So you want to take a yoga class. What should you bring? {Also a Yogarat review!}

This year marks my 6 year yogaversary.

I started waaaaay back in 2008, totally unsure of what I should expect outside of making a total fool of myself in front of a room full of experienced, bendy people. I was positive that would happen.

But then it didn’t. The thing about yoga class is that it’s impossible to make a fool of yourself because the people that are serious about their practice don’t care what you look like. You could fall out of mountain pose and it wouldn’t matter. The yoga community reminds me a lot of the running community in that regardless of your experience level, you are warmly welcomed. I have met some seriously wonderful people in my yoga classes.

But I get it. The first class – much like any new experience – can be nerve wracking. If you think you need to prepare at home beforehand, you don’t. I believe it’s actually better to start in a studio where they are trained to make sure you are properly aligned and won’t injure yourself. That’s something you can’t get from any DVD or YouTube video. I still get adjusted and pick up good tips from my teachers. It’s a learning process that goes on probably forever.

My first class was at my old fancy gym back when I didn’t have a child and could afford to frivolously shell out a hundred dollars a month on such things. It was an all-level, unheated, yoga fusion class – meaning it was non-specific in style – and I loved it. If you are attending a class like this (or any unheated class for that matter), I would suggest you bring with you the following:

  • A mat.
  • Water.
  • Optional hand towel. I don’t really get sweaty in unheated classes, but it is nice to have nearby just in case.

That’s it. Depending on where you go, you might even be able to procure these items for a small fee when you get there in which case you can just show up empty handed (I wouldn’t chance it though). Often times a yoga class will utilize props such as blocks and straps and I haven’t met a  studio yet that can’t provide those for you. After doing this for 6 years, I still don’t have my own strap and while I do have blocks, I don’t bother carrying them around with me.

It wasn’t long before I decided that I wanted to try out a hot class. I’m naturally very flexible, but when I heard that a heated room could make me even MORE flexible? Where do I sign?

Oh. Right there on that line that waives the studio’s responsibility if I pass out.

I’m just being dramatic, but they probably will put a waiver in front of you and if they do, don’t be scared. I’ve had to sign one at every hot studio I’ve ever visited and one for aerial yoga too just in case I fell out of the ceiling and tried to sue anyone. In the hundreds of classes I have attended over the years, I’ve only seen one medical emergency happen. I also saw a much worse medical emergency at the DMV so there you go.

Depending on what kind of hot class you’ve chosen, the temperature in the room will vary from lukewarm to blatantly uncomfortable. I went with Bikram first which would be on the blatantly uncomfortable end of the spectrum. Bikram is heated to 105 degrees. Other classes are heated between 80 and 100 or so. The vinyasa classes I frequent are 90 degrees and I always have to hang out by a space heater because at this point I’m mentally ill and 90 degrees feels doesn’t feel hot anymore.

They will also rent you mats and stuff, but I especially suggest taking your own to one of these classes unless you’re okay with laying on a mat that countless people have sweated all over in the past.

Spoiler alert: I’m not.

For any hot yoga class you will want to bring:

  • A mat. Trust me on this one. I did rent one time ever and the mat smelled like roast beef. I don’t want to know why.
  • Water. I like to take at least a liter. I never drink the whole thing in class, but afterwards I am always SO THIRSTY.
  • A hand towel.
  • A mat towel.

Any standard size towel will do. People bring in beach towels or bath towels all the time. This one guy in my Bikram class used to bring in a giant Shamwow which was freaking BRILLIANT. Basically you just want something to put down on your mat so you don’t slip in your own sweat. Because trust me…you will.

My personal preference is YogaRat towels, both for hand and mat. Recently I was lucky enough to test drive a Diamond Grip Mat Towel and a Yoga Hand Towel, both in a fabulous shade of purple.

photo 2

photo 1

First, the Hand Towel. It is made of a very fast-drying microfiber. When I first felt it I was skeptical because the material is so thin. As a true test, I first took this towel to a Bikram class where I knew I would be at my sweatiest.

You know those paper towel commercials where it shows a person cleaning up an unfortunate juice spill in an instant with just one swipe? That was this yoga towel on my face. It doesn’t feel as if it should be more absorbent than the bath hand towels I had been taking to class, but it worked SO much better. I’m never going back to those old towels again.

The main complaint I have had about every single one of my mat towels is that they bunch up a lot as I move around on them. I am OCD about the flatness of my towel and the constant adjusting was really throwing me out of my zone. Enter: Diamond Grip Mat Towel. It is made of the same highly absorbent microfiber, but the weave is diamond shaped to reduce slippage.

Basically it’s the best of all worlds. Not only does it not slip, but I don’t find myself laying uncomfortably in a pool of sweat during savasana because it wicks away moisture so well. Also, because the material is thin, I feel like I have really good contact with the mat at all times. So important while in a balancing pose!

One unexpected thing about this towel that I absolutely love is that it is also longer than any of my other ones. My most favorite mat is longer than standard size and my other towels didn’t completely cover it while this one does with a little extra to spare.

toweldown

I’m so glad no one came in the room while my yoga mat was taking selfies. That would have been so embarrassing.

No matter what kind of yoga you decide to try and regardless of the temperature of the room, the most important thing to bring with you is a positive attitude and know that you don’t have to do every single posture in order to get amazing benefits from the class. Sit down and take breaks if you need to, hydrate properly, and take care of yourself.

Have you been to a studio class before? If so, were you nervous when you first went? Did it meet your expectations? Have you ever rented a really gross mat from the studio?

~ Salt

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30 thoughts on “So you want to take a yoga class. What should you bring? {Also a Yogarat review!}

  1. she's going the distance says:

    NEVER rented a mat. Ew. My sister does Bikram, so this might be a great birthday or xmas present for her :). I’ve done a vinyasa hot yoga, and beginner yoga classes. I love them all. Don’t know if i could ever do Bikram, but i’ll do anything once.

    • runsaltrun says:

      It was a serious desperation move and taught me a valuable lesson to always leave a mat in the car! I think Bikram is kind of an acquired taste. I don’t think I know anyone who just sort of likes it…you either really do or you really don’t. It’s worth a shot though!

  2. MaybeMarathoner says:

    All I can smell now is roast beef, and I feel completely icky. Way too vivid! 🙂 I actually took my first yoga class about two months ago and was so scared to show up, but you are right…nobody cares WHAT you are doing! They are such good classes…not sure I’m up for hot yoga though…

    • runsaltrun says:

      Haha sorry! There is really no attractive way to describe it. I know what I’m not getting for lunch today.
      That’s so awesome that you went and loved it!! I am such a hot yoga pusher that I tell everyone that they should try it. The heat in the room really does let you stretch farther. 🙂

  3. Kristin says:

    This is a great post and I SO agree with you that the yoga community is wonderful!! For the most part, serious yogis could care less about you falling out of a pose or stretching beyond your toes!! It just doesn’t matter! When I’m practicing, all I care about is myself- getting into the rhythm of my class and staying in tune with my body!! XOXO!!!

  4. fitnessmeetsfrosting says:

    OMG roast beef- just threw up in my mouth a little bit 😉 Can I take you to my first yoga class?! I’m just a very self conscious person in general, so it’s not surprising that yoga intimidates me. I know it’s silly. I even have a mat because my dad’s work gave it to him- basically a sign that I need to go 🙂

  5. OneMotherofaDay says:

    Wow 6 Years!! That is amazing! I started going to a yoga studio down the start last summer but only went like 4 times. Each time I went I was super nervous. I remember the very first time I went it wasn’t a heated yoga class or anything but, the room was so hot already. By the end of class my ankles were even sweating. But, I did really enjoy yoga. I need to get back into it.

    • runsaltrun says:

      You should! I totally know that nervous feeling, but I promise you that there’s nothing to be nervous about. It’s all about you in there and no one else. 🙂 That’s crazy that your unheated class was so hot though!

  6. Sarah says:

    I have wanted to try yoga for 100 years but never have. Body image blah blah blah… but I think I am going to give it a shot!! …. after baby. 🙂

    • runsaltrun says:

      You should! Have you considered doing prenatal? I think I’ll write a post about this on another day, but I did prenatal yoga starting near the end of my first tri up until I was 39 freaking weeks. It was wonderful, especially after I stopped going to my regular classes around week 25 because my belly started to get in the way too much. I think it made a HUGE difference, especially with pain management when I was in labor.

      • Sarah says:

        I have thought about it!! But I have also heard the exercise rule that you can keep doing what you’re doing but not new stuff…….. I’d be down to try a class though! I’ll look into it and I will look forward to a future prenatal yoga post from you!

  7. Change of Pace says:

    Great post! Ew- renting a mat for hot yoga would be pretty nasty!
    I’ve never done a hot yoga class but have been itching to try lately. Maybe I’ll give it a go in the next couple weeks!

  8. irishrunnerchick says:

    I love having yoga as part of my routine. And I have never ever felt judged at a class. I second the idea of going to a studio to make sure your alignment is correct. And also try a couple of different instructors until you find one that works for you. Saying that Bikram yoga is not for me – the heat is just too much!

    • runsaltrun says:

      I think there must be something wrong with me because I’m of the mindset that hotter is better. Definitely not for everyone though. I agree that it’s great to try out different instructors and studios to see which ones jive the best. My favorite instructor ever was a girl who I still talk to occasionally who taught my old Monday night class. It’s impossible for me to get to that class now and I miss it so much!

      • irishrunnerchick says:

        I felt so ill after a Bikram class it just put me off. I cannot handle heat. The class that I go to now has the best yoga instructor. His classes are amazing – worth the 5.40 wake up time.

  9. Mar on the Run! says:

    I can never read one of your posts and not end up cracking the heck up. This was hilarious. And so very very true. I recently bought a yoga towel because I discovered the hard way that a regular bath towel is simply not absorbent enough for me. I sweat bad enough as it is but then add on a 90 degree yoga studio… I need to invent my own shamwow.

  10. runningoutofwine says:

    I remember being really nervous the first time I took a studio yoga clas, even though I had done yoga for years (at my gym an using DVDs at home). I have never rented a mat. I use a yoga towel over my mat in the hot classes or else I slide all over the place!

  11. Pandora Viltis says:

    I’ve rented a mat when travelling, but I always bring my yogitoes mat towel with me in those cases. I have a Lululemon mat that I use at my heated yoga classes (these are usually between 85-90 degrees) and even though I sweat a ton, I don’t slip on it. I like it better than using a towel because of the bunching up you mentioned.

    You’re right about no one being snobby at the classes. People are so into their own practice that they don’t spend any time looking at you. And even when I fell over doing tree pose (I was experimenting with blowing my eyes), no one looked at me funny. I did get laughed at when my knees popped, but they do it all the time and doesn’t hurt. It’s just loud.

    My husband has fallen in love with yoga too. He’s not at all flexible but he loves doing the strength moves.

  12. piratebobcat says:

    Agreed! There’s no reason to feel embarrassment in yoga. All you have to do is look around. Sure, some freaky people are bending their leg behind their head while they balance on one hand, but most look like a hunched tangled mess like me. Haha.
    I do think yoga classes are great. DVD’s are ok, but I have no shame, so if the instructor wants to correct my pose – bring it! That doesn’t embarrass me! If I shake, stumble or fall, so be it. It’s just yoga after all.

  13. bloggingbutton says:

    I never realized that there were varying degrees of hot yoga. I know we have a local bikram studio but I’ve never been because I’m scared of new things. I feel like after a year of yoga I should start branching out to new things though, thanks for the inside scoop!

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