What to Know Before You Go

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Want to know more? Here are other answers to questions frequently asked by first-time yogis.

What Should I Wear to Yoga Class?

You don’t have to wear special yoga clothes unless you want to, says Barr. “What people wear to yoga has evolved because it tends to be easier to move if you don’t have a bulkier pant hanging down or your shirt falling in front of your face,” she says.

Ideally, you want to wear clothes that you feel safe and comfortable in, says Barr. This could be yoga pants and a snug-fitting top, sweatpants and a sweatshirt, or shorts and a tank top or T-shirt, she says. “Some studios may have a dress code, so you may want to check the website or stop by the center before you attend class,” says Bar.

RELATED: Is Vinyasa Yoga Good for Beginners? What to Know

Do I Need to Bring Anything With Me to Yoga Class?

What you need to bring with you to class can vary from studio to studio, says Samantha Scupp, the founder and a teacher at Heatwise, a New York City hot yoga studio, who is certified by Yoga Alliance. It’s a good idea to check the website before you go, says Scupp. Some studios provide a mat, towel, and water, but many don’t, she adds.

If you’re planning on attending a class at your local YMCA, gym, or community center, check the schedule or call the front desk to find out what you’ll need to bring to be prepared.

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What Should I Eat Before Yoga Class?

Because of all the movement of your torso, as well as other parts of your body, it’s not a good idea to have a full meal within two hours of practicing yoga, says Barr. If you do need a light snack or you’re taking a class shortly after you wake up in the morning, stick to simple carbs, energizing snacks, or foods that are easy to digest. You might experiment with which foods work best for you; toast, nut butters, bananas, or low-fat yogurt are all good options before a workout, notes the American College of Sports Medicine.

RELATED: What to Eat Before and After You Work Out

What if I Can’t Do a Pose?

Listen to your body and respect your limits. Don’t do poses or movements that don’t feel safe or comfortable, says Bar. “It’s important to realize that you can get hurt doing yoga if you don’t listen to your body,” says Bar. If a teacher is asking you to do something that seems out of the range of your ability, it’s better to pass than to risk injury, she adds.

Instructors will often offer alternatives or adjustments to make poses more or less challenging, says Bar. If an option isn’t offered, it’s okay to ask for a modification that works for you (just be sure to be respectful and not disruptive to the instructor) — or just pause on the mat where you are, whether it be sitting or standing. “Stay still and take a breath and wait until the class is finished with that pose,” says Bar.

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What if I Don’t Understand What the Teacher Is Asking Me to Do?

When teachers use Sanskrit terms and terminology it can be challenging for people at first, says Bar. Sanskrit is the original language of yoga, which many instructors do use, according to the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies. Even poses with familiar words — Warrior, Tree pose, Dead Bug pose — could leave you scratching your head.

If you attend a class and the instructor is using a lot of terms you don’t know and you’re having trouble keeping up, inquire about a more beginner-level class with a teacher who uses more basic language to describe the poses, says Bar. Many studios will offer beginner classes that will help you get to know basic Sanskrit terms over time, she says.

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What if I Need to Use the Bathroom During Class?

If you have to use the bathroom, just quietly leave the room to go, says Bar. “If you think it’s likely that you’ll need to excuse yourself during class, make sure you know where the restroom is,” says Bar, and place your mat in a part of the room that will make leaving and reentering the room as easy as possible.

It’s okay if you need to duck out of the room if nature calls, Bar says. “Part of practicing yoga is knowing what you need and taking care of yourself.”

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