If you have decided to take up yoga then you really have made a great choice! These days, millions of people around the world are practicing this ancient art of living and are reaping all of the physical, mental, and spiritual benefits. Yoga can have a positive impact on every part of your life and you really can start feeling the benefits after your very first session. As with starting anything new, getting ready to come to the mat for the very first time can be a little scary.

To help you prepare and to understand what it is all about, here is how to get started in yoga.

1. Understanding the Origins of Yoga

These days, yoga is an incredibly popular activity in almost every country in the world. There are people who practice yoga for all kinds of reasons from weight loss, to flexibility gains, to dealing with stress. Yoga was first practiced in India thousands of years ago, and at that time, it was not considered to be exercise.

For practitioners back then, and many practitioners today, yoga was a way of life, which facilitated a spiritual transformation through mindfulness. Raja yoga, often referred to as classical yoga, uses eight separate practices or “limbs”. Most modern yoga classes will focus on just “asana”, which is the physical limb and incorporates the stretches and poses for which yoga is now best known.

2. Buying the Right Equipment

One thing which is really great about yoga practice in comparison to other physical activities is that you need very little equipment to do it. Many people do yoga in their garden or on the beach without anything at all, but the yoga enthusiasts at Yogangstar explain that for most classes, one thing which you will need is a decent mat. Many yoga studios provide mats to practitioners, and if you can be sure that they are cleaned regularly then using these mats is fine for class practice.

If you want to buy your own mat for home practice or because your studio doesn’t have any, you will need to look for one which doesn’t slip. Thicker mats tend to have more friction than things mats and will also provide more padding between you and the floor. When you first start out, yoga can be quite painful on your joints and feet because you are not used to putting so much pressure on them. A quality, thick yoga mat will help you get comfortable so you can focus on your poses.

3. Wear the Right Clothes

In terms of what clothes to wear to class, unless the studio has some kind of dress code, the right clothes are whatever clothes you feel most comfortable in. For most people, this will be light breathable sportswear, often with specially designed yoga pants that will allow you to move freely and stretch out your body. For both men and women, you may want to avoid very short, loose shorts as you may inadvertently flash someone, and also loose t-shirts or workout tops which may ride up or fold over your face during those headstands and downward dogs.

4. Preparing for Your First Time

When you see photographs of master yogis doing insane contortionist-level poses, it can be a little intimidating. The most important thing to remember when preparing for your first yoga class is that everyone starts out in the same place. These ultra-challenging poses and stretches take years to achieve, and no one in your class is going to judge you at all if you can’t touch your toes yet. Yoga is a journey and just showing up on the mat regularly to learn each day is the most important step.

You will soon find that your instructors and other students who have been practicing for a while will be very welcoming and willing to give you any tips or advice you want. Before class, try to avoid fizzy drinks and any greasy or fatty foods. It is also important not to eat within an hour of the class start. You don’t want to feel bloated during your practice or need to go to the bathroom halfway through.

Yoga practice is an incredible journey, and the changes it can make to your life and wellbeing are second to none. Regular yoga practice can help to make you stronger, more flexible, and can also improve your mood, sleep, and happiness. Your first yoga class can feel a little daunting but there is no need to worry. Follow these five steps and you will have everything you need.