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A woman does yoga.

Walking into a yoga studio should be a comfortable and inviting experience, but if you’re new or uncertain about what to expect, you might not feel so relaxed. These tips from Tory Schaefer, national director of yoga operations for Life Time, can help you confidently prepare for class — and enjoy it, too.

1. Know what to bring.

Yoga doesn’t require a lot of gear, but there are a few key items you’ll need, including a mat. Many people prefer to bring their own, but Life Time also provides them, so feel free to borrow a mat if you don’t have one or if you forget yours.

A towel and water bottle are also good to have on hand, as many Life Time yoga classes are designed to build heat in the body — and some studios are heated. Towels (available in the locker room or near the studio entrance) are multipurpose: They can help you mop up perspiration, keep your feet from slipping on your mat, and may be used as a prop to help you reach and stretch deeper in poses.

2. Dress to move.

Your choice of activewear can affect your experience, so choose workout attire that is comfortable and moves with you. For example, think about how your clothes might shift in poses like downward-facing dog.

Yoga works every part of your body, including your feet, so plan on practicing barefoot, if possible. If you have a condition that requires you to wear shoes in the studio, let the teacher know; he or she will honor your needs and may even be able to recommend yoga-specific shoes.

If you opt to go barefoot, leave your shoes by the door in the storage cubes that many studios offer. This helps keep the yoga floor clean.

3. Prepare to practice.

Try to arrive at least 15 minutes before class so you have time to check in, set up your mat, and take a few breaths before class begins. Remember: The most important tool in yoga is your breath. If you can breathe, you can practice yoga. When you’re ready, take a moment to smile and express gratitude for the fact that you made it to your mat.

4. Minimize distractions.

Most yoga classes — and the studios they’re held in — are designed to bring you into the present moment, allowing your mind to relax and your body to rejuvenate. Take this opportunity to unplug and enjoy a break from your phone and other devices. If you need to have your cell phone in the room, make sure it’s on silent mode and in a place that won’t distract others.

5. Listen to your body.

It’s important to follow the cues from your yoga teacher, but it’s even more important to tune in to your own body. Use your breath and concentrate on how you feel as you move through each pose. If you feel pain or if you aren’t physically able to complete a pose, don’t worry. Listen for modifications from the teacher or ask for help tailoring the move to your body and what it’s able to do today.

6. Communicate your needs.

Life Time’s yoga teachers are here to guide you. They may offer hands-on assistance during your practice, but if you prefer not to receive this support, feel free to let them know before class. And don’t hesitate to speak up for any other needs or concerns you might have.

7. Respect your fellow yogis.

You play an important role in the yoga community and can help enhance the experience for others. Do your part to create a pleasant space for yourself and those around you by saving conversations for before or after class. And because yoga practice is rooted in breathing, try not to wear perfume or other scents that can distract or trigger sensitivities in your neighbors.

8. Maintain your equipment.

If you borrow a Life Time mat, be sure to wipe it down with mat cleaner and a towel at the end of class. And feel free to wipe down your own mat before rolling it up (note that you might want to lay it out to dry when you get home). Return any bolsters, blocks, straps, or other supportive tools you use during class to their designated storage areas.

9. Commit to yourself.

Yoga time is your time. To maximize the benefits of your practice, give it your all. Even on your busiest day, you deserve to stay through the end of class, so resist the urge to leave a few minutes early or skip out on the final relaxation, which cuts your practice short and can also disrupt your neighbors’ experiences. Just as you’d schedule a work meeting or doctor’s appointment, block time on your calendar by registering for class ahead of time in the Life Time Member App.

Follow these tips for a confident, comfortable and enjoyable yoga experience. Namaste!

Emily Ewen

Emily Ewen is a senior writer and content editor at Life Time.

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