Yoga is a mystical, life-changing practice that is thousands of years old. It is also decidedly non-Western, which means many of the common practices in a typical yoga class can be confusing.
Keeping up with the Sanskrit, sutras and chanting can be challenging enough.
Here are seven things you need to know before you start yoga.
1. Yoga pants are notoriously see-through.
If you choose to wear yoga pants, bend way over in the dressing room and take a good, long look. That unflattering dressing room light will highlight any transparency where the sun don't shine.
Better to figure it out in the dressing room than on the mat in front of the rest of the class. Yoga pants are not a requirement, though.
Generally, pants that allow you to move are good for yoga, and it's a bonus if they are slightly fitted. That way, the teacher can see your knees to help with your alignment.
2. The only way around VPL is a thong.
I have been doing yoga off and on for at least 15 years, but I've been seriously practicing for the last two.
Just last week, I finally asked a yoga teacher how she got around VPL (Visible Panty Line): No undies? Thong?
Thong it is, especially if you are not 100 percent sure your yoga pants aren't see-through. In addition to eliminating the VPL issue, the butt floss action of the thong can really highlight the separate actions of each side of the pelvis in, say, warrior I.
3. Gentlemen, peekaboo is not good.
When the weather gets warm, dudes in yoga class feel the need for a little free ballin'. Resist this urge, or risk giving your yoga teacher (and the rest of the class) a sneaky flash of your junk. As the thong-answering yoga teacher above said, "That cannot be unseen."
Throw those balls into a jockstrap or running shorts that can properly contain them. No one but your significant other needs a view of that.
4. Not everyone cleans his or her mat.
Many studios offer mats for your use during class. This is great because if you are just starting out, you don't need to buy your own mat.
However, not everyone who uses them takes advantage of the mat cleaner that is usually strategically placed by the mat storage. This can not only be incredibly smelly, but these mats can also harbor foot fungus, sweaty balls and other things you wouldn't want on your face.
Do yourself a favor, and go to class early. This way, you can clean your borrowed mat, and give it time to dry before class begins.
5. Come to class early to shift gears.
Nothing is worse than rushing around, trying to squeeze yourself into the front row because you are late to class. Give yourself enough time so you have at least five minutes to settle into the class.
For popular classes, you may need to allow more time, if you don't want to be in the front row or sandwiched in a hastily-created third row.
Plus, when you are late to class, you interrupt the teacher's flow, and it's rude as hell to make others move for you.
6. Yoga people can be assh*les.
Yes, it's true. For some reason, people expect all of those who do yoga to be peaceful and nice. But as with anything, there are assh*les in yoga, like the jerks who eyeball your clothes or don't acknowledge your presence when you sit down next to them.
Popular classes can seem cliquey, but don't sweat it. In some cases, the yoga people aren't actually being assh*les. They may just be trying to center themselves before class, or they may be having a bad day.
You will be able to recognize the jerks with the fancy clothes soon enough. They are the ones who sport Lululemon everywhere, even when they only go to class once a week and don't practice at home.
They are on their own paths, and you don't need to be near them. Namaste, bitches.
7. Seriously, child's pose or taking a break is 100 percent okay.
I have hurt myself muscling through a class that was too challenging for me. I have become dizzy and nearly fainted. I have refused to stop in an ashtanga class that completed the entire primary series in 90 minutes.
This is not only dumb, but also dangerous. Taking a break in child's pose is probably the purest form of yoga you can do.
You are actually listening to your body and doing what works for you. You are allowing yourself to be your best teacher.
8. Yoga is a practice, not a perfect.
Even though Instagram would have you believe otherwise, not every day in yoga class is a flexible, strong wonderland of beauty.
Sometimes, your mind yells at you the entire time you are on the mat: Why are you so stiff? Why can't you bend like the lady next to you? Who do you think you are to even start this practice?
Everyone, and I mean everyone, has days like this. It is part of the path of yoga.
On these days, don't say anything to yourself that you wouldn't say to a friend who was struggling in the same way. The most beautiful part of yoga can also be the most difficult thing to keep in mind: Everyone is a beginner.