The Ultimate Guide to Yoga Classes

September 5 | Beginner Yogi | The Practice |

by Yoga Six

Ultimate Yoga Class Guide

What do I need for yoga classes?

What should I wear during yoga classes?

What should I do when I arrive at my first class?

What are the basic yoga poses and terms I should know?

What are the different yoga classes and which class is right for me?

What are the mental benefits of yoga?

How does yoga change your body?

Short Term Benefits Long Term Benefits

What do I need for yoga classes?

bring-to-yoga-class

All you really need for yoga class is yourself! Everything else is available in the studio for use, rent or purchase. Bring a mat, towel and water if you can, but don’t worry if you forget or don’t yet have a mat or towel. We offer Manduka mats and yoga towels at all of our studios so you can rent whatever you need. We have water bottles available for purchase, or you can fill your own water bottle in our studio. Each Yoga Six studio is fully stocked with blocks, straps, bolsters, blankets, weights and other equipment for you to use in any of our yoga or Boot Camp classes. In addition, our studios feature well-stocked retail boutiques where you can purchase the technical and lifestyle active wear as well your own Manduka mats and towels, other yoga equipment and accessories. Come to class with an open mind and you’re ready to begin your practice!

What should I wear during yoga classes?

yoga class outfit recommendation

There is no required uniform—just wear fitted exercise clothing that won’t impede your movement or comfort! Avoid anything with bulk that might get in the way of your movement or make lying down uncomfortable. Also take the temperature of the class into consideration. In a Deep Stretch class, a semi-fitted tee is fine, but in a hot yoga class a tee shirt will stick to your sweaty skin uncomfortably. Instead, wear active clothing that wicks away sweat and helps keep you cool. Tie your hair up and out of your face so you can practice inversions and floor postures without your hair getting in the way. A fabric headband is often helpful in heated classes, too. Consider both your physical and emotional comfort level when dressing for class. Inversions cause a baggy shirt to come down over your head, impeding your sight and showing more than you intended. On the bottom, wear fitted exercise shorts, capris or full-length yoga pants to keep you cool and ensure your teacher can make sure your alignment is correct. All our classes and studios are shoes-free, so don’t worry about footwear, even in our Boot Camp classes.

What should I do when I arrive at my first class?

arrive 10 minutes early to yoga class

Arrive to your yoga class at least 10 minutes early so you can sign in, leave your shoes and other things in a locker or cubby and find a comfortable spot in the room to set up your mat. Use this time to run to the bathroom, refill your water and stretch and relax on your mat to get in the right mind space. If you’re new to yoga or to our studio and you’re not sure where the teacher will set up, watch how other students set their mats up and follow their lead. Whether this is your first yoga class ever, your first class of this type or your first class at this particular studio, introduce yourself to the instructor. Tell them whether you have any physical concerns or injuries so they can provide any necessary modifications and can help adjust your poses accordingly. If you ever feel lost or feel like a pose is too advanced, you can always watch a more advanced student, or simply pause in mountain pose or child’s pose to observe and catch your breath.

What are the basic yoga poses and terms I should know?

Names of Basic Yoga Poses

When you take your first yoga class, you might feel intimidated by the ease with which so many students follow instructions in Sanskrit. But not to worry—most instructors teach class using both the Sanskrit and English terms, and you’ll find that many terms and poses are repeated over the course of a class’s sequences so you’ll learn quickly. First, it’s helpful to know some of the Sanskrit vocabulary so you know what these words mean when you hear them in class. In yoga, we talk a lot about our breath and the Sanskrit word pranayama refers to the ability to control your breath and maintain awareness of it. Pranayama is a vital part of your yoga practice as you move through different asanas, or poses. Finally, you’ll hear the word Namaste at the end of class—it’s a salutation meaning, “I honor the divine in you.” Ending with Namaste shows respect and gratitude for each person in the room. These Sanskrit words will become second nature before long, and the poses will start to come easily, too, once you know the basics. In fact, you may already be familiar with some of them! You’ve probably heard someone referring to Downward Dog or Warrior before, but you may not know what that pose looks like. Here are five basic yoga poses to get you started.

  • Mountain Pose: Standing with feet together and arms at your sides, inhale and raise your hands over your head with straight arms until they’re palm to palm. Stretch your fingertips toward the sky while keeping your shoulders relaxed.
  • Downward Dog: Begin on your hands and knees with hands beneath your shoulders and knees under your hips. Walk your hands forward several inches, spreading your fingers and pressing your palms into your mat before curling your toes under and pressing your hips toward the ceiling. Lift your hips until your back is flat, keeping feet hip-width apart and your knees bent slightly. Pull your shoulder blades down and your bellybutton in toward your spine with arms engaged.
  • Cobra: Lie face down with hands under your shoulders and legs extended with the tops of your feet on your mat. Engage your abdominals and tuck your hips under, keeping your pelvic floor tight. Press your shoulders away from your ears and push through your index fingers and thumbs as you raise your chest toward the wall in front of you until the tops of your hips are slightly lifted off the ground.
  • Warrior: Stand with legs 3 – 4 feet apart and turn your right foot at a 90-degree angle, turning your left toes in slightly. Lift your arms straight out to the sides with the palms turned down to the floor, keeping your shoulders relaxed and arms engaged. Bend your right knee to 90 degrees, keeping your knee directly over your ankle. Look out over your right hand, drawing your head and spine up toward the ceiling.
  • Tree Pose: Stand with feet together and arms resting at your sides. Keeping your weight on your left leg, lift your right leg and place the sole of your right foot on the inside of your left thigh or left ankle, keeping both hips facing forward. Get your balance and bring your hands in towards heart center in prayer position.

What are the different yoga classes and which class is right for me?

Yoga Six Classes

Yoga Six offers six different types of yoga classes at all of our studios, so you can match your goals and fitness level with the benefits offered by each class. Whether you’re just starting out in yoga or looking to expand your exercise repertoire, our Yoga Six studios have a class that’s right for you.

  1. For beginners or students getting back into the fitness routine, our Deep Stretch class is ideal. Deep Stretch builds slowly and evenly. Most of the poses in this class take place on the floor and are held for 1-2 minutes, allowing you to breath into the stretch to open and relax your muscles. The body benefits of the Deep Stretch class include increased flexibility, joint mobility, and improved alignment. Even for practiced athletes, this class can be restorative and beneficial.
  2. Flow Yoga is our most accessible yoga class for new students, but can be customized for more experienced yogis. Combining poses that gently engage your muscles, you’ll flow through the sequenced movements to open all the muscle groups. Moving in rhythm with your breath, oxygenated blood will circulate more efficiently throughout your body to improve energy and muscle function. The body benefits of Flow Yoga include reduced stress, improved energy and increased spinal integrity for a body and mind that feel more balanced.
  3. Students looking for a highly structured or a heated class will enjoy our Hot Yoga class. For this class, the studio is heated to facilitate movement during the set core sequence and to encourage circulation and detoxification. While only a baseline level of fitness is required for Hot Yoga, be aware that the heat can make these classes feel more intense. As such, teachers always give the option to rest, if needed, or take a more advanced pose when ready. Body benefits include improved flexibility, strength and balance.
  4. For more advanced students, Vinyasa connects sustained postures through dynamic movements. The class focuses on spinal movements and breath work to open the body and improve posture. Because the movements are connected, these 60 to 75 minute classes have a fluid, dance-like feel. Our Vinyasa classes provide many body benefits, including improved mood, cardiovascular health and sharper mental function.
  5. For our most advanced yoga students, Power Yoga is a challenging workout created to build energy and endurance. This class takes place in a heated room and moves quickly through a flow meant to work your body and get your heart pumping. Power Yoga emphasizes physicality and because it’s meant to challenge you, its body benefits include increased cardiovascular health, strength and coordination.
  6. Boot Camp in not a yoga class, but a cross-training workout that uses dumbbells, bands and bodyweight exercises to build strength and endurance. This class is meant to be challenging, using high intensity interval training to condition your muscles with a high-energy workout. Boot Camp will tire you out, but in a good way. If you’re looking for a new, exciting workout, try it and experience body benefits like increased power, agility and strength.

What are the mental benefits of yoga?

mental benefits of yoga

While the descriptions above primarily discuss the physical benefits of yoga, there are many mental benefits, too! Yoga is different from many other forms of exercise because it has a specific philosophical component. Yoga focuses on centering your body and mind and as such, can have a significant positive impact on your mental wellbeing. Pranayama, or the control and awareness of one’s breath, can be used to relieve stress, manage anxiety, control pain, and improve sleep. Many yogis use the breathing techniques they learn in yoga to help them through difficult times or trying situations. Breathwork calms your body by oxygenating your blood and telling your brain to calm down when you feel out of control. Mindfulness, another tenet of yoga, is also helpful in times of stress or pain. Through yoga, people can learn to be present in the moment and handle one thing at a time. This helps manage anxiety and allows them to get through situations that would otherwise feel insurmountable. Practicing yoga also increases your brain’s production of endorphins and dopamine, making you feel happier and calmer for improved quality of life.

How does yoga change your body?

yoga-change-bogy

In addition to the mental benefits of yoga, yoga can change your body over time. Yoga causes short-term improvements in your physical body that you can feel relatively quickly, and you’ll continue to see more benefits the longer you practice for advantages that benefit you for a lifetime.

Short Term Benefits

Immediately after class you’ll experience improved brain function, lower stress hormones and increased flexibility, which can build over time. After several months of consistent yoga practice, you’ll see more significant changes including lower blood pressure, relief from chronic neck and back pain, fewer headaches, improved lung function, improved balance and more efficient overall motion. After continued yoga practice, you’ll notice your improved posture and muscle function mean your body feels better in general. You’ll have fewer aches and pains, so you won’t be moving your body in unusual ways to compensate.

Long Term Benefits

longterm benefits of yoga

The long-term benefits of yoga are incredible. Improved strength and flexibility translates to stronger bones and fewer injuries over time. Consistent yoga practice helps you maintain a healthier weight and a yogi’s risk of heart disease is significantly lower. Finally, since yoga is helpful in easing stress, anxiety and depression, and these conditions can impact your physical health, yoga can ultimately lead to significantly improved physical health overall.