Hello all of you beautiful yogis, this week we’re focusing on (1) how to know what level your practice is at, (2) how to make those “money moves” (to quote Cardi B), and (3) what general etiquette is expected at almost every yoga studio!
Woo-hoo!! When I first started out my yoga practice, I had no idea what class I should take, what to bring, what to do, what Sanskrit was, etc. And that’s okay! You aren’t expected to be a professional “yogi” (? Is that a thing?) on your first session, but do try to keep yourself as informed as possible through this article to ensure you’re going to be happy and safe for your first (or umpteenth) yogi class!
Level Up? Level Down? Where are you at?!
Many yoga studios across the United States (and beyond!) have adopted a 3-level system. In order to best understand what level is best for you, or for you to start out with, check out the descriptions below! Note: if your studio doesn’t follow this system, that’s ok!, Just ask them to give you an understanding of their different levels.
Slower classes, typically meant for beginners. These classes help you to get acquainted with the various yoga poses and even some Sanskrit (usually accompanied with the English translation as well). This class may also benefit you if you’re recovering from an injury or if you’ve taken a hiatus from yoga for a while. Even though Level 1 typically is designed for beginners I know I sometimes struggle in these classes because the poses are held longer (they may take a lot more strength and mental focus). Trying out this level can be beneficial regardless of how far into your yogi process you are!
Level 1 is slower and designed for beginners but poses are held longer.
Foundational knowledge of poses and breath required. Level 2 expands upon what you learned in Level 1 with alignment, transitions, and flowing from one pose to another. A difference you may notice from Level 1 to Level 2 is that the instructor may demonstrate less, simply utilizing words to guide the class while walking around to make adjustments/give you suggestions for modifications if necessary. Strength and flexibility continue to develop within this level!
Level 2 class instructors walk around to guide or make adjustments on your intermediate poses.
Work on more advanced poses, continue to develop the body and breath connection. Level 3 requires more mental focus, strength, and ability to modify poses if you need to. Depending on the studio/instructor, you may only hear Sanskrit spoken throughout the class. In my experience Level 3 was a great way to expose myself to new poses I may not otherwise have the confidence to try out. This being said, I also find Level 3 to be just as challenging mentally as it is physically. If you feel comfortable with the instructor/studio try one of these classes out and see how it goes!
Level 3 is about advanced poses and a great way to expose yourself to new poses.
Are you checking out a studio that doesn’t use any of the above levels? Don’t fret, there are other ways to translate the Level lingo!
– SCHEDULE A PRIVATE SESSION! – Scheduling a private lesson can be a great way to better understand what classes will best suit you moving forward. This hands-on personalized session may also better help you to understand what your body is capable of and/or what it needs!
– CALL THE STUDIO! – Simply calling the studio and asking what they would recommend for you is another great option. The instructor/desk worker may have some insight as to what would best work for you to make your first yoga experience as great as possible!
– TRY OUT A BEGINNER CLASS! – If all else fails, just take the class that says “beginner” somewhere in the title! There’s no shame in starting from the beginning, and taking the beginner class is a great way to start off your yoga journey!
You may have a private lesson, call the studio, or try out a beginner class.
How do I make money moves?
Now that you’ve gained a better understanding of the various levels most yoga studios have, let’s talk about climbing up that yogi experience ladder. As you take yoga classes regularly, you will notice an increase in strength, flexibility, and mental focus. Through working on your poses and staying true to your body you will find yourself experiencing ease and flow throughout your practices. All I can say (from personal experience) is regular practice and time will help you to make those yogi gains!
Completely new to a studio yoga class?
1. BE ON TIME/EARLY
Give yourself about 15 minutes (or 20 if you’re paranoid of being late like me) to fill out any paperwork the studio may have. While you’re filling out these forms take a second and ask the front desk worker/yoga instructor what they would recommend for your body (especially if you have any injuries), experience level, and even heat tolerance!
2. HUSH THAT PHONE UP
There’s nothing worse than settling into a nice savasana after a hot, sweaty class when you’re interrupted with various beeps, boops, and vibrations. Before you unroll (or unfold!) your mat and saddle up for practice take a second and mute your phone (I put mine in “Do Not Disturb” mode) – because trust me, you earned that savasana and don’t need any distractions.
3. GET YOUR H20 ON
Between the twists and the turns and the body heat from all of your fellow yogi friends, class can get hot and sweaty! In order to keep yourself healthy and safe, make sure that you’re staying hydrated. Drink a glass or two before class, take water breaks throughout the flow, and chug some after your practice! You don’t want to pass out/get ill from being dehydrated, so put your body first and lap up that luscious water!
Be about 15 minutes early, put your phone on a “Do Not Disturb” mode, & keep yourself hydrated.
Starting out on a yoga journey is unique as compared to other fitness classes, especially because progress is not always easy to see. Be both focused and patient with your body, with your breath, and with your practice; less upon the levels or class titles. Ultimately, fit yourself to the class (even if it hurts your ego), don’t try to force the class to fit you.
How about all of you lovely people, do you have any funny stories about taking a class that was too much for your first time? Any yogi etiquette that you weren’t aware of before stepping on that mat at a new studio? Have any advice for emerging yogis as they “level up”?
Thanks so much everyone for your contributions, I can’t wait to hear back from all of you!
Peace, love, and namaste!
Yoga Alliance-registered yoga teacher, entrepreneur and professional writer based in Thousand Oaks, California. She loves sharing yoga and yoga philosophy with people all around the world through her teaching and writing, with the intent of helping others become their healthiest and most confident selves! You can find her at www.facebook.com/HaileyLuderYoga or www.haileyluder.com