Yoga Basics for Beginners

Person doing yoga at a yoga class

Yoga offers a balanced workout by building strength and flexibility as well as refocusing the mind and relieving stress. However, no matter how inviting the studio or gym is, going to a new yoga class can be intimidating, especially for beginners. If you’re ready to become a yogi but still have a few lingering questions before heading to your first yoga class, read on to learn more about yoga including what clothing you should wear, which yoga mat to use, and some tips when attending your first yoga class.

What to Wear to Yoga

People doing yoga while wearing yoga clothing

Since yoga requires movement in all directions, it’s important to wear stretchy clothing that allows you to move freely but is still form-fitting enough to prevent your shirt or pants from falling down during an inverted yoga pose. Also, many people who are new to yoga are surprised by how much you’ll sweat and heat up during a yoga class. Don’t worry—this is completely normal and tells you that you’re spending your time wisely getting in a good workout. To prevent any embarrassing sweat lines, pay attention to the fabric content and technology. It’s best to avoid cotton shirts and pants as these tend to hold in moisture. Instead, you want to look for clothing made from nylon or polyester with a fair amount of spandex, also known as Lycra or elastane. This combination of fabric offers both breathability and flexibility for maximum comfort and confidence throughout your yoga practice. 

Today, more women and men are wearing yoga clothing for both fashion and function, so you’ll find yoga clothing featuring pockets, mesh cutouts, colorful patterns, bold colors, and more. These features are convenient for everyday wear but might feel uncomfortable throughout your practice. Before buying or taking off the tags, make sure to do a few basic yoga poses to make sure you’ll be focusing on your yoga flow rather than uncomfortable clothing. For more information about which type of yoga clothing you should wear, check out our blog How to Choose Clothes for Yoga.

What Yoga Mat to Use

A yoga person carrying a yoga mat

Having your own yoga mat isn’t essential as most yoga studios and gyms have yoga mats available to use during the class; however, using your own yoga mat is a more hygienic option and allows you to practice at home. Knowing which yoga mat to use comes down to your personal preference and the main type of yoga you plan on practicing. There are three main features to pay attention to—thickness, material, and texture. 

Thickness: Although there are thin, standard, and thick yoga mats, for someone just starting yoga, you’ll want to steer more towards a standard yoga mat around 1/8-inch thick. With this type of yoga mat, you’ll enjoy a balance between cushion and stability for use during a variety of different yoga classes.

Material: Most yoga mats are made from three different types of materials—PVC, natural rubber, and TPE. Any of these materials are good for someone new to yoga because you’ll experience both traction and grip.

Texture: When looking at yoga mats, you’ll notice either a smooth finish or a pattern of raised bumps. These raised bumps offer more traction, so if you’re brand new to yoga, look for a yoga mat featuring some texture. 

Read our How to Choose a Yoga Mat blog to learn more!

Other Yoga Accessories

Image of a yoga accessories like a yoga mat and yoga towel

When going to your first yoga class, you may notice other yogis using different props throughout the class. Although these are not essential to bring with you to your first class, you might find them helpful for any future yoga classes. 

Yoga Blocks: If stretching hasn’t been part of your routine, you may notice it can be challenging or uncomfortable reaching towards the floor. A yoga block is a perfect way to extend your pose and support your current range of motion. For comfort, yoga blocks are usually constructed from cork, foam, or bamboo. You’ll notice people use one or two yoga blocks throughout their practice. 

Yoga Straps: A yoga strap is another prop that’s used to help yogis reach a deeper level of stretching. You’ll notice these used throughout the yoga class. Also, these straps can double as a way to carry your yoga mat to and from class!

Yoga Towel: A yoga towel is great for making sure you don’t slip on your sweat. These are designed specifically for yoga as they are the right size and may feature slip-resistant padding to keep the yoga towel in place throughout the class.

A Typical Yoga Class

Now that you know exactly what to bring to your first yoga class, it’s good to know some simple yoga etiquette tips and what to expect. 

  • When walking into a yoga class, make sure that your phone is silenced and put away in a safe place. You don’t want technology to interfere with your (or anyone else’s) practice.
  • Follow how the other members in the class have positioned their mats. As the room fills up, you may need to adjust your positioning. 
  • There are many different types of yoga from restorative, calming yoga to vigorous vinyasa yoga. If the yoga class you’re at isn’t what best suits your needs, try to stay the duration of the class out of respect for the instructor and other members. 
  • Despite which type of yoga class you attend, you’ll be asked to focus on your breathing and to work at your comfort level. You’ll notice people at all different skill levels. Don’t let that be intimidating or stressful.  


If you’re looking for more information about yoga clothing and gear, check out your nearest SCHEELS location to speak with an expert!