Ashtanga yoga classes are an excellent way for beginners to enter the world of yoga, and get started on a pattern of good practices and improved physical and spiritual health. But stepping onto the mat for the first time can be daunting, especially if you don’t know what to expect. Here are a few tips on how to maneuver through your very first yoga session.

Expect to start out easy.

With any workout, it’s important to start nice and easy. Ashtanga yoga incorporates a lot of movements and muscles that aren’t typical of other workouts like lifting, running, or cross training, so expect to ease those new muscles into the yoga mood with some warmup stretching and vinyasas to get the blood pumping.

Expect to work hard.

Some people equate yoga to sleepy stretching, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Ashtanga yoga incorporates vinyasa elements, or a “flow” from one pose to the next. While the pace of the vinyasa might start out nice and easy, expect that pace to increase as you move through your Ashtanga Yoga session. Combining complex, difficult movements with rapid vinyasas will almost guarantee that you break a sweat.

Expect to feel stretched out—maybe beyond your comfort.

Most yoga classes for beginners are forgiving to the not-so-stretchy portion of the population. But even the easiest Ashtanga yoga classes will engage and access muscles that aren’t utilized in other forms of exercise, so expect to wince as your muscles burn. The key to working through those uncomfortable situations is to breathe properly and to recognize the difference between pain and discomfort in your yoga practice. If a pose is painful, stop or realign that pose. But if your inner thighs feel like they’re on fire, that’s the just sensation of improved flexibility. Work through the discomfort as best as you can, and don’t forget to breathe.

Expect for the instructor to tweak your poses.

Proper form is incredibly important for safe and effective yoga practice. As a beginner, your instructor will want to ensure that you’re developing correct muscle memory by learning correct poses. That means your instructor will often give you verbal feedback on your poses, as well as “tweak” your poses by manipulating and re-positioning your body. These tweaks will allow you to stretch and pose in a deeper and healthier manner and avoid muscle or joint damage in your yoga practice. Practice makes permanent, so let your instructor make sure your practice is good practice.

Expect to feel relaxed and rejuvenated when you’re done.

The most satisfying moment of a yoga session is arguably the ending Shavasana, or “corpse” pose, which allows you to lay on your back, breathe deeply, close your eyes, and relax. Once your session is over, you’ll be overwhelmed by a sense of peace and well-being, and you’ll feel the effects of a healthy, full-body workout. That’s the power of yoga, even for those beginners who are stepping on the mat for the very first time. All it takes is one class, and you’ll be coming back for improved strength, increased flexibility, and physical and spiritual enlightenment. Take that first step into Ashtanga yoga, and register for a Collierville yoga class today!