Not sure what to wear or if you'll be the only guy in the studio? Yoga and meditation instructor Michelle Fondin answers your most pressing—and sensitive—questions.
Despite yoga’s popularity, most practitioners aren’t expert yogis. Most students in yoga classes are new to the practice—and many have unanswered questions.
It can be daunting to even think about asking a question when you see that fit 20-something folding herself perfectly into every pose. Here are answers to the questions that even she might ask.
What Should I Wear to Class?
There are no rules. Make sure you’re comfortable and are not wearing clothes that are restricting in any way. Tighter fitting, stretchy clothes tend to work better. Make sure you glance at yourself in a mirror before you head out to class to make sure your clothes are not see-through.
Unless you have the funds and are certain you’ll love yoga, save your money, and wear simple exercise clothes to the first few classes. Yoga clothing can be quite expensive. Once you’re certain that you’ll continue with your yoga practice, invest in a quality pair of yoga pants.
I Have a Sweaty Feet Problem, Should I Wear Socks?
Many yoga students like to wear socks. You can purchase yoga-type socks that separate your toes like a glove and have grips at the bottom. Keep in mind, that these aren’t comfortable for everyone.
Bare feet in yoga are good for gripping the yoga mat and better for balance postures. Depending on your yoga mat, a little sweat shouldn’t make you too slippery. If you opt to keep your socks on, purchase a thinner yoga mat, at 1/8 th inch, to make balancing easier.
I Started My Period, Should I Still Go to Yoga Class?
There are several different schools of thought on doing yoga while menstruating. One teaching says that women should rest while menstruating and not do any strenuous physical activity. A common teaching is that you should stay clear of any pose that might impede the natural flow, which would include inversions.
In most yoga styles in the West, there is no hard and fast rule here, except to listen to your body and go with what it tells you regarding your yoga practice.
I’m Really Overweight. Can I Still Do Yoga?
As a yoga studio owner, this is a question I get all time. Yoga is a beautiful practice that, if taught properly, can be adaptable to anyone no matter what size and ability level. You may have to do some research into yoga studios that hold smaller classes and teachers who consistently provide modifications to poses.
Hatha yoga or Iyengar yoga tends to work well with people who are overweight since they are slower practices. You must, however, remember to be patient with yourself. Give yourself permission to opt out of poses if you feel you’re not ready. And if you experience health issues as a result of your weight, please consult your doctor before adopting a new physical fitness routine.
Will Yoga Interfere With My Religious Beliefs?
The true meaning of the word yoga is union. What we celebrate in yoga is the union of our mind, body, soul, and spirit. The interpretation of what that means is left up to you. In over 26 years of taking yoga classes, I’ve never been talked to or persuaded to change my beliefs.
Yoga is a personal practice. You will extract from it what you put into it. The benefits of yoga are multilayered. I have found that connection to yourself can only enhance your spiritual beliefs. If chanting in Sanskrit makes you feel uncomfortable, try another class where the instructor doesn’t use chanting.
Will I Be the Only Guy in Yoga Class?
A 2012 study conducted by Yoga Journal and collected by Sports Marketing Surveys USA found that out of all the yoga practitioners, 17.8 percent were men. While you may be the minority, you probably won’t be the only one, depending on the size of the class.
Don’t shy away for that reason, however. Yoga is a great complement to a cardio and weight training program and may help prevent injuries. Your presence in a yoga class may encourage other guys to give it a try, too.
What If I Can’t Do All the Yoga Poses?
Let me tell you a secret: most yoga teachers can’t complete all the poses. It’s normal, especially as a beginner, that you won’t be able to do them all. If you’re in a class where the teacher insists that you must do every pose, find another instructor.
Child’s pose or puppy’s pose are good postures to move into while you wait for the next pose if one is too difficult. Another option is to ask your instructor for modifications.
What If I Fall or Fart? Or Both?
Respond as you see appropriate. If you find it funny, then laugh. If you pass gas loudly, you can always look over to your neighbor accusingly. All joking aside, if you fall, get back up and try it again.
All athletes fall at some point. The idea is to relax, stay focused, and remember that no one is perfect.