I took my first series of yoga classes this year.

A friend wanted to celebrate her birthday with a hot yoga session with some of her closest girlfriends. I couldn't resist a birthday rooted in health; after all, holistic wellness is my thing. Contrary to my belief, though, yoga was not quite my thing – no matter how many times I had done it in my living room.


There were a few pointers that would have been helpful to me going into the session. Simple things like: downward dog at home is much different than downward dog in a 98-degree studio, and girl, drink water.

So, to provide you with a forewarning that I didn't particularly have, here are a few tips to help you as you begin your yoga journey.

Equipment.

Having the right equipment is important for making the most of your yoga experience. Before committing yourself to an hour-long yoga session, let's make sure you have the appropriate clothing and supplies:

Wardrobe.

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Be sure to wear the right sized, loose-fitting attire for yoga. Tight clothes can restrict movement and force you to constantly tug on your clothes – reducing your enjoyment of the exercise. Clothes that are too big are equally as uncomfortable and may have a hard time staying on in certain poses. It's important to have clothes that allow you the space and comfort to move fluidly.

Body Awareness.

Body movement is prevalent in any form of fitness, yoga especially. Paying attention to your body is equally as important. Below are some aspects of honoring your body you should be aware of:

Listen To Your Body.

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A lot of the meditation properties of yoga, at least in my experience, are about connecting with your body and letting it lead. Sure, the instructor is telling you what poses to do, but your body tells you how far into those poses it can go. Listen to your body. Modify when you must. Take breaks when needed and trust your own limitations. Like with any workout, it is not healthy to push yourself past exhaustion. You must listen to the lengths at which your body can or can't go. If your body says no more, get back into resting pose and allow your body to reset. If your body says "I can go further," do just that. Don't sell yourself short, but also, don't push yourself too far.

Mindfulness.

Yoga is not only a workout, it's a practice of mindfulness and meditation. To make the most of your session, it's important to master this practice as well:

 Don’t Compare.

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What I enjoyed most about yoga is that everyone is in a space of embracing their own ability. Once I realized that no one was watching me look like a fool, I was able to rest in the possibilities of my own body. You will not know every pose and you will not get every pose right – that is okay. The more I focused on myself, the more I was able to do.

It may seem like a lot of overwhelming information for your first time trying yoga, but all in all: have the right equipment (comfortable fitting attire, a yoga mat, and a towel are a necessity), listen to your body (don't push it past its limit), and master your mindfulness (find your peaceful place in the midst of your exercise). Combining all of this will ensure that you have a wonderful first experience!

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Featured image by Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

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