asthma attack, then I realised it was me trying to power myself through a Warrior II.

So what happened? Why, 20 years later am I still on my mat nearly every day? Why am I still passionate about yoga? For the same reason that I turned up the following week at that early class all those years ago – because it made me feel fantastic!

Once I realised that I didn’t need to be perfect, that I didn’t have to copy the person in front or next to me, that the teacher wasn’t being critical but just caring and that I didn’t have to try so hard, it all began to fall into place. I learned to work with my body, respect my own limitations, move to my own rhythm. I learned to breathe in a way that gave life to my poses and peace to my mind, and…above all, I learned to be confident, to claim my place on the mat, in the class and in the world and I love it!

And do you know what? Now my mat is at the front of the class, slap bang in the middle!

So don’t be put off if your first yoga class isn’t the zen-like experience you thought it was going to be. Stick with it and soon you’ll be up there next to me at the front of the class and loving every minute.