7 Top Tips for a Happy First Yoga Class

yoga newbie, new to yoga, first yoga class, starting yoga
7 Top Tips for a Happy First Yoga Class

Joining a first yoga class as a new student can be a daunting experience but with a little advance preparation it can be the start of a life changing journey

I love yoga and would recommend anyone to give it a try but I also understand that, for some, the first visit to a class can be intimidating.

I’ve attended many classes, both as a student and as an instructor, where I’ve observed new students’ first class nerves.  Initially, attending a class can be daunting but as the unfamiliar becomes familiar and the student becomes more comfortable in the studio surroundings then yoga begins to work its magic.

How to prepare for your first yoga class

Here are 7 top tips to ease you into a class and ensure a happy first yoga class experience!

  1. word of mouth  If you can get a recommendation of a teacher/studio from a like minded friend this is an excellent place to start.  You have a ready made connection to the instructor and studio.
  2. arrive early  There will be a little bit of paperwork to complete before your first yoga class.  A few extra minutes will also give you the chance to familiarize yourself – well, find the restroom and water fountain location, at least!
  3. choose beginner  Not because I’m saying you’re no good at yoga before you’ve even started!  A beginners class is always a good place to start (or level 1/intro class/new to yoga or however else a studio describes it).   No matter how athletic, fit or flexible you may be,  a beginners class will give you a better understanding of the poses and important alignment points at an easier to follow pace.
  4. chat to the instructor  If at all possible, grab a moment to introduce yourself and chat about any concerns.  Most instructors will approach you if but sometimes, with instructors arriving close to class start and large student numbers in popular classes, there is not always an opportunity.
  5. keep an open mind  Different instructors teach yoga in different styles.  One instructor might teach a slower class with lots of quiet, meditative time.  Another teacher’s class might be faster paced with lots of repetition of poses and background music.  Try to be open minded and if your first class isn’t the one for you give someone else a go.  Your first yoga class will help you gauge the kind of class that’s right for you.
  6. dress comfortably  Wear the clothes that feel comfortable for you.   Remember that some of the poses involve bending forward and twisting.  If those low rise pants ride down when you fold forward don’t wear them.  Or that top is sooo low neck that you’re constantly adjusting it just don’t go there.  Think ease of movement and personal comfort.  A t-shirt and stretchy leggings work just as well as the latest body forming fashion outfit
  7. sense of humor & a smile  Arm yourself with a sense of humor and anything is possible 🙂





Better Living Yoga

Better Living Yoga, Aliso Viejo

Better Living Yoga fills a particularly unique niche in the yoga world as it is a studio that specializes in classes for the over 40 age group (although all ages are welcome and encouraged to attend too, of course).  The studio has a great community atmosphere and, I have to say, is probably the sweetest smelling yoga studio I’ve ever visited 😉

location  on a small mall off of Aliso Creek Rd in Alison Viejo  

parking  very easy.  shared with other businesses on the mall

welcome  excellent.  the welcome started when one of the studio’s regular students chatted to me outside the studio and kindly introduced me to one of the instructors.  I met two of the instructors and the owner who were all very friendly and welcoming.    The owner was particularly helpful and took the time to show me around the studio pointing out studios, restrooms and treatment room.  A few days after my first class I received a friendly, follow up call to check on my experience.

facility  2 yoga studios, 1 treatment room, restrooms.  water freely available in reception

studio environment  Light, bright and fresh, beautifully maintained and well organized.

props  Lots available.  blocks, blankets, straps & bolsters aplenty

schedule   morning classes 7 days a week.  late afternoon and evening classes every weekday.  class lengths range from  60 -75 minutes.

yoga styles and instructors  A mixture of gentle flow, restorative, yin yoga.  The studio also teach their own BLY signature yoga series, which is a set sequence of poses devised by instructors at the studio.  The foundations class offers Iyengar inspired hatha yoga instruction.

capacity  Two large studio spaces.  The classes I attended were not overcrowded and mat spacing was comfortable for the students.

other services offered   Mat pilates classes, and body treatments

workshops & trainings   A variety of great workshops across a range of topics including yoga, reiki healing, aromatherapy (at the time of my visit).  some workshops include a glass of wine – what’s not to like?

website    Very easy to use and understand.  lists links to some interesting yoga themed articles

retail  Retail area in reception

value  Single class $22 /  ten class package $180 / monthly auto renewal $148 autopay – $225 non autopay (Oct 2016)

deals   New student deal $49 unlimited month pass (Oct 2016) & $90 for a 10 class pass.  regular deals on groupon & similar deal websites.  you can also sign up online for a free class


YogaWorks Costa Mesa

YogaWorks Costa Mesa

YogaWorks is the big cheese of yoga studios.  There are 5 branches in Orange County, many more in LA and beyond.  Lots of experienced instructors.  Lots of class choice.  If you prefer a larger brand to smaller scale independent then this could be the yoga studio for you. 

location   On a large, busy retail mall with easy access to the 55.   Steps up to the studio on the upper level but elevator available.

parking   Lots of it but time your arrival to dovetail with the end of the previous class – otherwise a longer walk across a busy parking lot 🙂

welcome    There are always one or two staff on reception to greet you.  With such a large number of students coming and going it is can be a little hectic and impersonal at busy times.  On my first visit I was given friendly verbal directions for the studio but not a guided tour.

  • 3 yoga studios & 1 pilates studio
  • varied schedule with lots of choice
  • lots of great instructors

facility  3 yoga studios, 1 pilates studio.  Changing cubicles available and large restroom.  Herbal tea & water freely available in reception

studio environment  Of the three yoga studios, 2 are very big rooms and the 3rd is smaller but works well for a smaller group.  All have windows with lots of light but due to it’s central location there is some traffic noise. The studios all share the same corridor which can get a little snug at class changeover time and if you are arriving directly after a hot, sweaty class the air can be a little, well let’s say, heavy!

props  Lots available.  More blocks, blankets, straps & bolsters than you can shake a stick at.

schedule   Very big and varied.  Lots of choice from a 6.30am  to 7.30pm, 7 days a week.  Class lengths from 60 minutes – 90 minutes

yoga styles and instructors  Lots of YogaWorks method classes (a style of yoga devised by YogaWorks) as well as vinyasa (flow style, fast moving), gentle, restorative and prenatal.  Other styles include Iyengar yoga, Yoga Tune Up, Kundalini yoga and Yin yoga.   Lots of choice for instructors.

capacity   The two large studios are big spaces that can accommodate many students.  I’ve attended classes with large numbers of students and the room is filled to capacity which may, or may not, appeal!

other services offered  Mat pilates, pilates with equipment, barworks & sculpt works (other body workouts – pilates, ballet and fitness based, not yoga)

workshops & trainings   A variety of great workshops and several teacher trainings annually (across the YogaWorks studios)

website    Very polished.  Lots of information all on one site.  Can be tricky to navigate initially simply because there is so much material there

retail  Large retail area in reception offering mats, props, clothing, books, jewellery & skincare among other things.  Regular sales and occasional pop up shops

  • single class $25  /  ten class package $190
  • intro deal 2 weeks unlimited $25 (Sept 16)
  • regular Groupon deals

value  Single class $25 /  ten class package $190 / monthly auto renewal $100 – $135 month (Sept 2016)

deals   intro deal 2 weeks unlimited $25 (Sept 2016)  & regular deals on groupon & similar deal websites

loyalty scheme  Offers a loyalty scheme.  Points based on attendance.  Redeem for merchandise discounts or private lessons (Sept 2016)


A Yoga Studio for the over 40’s

Yoga for the over 40's is a growing demographic
Yoga for the over 40’s is a growing demographic

Seniors are the largest growing segment of the US population with numbers growing year on year.  As yoga continues to gain popularity one yoga studio has embraced these changes to cater for a very specific demographic – the over 40 age group.

Yoga studios are aplenty in the US.  Plenty of choice, styles, facilities and instructors.  Some studios specialize based on class style, such as hot yoga or vinyasa yoga, or on a specific school of yoga study such as Iyengar or Bikram. This particular yoga studio specializes in yoga for the over 40’s age group.

Founded by David Webster in the Summer of 2013, Better Living Yoga in Aliso Viejo, California opened its studio doors in March 2014.

David recognized that ‘Yoga for seniors is a demographic that is not being served and it is the largest growing market’.  We are all living much longer and by 2030 older adults will account for roughly 20% of the U.S. population.

This particular studio is catering for a very specific demographic – the over 40’s.

As we age we can anticipate a whole range of conditions and ailments coming our way.  Diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, osteoporosis, heart disease, depression and cancer to name but a few. Research carried out by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) discovered that two out of every three older Americans have multiple chronic conditions

Not appealing, I know, however we can adapt and, in some cases, limit the effect and impact of these age related conditions using the tools we learn when practicing yoga and meditation.

‘Yoga for seniors is a demographic that is not being served and it is the largest growing market’

The primary focus for Better Living Yoga is to cater for an older community with a ‘non-competitive approach and attention to alignment & safety to help reverse and prevent chronic conditions’.  Although the target demographic is the over 40’s, all levels and ages are welcome and it’s a perfect studio to attend for students working with injuries or recovering from medical procedures and surgery.

Their schedule boasts an impressive line up of experienced yoga instructors and yoga therapists of varying yoga lineages all with extensive teaching experience.

Enjoy a healthier transition into older age by making a regular yoga practice part of your routine.