Joining a new Yoga class can be a bit nerve-wrenching. Therefore, it’s a good idea to think about what to bring to class and getting into the right mindset ahead of time.
As a minimum, you will need to bring some comfortable work-out clothes, a water bottle, a Yoga mat, a towel and a blanket. Over time, you may also need additional items such as Yoga blocks, a strap or a bolster. Yoga studios often provide essential Yoga equipment for free or a small charge so that you can test out a few classes.
If you are keen to turn up prepared to your Yoga class, check our essential guide below! This also outlines some other preparatory steps you can take to make sure your Yoga class is a great success.
1. Comfortable and Breathable Clothing
Yoga has been practised for millennia without any special Yoga gear. You could, therefore, start out with just wearing exercise clothes you already have.
In general, you will want any clothes you wear to be comfortable and allow you a wide range of movement. Clothes should be breathable so that you won’t sweat too much.
They should also be warm enough so that you won’t get cold when temperatures drop. Think layers: you can shed or add these depending on temperature.
How tight or loose should Yoga clothing be? Certainly loose enough to allow you the full range of Yoga movements. But not loose enough to reveal parts of your body you’d rather keep in the realms of privacy!
Remember that Yoga often involves inversions, that is, poses where parts of your body will be above your head. An example is a shoulder stand, where both pants and tops suddenly can fall the other way unless firmly kept in place.
Most people easily manage “to scrounge” something together from their existing wardrobe to meet these requirements. But once you have become fascinated by or even addicted to Yoga, you might want to consider some of the fantastic and specially designed Yoga attire that’s available now.
2. Water Bottle
Although most studios will have water and even water bottles available to buy for students, it pays to bring your own reusable water bottle with your choice of (filtered) water. There are some very groovy Yoga glass bottles available for sale now that might take your fancy.
Many Yoga poses – especially twisting Yoga poses – are very helpful for detoxification. Water is essential to remove these toxins from the body once released and also for replenishing any lost fluids during practice.
In general, staying hydrated both during and after your practice is vital to receiving the full benefits of your Yoga practice. But try not to drink a large quantity of water just before or during Yoga class, as otherwise you might feel quite uncomfortable.
How big should your water bottle be? Ideally, you would want to have a bottle that can hold at least 25 ounces (750 ml) to make sure you have enough to re-hydrate.
3. Your Own Yoga Mat
Most Yoga studios are able to provide mats for their students. But there is no guarantee that there will be enough mats available, nor that they will be clean enough from the previous usage. If you don’t want to buy your own Yoga mat yet, arrive at Yoga class early to make sure you will get a mat and bring a thin towel to place over the mat if necessary. Some Yoga studios also allow you to book Yoga mats online or via phone.
If you want to buy a Yoga mat, you might choose to start with one at the cheaper end of the spectrum of a huge range of Yoga mats available these days.
Key points include affordability, length and width, thickness, as well as the type of material. Length and width are especially important for taller students, while thickness makes a big difference to comfort levels. It is also important for people with existing injuries or joint issues – such as sore knees and feet – where additional cushioning can make a big difference to successful Yoga practice.
Yoga mat thicknesses typically range from 1/16 – 1/4 inches (3-7mm). The thinnest Yoga mats are generally used for travelling purposes. These can easily be folded and packed into a suitcase or backpack. If you have joint issues in feet or knees, a thicker Yoga mat will be better.
Another important factor to consider is also the Yoga mat material, which can range from ingredients considered to be toxic (PVC) to more eco-friendly Yoga mat options.
In short, the range is huge – including the available colors and designs – and it pays to do the research.
4. Yoga Towel
Any towel can serve as a Yoga towel, although there are some very nicely designed Yoga towels as well.
When do you need a Yoga towel? If you are a person who is inclined to sweat easily, or if you are participating in a Hot or Bikram Yoga class, you will definitely need a towel to wipe off your sweat. It is also a matter of courtesy towards other students to remain relatively fresh looking during a Yoga class
Choose your towel size in accordance with your needs. Often a small towel will be adequate.
5. A Blanket
You may need a blanket particularly if your Yoga class is gentle or slow, and/or if there is an extended relaxation (Savasana) session at the end of your class. This will help you keep warm and comfortable, and allow you to enjoy your class to the maximum.
Blankets are also great as Yoga props (see below) and can serve as knee pads or bolsters for modified Yoga poses.
6. Yoga Blocks And Other Props
If you are anything like me, you might expect to perform certain Yoga poses from the outset. But: we tend to forget that time and patience is required to develop the strength, flexibility and balance required to advance many Yoga poses. Sometimes it can take a long time to become proficient – depending on what our individual challenges and limitations are.
That is one of the wonderful challenges of Yoga – it tests our physical as well as our mental abilities.
Yoga props such as blocks, straps and bolsters allow Yoga students to slowly grow into more demanding yoga poses and stretches, without the risk of injury.
Some Yoga styles rely heavily on the use of props, such as Hatha, Iyengar, Yin and Restorative Yoga. Here, Yoga props become essential elements of practice.
7. What To Wear On Your Feet
Usually, Yoga is done barefoot. This allows our feet to connect to the earth and its energy. It’s a wonderful feeling and crucial to the Yoga experience.
However, there are exceptions to this, for example, doing Yoga in cold weather or outside (or both). In these instances, you might want to wear specially designed non-slip Yoga socks or a pair of non-slip exercise shoes.
8. A Change Of Clothes
We’re nearly at the end of the essential bits and pieces you need to bring to a Yoga class.
But don’t forget a change of clothes or what you need to take a shower (and spruce up after). This is likely the case if you have been in a particularly demanding or sweaty Yoga class, or if you want to go back to work or out with friends after a class.
9. Have A Snack Handy
You are bound to be hungry after a yoga class, and a quick snack may just help you tie you over to your next meal. A piece of fruit such as a banana or apple, together with a few nuts, will be perfectly adequate, as would a protein bar or smoothie.
10. Additional Tips
Do Some Research Ahead Of Time
Even with all the preparation over what to bring to your Yoga class, you might still feel a bit nervous about what to expect. A little research goes a long way to calm those fears.
Check out the website of the Yoga studio you intend to go to and find out as much as you can about the class, the teacher and the equipment required (and available). If it is a community Yoga class, you could try and get the telephone number of the Yoga teacher to have a personal chat, or talk to one of the students.
Some yoga studios will also allow you to just come and have look at the studio and a class ahead to time, to allow you to familiarize yourself with the environment.
Make sure you check out the location of the Yoga class in detail: where exactly is the studio? How long will it take you to get there? Is there parking if needed?
Many studios offer online bookings and payments – this will ensure your space and save time at the other end.
Get To Class Early
That’s a biggie. Extra time will help you find parking and the studio with plenty of time. You will also have the freedom to choose a space in the Yoga class that suits you.
It would also give you time to have a good chat with the Yoga teacher. This is especially important if you have any limitations or injuries. The yoga teacher will advise you how to modify any poses in the forthcoming class or offer advice on using props.
If you have time and the courage, try to have a chat with one or two other students before the class! You might get some key questions answered and feel more at ease.
When To Eat Before Yoga
Try to stop eating 2-3 hours before the Yoga class. Yoga practice on an empty stomach is much more enjoyable. Within 2-3 three hours of a class, limit yourself to light snacks such as those described above.
Keep An Open Mind
Keep an open mind about the Yoga class. Try not to give up if it is not perfect. Endeavour to talk any concerns over with your teacher first.
But: in the end, a Yoga class must meet your personal needs and limitations. It is YOUR Yoga journey and you decide what is right for you.
Let that underpin your decisions as the Yoga class goes on. If something hurts, stop doing it, use a prop or resort to an easier pose. Should exhaustion hit, take a break, have a sip of water and collect your thoughts.
If a Yoga class is truly not suited to you, talk to the Yoga teacher or studio employees to find what other classes might be of better benefit.
Wishing you the very best on your Yoga journey.