At yoga class

Plan to get to the studio at least ten minutes before your first yoga class to find a spot where you feel most comfortable. If you are going to a class that is popular (because of the teacher or the time of day), try to get there 15 to 20 minutes ahead of time. Take off your shoes and socks before you walk into the room; sometimes studios have cubbies for your shoes, right inside the yoga room. If you are not sure, ask the front desk or just watch what everyone else is doing. Whether you borrow a mat from the studio or bring your own, make sure you unroll it facing the instructor. Be sure to tell the instructor whether you have any injuries, especially a recent one, so he or she can give you appropriate modifications.

 

Breathe: It's common for new students to hold their breath during yoga poses they find challenging. Breathing deeply can help you relax. In the beginning, don't worry about matching the instructor's breathing instructions exactly; just don't hold your breath.

Practice your basic poses at home: Students at my studios always practice at home. I have a lot of type A personalities, and they want to really “nail the pose.” If you practice some of the basic poses at home, such as Downward Dog, Upward Dog, Warrior 1 and Warrior 2, which are part of any beginner yoga class, you will feel more comfortable when you do come to class.

Don't leave in the middle of Corpse pose: Most yoga classes end with Corpse pose, also called Savasana (pronounced sha-VASS-ahnah). With this pose, you lie flat on your back, close your eyes, and relax. You never want to walk out of a class when they are in Corpse pose. If you have to leave, do it before.

Namaste: Don't be scared off when your instructor bows her head as if in prayer, clasps her hands together in front of her heart and says, "Namaste" (pronounced nah-mas-TAY). You'll notice the class says it back as well. This Sanskrit word means "I honor you" and is normally said at the end of class.