What To Expect In A Yoga Class For Beginners


The first time I took a yoga class, I was hooked. I had been wanting to try it for years, but I think the combination of not knowing what to expect and not knowing where to start and certainly not knowing whether I’d be any good resulted in me putting it off for a long time. If you are interested in trying yoga but aren’t sure what to expect or maybe you’re a bit intimidated by some crazy poses you’ve seen on TV or in magazines, let me explain some of the basics. Hopefully it will inspire you to sign up for a class!


The first rule of yoga attire is to wear clothes that are comfortable! Many women like yoga pants and tank tops, but that’s not a necessity. You can wear the T-shirts and shorts that you would normally wear to workout if you prefer. Try to steer away from clothes that are too baggy, because that might hinder your instructor from being able to tell whether your pose is right or whether it needs to be adjusted.

Also keep in mind that you will be doing some bending and a lot of stretching, so make sure you can do that in the clothes you choose. You want to be able to bend and stretch comfortably and also avoid exposing more skin than you would like!

What To Bring

You should bring a towel and water to your yoga class. You might check with the studio to see if they provide yoga mats. Some do, and others charge extra. You can pick up a yoga mat at a sporting goods store if you prefer to bring your own.

Other equipment you might need during class such as ropes, blocks, or bands will probably be provided by your yoga studio.

Class Format

I have taken a few different types of yoga classes, and they all follow the same pattern. You can expect that your instructor will play some calm music during class. You will likely start with about 10 minutes of stretching and warming up. Once warmed up, you will gradually move into a series of poses that follow a sequence. You move from one pose to the next, and after going through that sequence a few times, you will move on to another. This lasts for about 40 minutes, and then you will have about 10 minutes of stretching, deep breathing, and relaxation.


This might be the part that most intimidates you, but it shouldn’t! Don’t worry, nobody will expect you to hit each pose perfectly your first time out. Many yoga poses allow for easy adjustments, depending on your level of flexibility. In other words, if you can’t reach your toes, reach for your shins or knees or thighs or whatever is comfortable.

You can keep your poses very simple in the beginning. Just follow the movements of the instructor or other students in the class and listen to verbal instructions. Your teacher will probably describe where each “part” goes for each pose. In other words, she might say, “Left foot faces forward, left knee is bent, right leg is stretched out in back…” etc. She will also probably walk around and help you with the pose if you are having trouble.

It’s that simple! Your instructor will walk you through it, and she will be able to do so without drawing too much attention to you or interrupting the class at all. Just follow from pose to pose, and you will quickly get the hang of it. Believe me, I am not the most coordinated person on the planet, so if I can do it, I have no doubt you can too!

If you think you’d like to familiarize yourself with the poses before class, there’s a great little $5 book you can get from amazon, called Yoga (101 Essential Tips). In it you will find an explanation of each component of basicย  yoga poses. For many of the poses, the author explains how to position your arms, legs, toes, hands, and back, and also which direction to face. It’s a really helpful little book that might help you feel a little more ready for class.

If you just want to get an idea about the types of easy yoga poses you should expect in a beginners yoga class, check out this short four-minute video. You will see how easy the poses are!

I hope this will inspire you to sign up for a yoga class! I wish I had started much sooner. It’s a great stress-reliever, and I promise you’ll walk out feeling great!




Posted on May 3, 2012, in Physical Health and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. I have never taken a yoga class but this makes me feel like I can!! I seriously will give it some thought. Thanks for the great info!

  2. Nisha, this is something I will be looking at once I have made my 40# goal as I want something, so this is a GREAT post for beginners. THANKS!

  3. jamiegall1930

    I've always wanted to try one, but I'm scared to attend one on my own, at least, the first time. I'll get there eventually =)

    • Don't be scared! It's really not as intimidating as it would seem. That said, my husband went with me the first time, and he's been going ever since! Will yours go with you? He just might like it!

  4. I love yoga. I can't do a lot of the poses because of heart problems, so I take aqua yoga classes instead. The water helps with balance, I still get a lot of the benefits, and never have to worry about passing out from the downward dog. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I have a lot of tendon pain: wrists, elbows, knees, low back. The pain is not in the joints so much as it's in the tendon. I also have restricted range of motion in these joint areas. Some years ago, I did yoga off and on and had no difficulty. More recently, I went to a beginner's class and – even with modification – I experienced a lot of pain especially in my wrists. Again, this was WITH modification (blocks, straps, etc). My question is – should I keep on doing it? Will the stretching – in time – alleviate the pain or only make it worse? Thoughts?

    • It's hard to tell, Karen, but you may just need more time loosening up before class. Have you talked to your doctor about the tendon pain? Maybe s/he can shed some light on what's going on. My guess is that stretching will help the pain dissipate if you do it regularly and don't push too hard. But talk to your doctor to know for sure. I'm pretty sure yoga is a cure-all! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. It's long been on my list to try. One of these days soon I need to go find a class and give it a try.

  7. I love yoga Nisha, and your post about what to expect is perfect. The standard yoga is a little slow paced for me (i.e. boring) but the gym I go to offers some variations that I really enjoy. I wish I could end every day with a yoga class ~ so good for the body and soul!

    • I know what you mean – I really miss it when I'm gone for a while. My favorite class is "Good Night Yoga" which is a relaxing way to end the day. That would probably REALLY be boring for you! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Yoga is wonderful for so many reasons. I took my first gentle yoga class in 2008.This is a great article to help people to know what to expect. My excuse was I couldn't bend like other people. well, no one could in a beginner class. The results 6 weeks later were so worth it. Thanks!

  9. this is absolutely amazing yoga is the best

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