Taking Your First Yoga Class? Here's How To Prepare

Your first yoga class should be a relaxing, invigorating and inspiring experience. To help make sure you’re ready, here’s what you should do before entering the studio:

1: Get hydrated: drink 1 to 2 liters of water an hour and a half before your class. It takes an hour and a half to digest water so this will help you to be fully hydrated for class. It’s also recommended to have an empty stomach for class, as a belly sloshing full of water can make some postures uncomfortable. Make sure whatever you eat has time to digest first.

2: Put on comfortable clothes: wear clothing you can move and breathe in. Sweat pants are too heavy. I suggest these three tests for potential yoga clothing: squat to see if your hips are constricted, raise your arms to see if your shoulders are hindered, and bend forward to see if your shirt falls over your head. If any of this happens, you should choose a different article of clothing.

3: Prepare your props: most studios have props you might need for your class like blocks, straps, bolsters etc., but check beforehand. If you do not own a mat, ask if the studio has any available to use and whether or not there is a rental fee. It’s always good to try out a mat first before setting out to purchase one. This way you’ll know where to look for.

4: Show up on time: always show up to your class 10 minutes early. Showing up late is a disruption to the class and instructor. Also, depending on how late you are, the instructor may not allow you to attend class. Being on time also allows you to find parking with plenty of time and to speak to the instructor prior to class, or just take a few moments to relax and meditate. It’s always good to tell the instructor if you have any injuries or medical conditions. This way your instructor can make sure the class you are about to take is appropriate and keep you safe during class by modifying postures for you if needed.

5: Remember that the yoga studio is not a gym: yoga studios are a sacred space. You must enter the space being mindful of it and those present. Cell phones should be turned off, so finish phone conversations outside first. No shoes are allowed in the yoga room. Be sure to clean your feet before entering the room because we lay on the floor in many postures and want to keep dirt off it much as possible.

6: Prepare to commit to the practice: once you begin class, you must commit yourself to follow through. Attending 45 minutes of an hour long class is a common practice in gyms, but not a yoga studio. If you need to rest, take a break in child’s pose and then get back into the flow.

7: Relax: everyone in class is working on their own practice. No one is going to be watching you or judging you. So just relax and see where the class takes you. You might surprise yourself. Remember, just because an instructor tells you to touch your toes doesn’t mean you have to do it that day. Yoga is a journey, not a destination.

Namasté, Tara


It’s All in Your Pelvic Tilt

By Emily Henry

On one of my recent Google excursions exploring the question “why are my hamstrings so tight?”, I came across a series of articles about “pelvic tilt.” By the end of my trip, my mind was blown. I got up from the computer multiple times to test certain theories and am now convinced that an incorrect pelvic tilt has been messing up my yoga practice, not to mention my body.

Just take a look at the image below of a forward fold (from

This article on Understanding Pelvic Tilt explains that when the pelvis is in a posterior tilt, which is basically a curved lower back and tucked butt, the hamstrings are engaged. In an anterior pelvic tilt, which to me feels like sticking out my butt and almost arching my back, the hamstrings are given a chance to lengthen. Ironically, tight hamstrings can cause a posterior tilt, which then compounds the problem. 

I have been trying for years to lengthen my hamstrings with various stretches and yoga positions, and the results have always been minimal. A few years ago, I managed to touch my toes for the first time. I dread forward folding positions because of my tight hamstrings and they constrict me in many other postures as well. But since learning about the types of pelvic tilt, I’ve come to realize that my attempts to “stretch” my hamstrings have actually been doing nothing of the sort. You can’t stretch a muscle that is engaged. By focusing on achieving an anterior tilt, I certainly can’t fold forward as far, but I can feel my hamstrings stretching instead of just aching. I’ve also discovered that this allows for more flexibility in other postures because my balled-up-fist hamstrings aren’t holding me back. I do have to bend my knees just a fraction though to compensate for “locking” them (and engaging my quads, which also means less flexibility), but more on that next time.

Isn’t it amazing how the seemingly smallest postural change can make such a big difference? That’s why I love yoga. It’s a constant learning experience becoming aware of the cause and effect at work within your body — and your life for that matter. Small changes can add up to big improvements. All you have to do it tilt a different way to make everything shift.