New to Yoga? New to the Area?
We’re pretty laid-back here. We love making beginners feel comfortable and confident on the mat! Making you feel at home so that you can enjoy yoga’s many benefits is a lot more important to us than any fancy-schmancy yoga pose.
Looking for a welcoming, accessible class for brand new beginners?
Here are some tips to get you started if you’re new to yoga or to our studio:
Yoga is like anything else in that you’ll get out what you put in! For maximum benefit we recommend taking class at least twice a week. Some people enjoy our classes so much they come lots more frequently. You’ll feel the difference for yourself as you get stronger and more flexible, feel more agile, and develop tools for stress relief.
Let us know if:
This is your very first yoga class. (We get really happy when people try yoga for the first time.)
Something doesn’t feel good in your body (we can offer variations and modifications that will work better for you).
If it’s your very first time to the studio arrive around 10 minutes before class so we can do a little paperwork.
Browse our Frequently Asked Questions:
+ CAN I DO YOGA IF I’M NOT FLEXIBLE?
Definitely! Worrying about being too inflexible for yoga is like worrying about being too dirty to take a shower! Starting tight is the ideal way to begin your yoga practice. You’ll limber up with practice. We’ll teach you the safest, fastest, most effective ways to improve your range-of-motion and to feel more comfortable in your body.
+ WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?
Just wear something comfortable that you can move freely in. Expensive yoga pants aren’t necessary but overly baggy clothes can trip you up. your hair hangs down in your face when you put your head down you might prefer to put your hair up Yoga is practiced barefoot. (We don’t care if your feet aren’t pretty. Ours aren’t perfectly pedicured either.) Guys can wear sweatpants, or layer bike shorts beneath gym shorts.
+ I’VE NEVER TAKEN A YOGA CLASS BEFORE. WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT?
Most of our classes begin with about five minutes of centering that brings awareness to your breath. Our teachers usually offer some form of inspiration. They might read a quote or share a thought. We make a point of drawing connections between yoga and everyday life (which is that mind body connection people are always talking about).
Next our instructors will guide you through a series of yoga poses. You may break a sweat. Some of our classes are gentle, and others are more active. Every teacher has her or his own individual voice but you can expect every member of our team to pay attention to healthy biomechanics.
The instructor will not do the poses with you. (That’s something you should look for when shopping around for the highest quality yoga instruction.) Instead, our instructors move throughout the room so they can focus on you, and keep an eye on your technique. All of our instructors are skilled in offering options and modifications.
Some instructors play music in class and others don’t. The final five to ten minutes of class are spent practicing relaxation techniques.
You'll never be forced to chant OM, or do anything else that feels too hippy-dippy, religious, or uncomfortable.
+ WILL THE ROOM BE HOT?
No. Stamford Yoga Center is not a hot yoga studio. (Most hot yoga studios hold the temperature at around 105 degrees or even higher.) Expect the room to be around 75 degrees so that your muscles are comfortably limber and safe. Everyone’s internal thermostat is different. If you’re sensitive to temperature dress in layers.
+ WHAT SHOULD I BRING?
You might want a bottle of water. If you have a yoga mat bring it along. If you don’t have a mat just borrow one of ours (please wipe it down after class with the mat cleaner we provide so that it’s nice and clean for the next person). Other than that, just bring an open mind—we’ve got everything else.
+ CAN I DO YOGA IF I HAVE AN INJURY, MEDICAL CONDITION, OR SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCE?
Probably. Yoga can be custom tailored to accommodate almost anyone who wants to benefit, but check with your doctor. Our instructors are skilled at paying attention to more than one person at the same time but some conditions do require more focused individualized attention. In those instances we recommend working privately, or at least doing a few private lessons before attending group classes.
+ CAN I DO YOGA IF I’M PREGNANT?
Probably. Many women try yoga for the first time while they’re pregnant and absolutely swear by it, but touch base with your doctor.
Please let the instructor know that you’re pregnant so she can offer you prenatal modifications. We can’t always tell that you’re pregnant and are hesitant to ask.
A few pointers for practicing yoga during pregnancy: First and foremost make room for the baby. Don’t do any deep abdominal twisting, or deep forward bending, that puts unpleasant pressure on you or your baby. Don’t hold your breath in or out, or do any breathing techniques that pump your abdomen with vigorous exhalations. Don’t lie on your stomach or flat on your back once doing so becomes uncomfortable. Don’t get overheated or dehydrated. Don’t do deep backbends as the baby starts to grow; deep backbends put undue pressure on your own abdominal muscles. If you already have an inversion practice, and want to invert, enjoy inverting sensibly at the wall for as long as it feels good. If you haven’t yet learned how to do inversions then hold off until another time. After all, you're busy growing a person! Trust your body—if something doesn’t feel good then just skip it.
+ CAN I STILL COME TO CLASS IF I’M LATE?
Running around ten minutes late? Don’t sweat it! Come on down. Some yoga is always better than no yoga, and busy people probably need yoga most of all! If you arrive during centering just wait in the reception area until the centering concludes, and then enter quietly. (You'll know centering is over because people will start moving.) If you’re going to be much later than about ten minutes you should probably hold off until next time because you’ll miss the warm-up, which is important for safety and specific to the poses we’ll be practicing during class.
+ WHAT IF I HAVE TO LEAVE CLASS EARLY?
No problem! As a courtesy to your fellow students please go before final relaxation begins. If possible situate your mat in a spot where you can slip out without too much disruption.
+ CAN I LEAVE MY CELL PHONE ON DURING CLASS?
As a courtesy to fellow students we’d prefer you didn’t. We know that sometimes there are extenuating circumstances: in those instance please set your phone to vibrate during the active portion of class. During centering, final relaxation, and meditation we do ask that all cell phones be turned off.
+ CAN I WEAR PERFUME TO CLASS?
Thanks for asking! We’d appreciate it if you didn’t. Did you know some people are sensitive to scent that even a single spritz of perfume can take their breath away (not in the good way)? Stick with plain old soap and water. (Skip the lotion. It will turn your yoga mat into a slip and slide ride.) If you’ve been running around all day, and have gotten a little ripe, help yourself to a squirt of the fancy organic deodorant we keep in the bathroom.
+ WHAT IF I FORGET TO TURN MY PHONE OFF, AND IT RINGS DURING CLASS, AND I’M REALLY EMBARRASSED?
It’s not the end of the world. Every now and then even yoga teachers forget to turn our phones off. Just do us a solid and turn your phone off if it rings, okay? When a phone continues to make noise throughout the entire class then people might start throwing some stink eye. If your phone does ring and you have to answer it, please step of the studio first.
+ WHEN SHOULD I EAT?
You’ll want enough energy to fuel your body without being so full that it’s uncomfortable to move. A light snack about an hour before yoga is fine. If you just ate a twelve course holiday dinner you’ll probably want to wait 2-3 hours before practicing.
+ WHAT DOES “LISTEN TO MY BODY” MEAN?
Don't listen with your ears. Try paying attention to the way your body feels as you do yoga poses.
Think of stretching your muscles on a spectrum from 1-10; with 10 being so intense that it’s actually painful. Never stretch beyond 7. More stretch isn't better; you want just enough range of motion.
If you’re unintentionally holding your breath, grimacing, or feel your body tightening up, then your pose is too aggressive. Ease up and back off mindfully until you can breathe smoothly and deliberately again.
When you’re stretching a muscle, you should feel it in the entire length of the muscle—not in one hyper-specific place that you could point to with one finger. You definitely shouldn’t be feeling intense stretch in your joints (for example you shouldn’t be feeling much of anything at all in your knees, wrists, elbows, shoulder joints, hips, spine, etc.)
+ I’M NATURALLY FLEXIBLE. DOES THAT MEAN THAT I’LL BE NATURALLY GOOD AT YOGA?
It seems like it should work that way, right? But believe it or not naturally bendy people require a conservative approach to yoga. Your main yoga goal shouldn’t be stretching. Your focus should be on good alignment, strengthening your muscles, stabilizing your joints—and of course all the big picture benefits and stress relief that yoga offers. It’s important that naturally bendy people work with instructors who have a good understanding of biomechanics and anatomy. We’ve got oodles of experience working with bendy people at Stamford Yoga Center. (And then some! You can read all about it in my Yoga International article on this subject.)