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Yoga Tips for Newbies

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I've been devoted to practicing yoga for about eight months now. Though I'm altogether smitten and periodically blissful, I don't possess the expertise to enlighten anyone reading this post about the many wonderful elements of yoga. However, as is my nature, I have watched, experienced, and eavesdropped upon others, gathering together tips that will make a beginner at a yoga class feel more comfortable. I only wish that I had a primer like this way back last summer when I began!

1. Don't hide in the back of the room when you're new. Yoga is nothing like that algebra class of your nightmares. You won't be called on if you plant yourself in the front, and it's the best spot to see the teacher.

2. Don't spend a lot of money on clothes. Wear what's comfortable as long as it lets you move freely.

3. As you haven't invested in pricey and form-fitting garb, know that whatever you wear is likely to ride up, flop open, shift over, and bunch up when you practice yoga. It's not just you --it's likely that at some point you'll spy the teacher subtly extricate something from somewhere it shouldn't be. Tug what you need to tug whenever you must, and keep on going.

4. Hair sticks to shiny lip gloss.

5. No one's watching you (except the teacher). Everyone -- no matter how much more experienced they are -- is focused on themselves. Unless your screw-up of a pose causes you to land on someone else's mat, it's very likely that no one will notice.

6. Don't watch anyone else (except the teacher). Others in class may know less than you, be compensating for injuries, or be much more flexible and experienced. Your three-legged dog is unique: Own it.

7. When classes take place indoors, there will be walls. Brace yourself against one if you need to do so.

8. It's OK to sigh loudly sometimes.

9. It's OK to giggle loudly sometimes.

10. If #8 and #9 are frowned upon at the yoga studio you attend, find a new studio.

11. It's cool to say, "Please don't touch me today," if you're sore or antsy and don't want to be coaxed. It's also fine to inquire, "Where does my hip go?" three classes in a row if you sincerely want to learn.

12. Drink water before your class, stop by the bathroom, and then drink more during class. When you're not dehydrated or worrying about needing to go, it's a lot easier to focus.

13. "I'm too busy to go to class" isn't really true. I find that I am more productive after a class than I would have been if I stayed away and slogged through whatever seemed more pressing.

14. I've heard people use the expression, "Showing up is half the battle." However, when it comes to yoga, I've learned that if you show up with an open mind, there's no battle. It's a guaranteed victory.

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