As the world is opening back up and students are returning to yoga classes in-person, some yogis are feeling anxious about the transition to (or back to) the studio! Whether you just began your yoga practice virtually during the pandemic or you practiced previously but haven’t yet returned to the studio post-quarantine, here are some tips to consider before heading to class.
1. Pick a studio that meshes with your values
In order to have a comfortable and beneficial yoga experience, you need to choose a studio where you feel safe, welcome, and at home. Feel free to browse around online to search for studios in your area. Look at their websites, especially the “About Us” section. Within the first few sentences, hopefully you’ll be able to tell what their priorities are. Want a studio that’s zero-waste? Queer-friendly? Trauma-informed? Do your research and make sure that your studio is the right fit for you.
2. Find out their policies around Covid
There’s no question: times have changed. No matter when you’re reading this, you’ll need to know what your studio’s policies are surrounding health and safety. How many students are allowed in the studio at once? Are masks required? Do students need to have proof of vaccination before coming? Is there a waiver you’ll have to sign? Make sure you know what sanitary measures are in place so that you know you’ll be protected, and you won’t accidentally violate any of their policies when you get to the studio.
3. Read about the class types and teachers
Once you’ve chosen a studio that feels welcoming and safe for you, it’s time to choose a class that will feel the same. Check out the studio’s class offerings and see what kind of class sounds good to you. Are you into power yoga? Or are you looking for something more restorative? Some studios have their own unique names for classes, so read the descriptions if the class names are unclear. Either way, pick out something that sounds like your style.
On the same note, pick a teacher who’s a good fit for you! Most studios have little bios about their teachers on their websites, so read about the teachers and see if you can take a class with someone who resonates with you.
4. Sign up for class ahead of time
It’s SO annoying to plan your whole day around a class just to arrive at the studio and find out there’s no room for you. Don’t let this happen to you! Once you find a class you want to take, book it online or over the phone ahead of time if you can! That will save you some stress, and possibly annoyance, when you arrive at the studio. Especially post-Covid, some studios even require you to sign up for class before your arrival. Also, if you’re feeling apprehensive about attending your first class in-person, having it already booked will hold you accountable (but make sure you know the studio’s cancellation policies before you book, just in case something comes up!)
5. Find out about props
Are you a yogi who loves to use props? Make sure you know if they’re available at the studio or if you’ll need to bring your own. Especially during Covid, some studios have stopped letting students borrow props and mats. Other studios have a plethora of props, like bolsters, blankets, blocks, and straps. Make sure to check beforehand and if you love using props, feel free to bring your own.
If you have a mat, I recommend bringing your own! Most studios have small fees for renting mats, and some studios have stopped renting out the mats altogether since Covid.
6. Pick out a comfy outfit
One of the most common questions asked by new yogis going to a studio for the first time is about what to wear to class. The truth is: it doesn’t matter! There’s no dress code for what you should and shouldn’t wear to a yoga class other than this: wear what feels good, what you can move freely in, and what won’t be distracting while you’re moving around. That’s all! Don’t get stuck thinking about how you look instead of how you’re feeling while you flow.
7. Arrive early
Make sure to arrive at the studio with plenty of time to prepare for class. One of the least relaxing ways to start a class is rushing into the studio at the last minute! Try to arrive at least 15 minutes before class so that you have time to check in, use the bathroom, and set up your mat/space in a way that feels comfortable for you.
Also, arriving early gives you an opportunity to talk to the teacher before class. Especially if you’re pregnant, injured, or have other circumstances you want your teacher to know about, it’s so beneficial to let the teacher know before you start practice so that they can help provide variations that will keep you safe and healthy throughout class. Meeting your teacher before class helps you develop a sense of trust and feel more at home in the studio space.
8. Don’t worry about what’s going on around you
Inevitably, there will be yogis of all different shapes, sizes, and abilities in class. It’s easy to look around and compare yourself to other yogis when you’re in a Zoom class. It’s even easier when those students are in the room around you. Do your best to tune out and focus on what’s going on within the four corners of your mat. And remember that other people aren’t worried about what you’re doing either!
9. Do what you’ve gotta do
Just because you’re in a studio doesn’t mean you have to do every single thing the teacher says. You’re allowed to take a variation of any pose that feels better in your body, take a child’s pose if you’re getting tired, and stop for a sip of water. You’re not required to do every single pose – you can even leave the room to take a breather or a bathroom break if needed! Remember: this is YOUR practice, and you can always do whatever you need to do in order to make it feel awesome. At home, OR in the studio.
10. Give feedback at the end
I never realized this before becoming a teacher, but feedback from students is everything! Knowing that a student enjoyed class is what makes teaching feel worthwhile. At the same time, if a student comes up and asks a question about class, it’s also incredibly beneficial for the teacher! It helps us learn how to teach it in a clearer way or provide variations that we may not have considered before. Yoga teachers are students, too: we’re always learning new ways to serve our students and your feedback is a super important part of that!
I hope these tips will help you feel prepared and confident when you do decide to return to classes in-person. In the meantime, you can always flow with me from home on Youtube! Let me know in the comments down below if you have any other questions about returning to yoga classes in-person. Have fun getting back out there on your mat!