9 Things I Learned At My First Ever Yoga Class

9 Things I Learned At My First Ever Yoga Class

"I had the wrong clothes on, I couldn't find the mats... but at least I didn't fart, eh?" Words: Joe Madden of Unbound Magazine.

1. The mats are in the big steel cupboard outside the door

If you're going to a yoga lesson at the Farringdon branch of Gymbox, and it's in Studio Two, and you arrive two minutes late and everyone's already striking poses, and you're left scuttling around at the back like an increasingly flustered idiot because you can't find where the yoga mats are, then they are in the big steel cupboard outside the door. FFS.

2. It's pretty tricky – not super-hard, but yeah, pretty tricky

If Unbound was a website that dealt in reheated clichés and cheesy platitudes, this piece would run along the patronising lines of "Hey, I thought yoga was easy-peasy and just for weakling ladies – but wowzers, it was almost impossible! And I'm a man! Hahaa!"

Well, that's not what it was like at all. From the small amount I knew about yoga, I knew there was more to it than gentle stretches, so it came as no surprise that certain poses made me wince a little, and that I had a sweat on by the end.

But! I didn't make a massive berk of myself. Even if, like me, you're not very flexible, you will be able to achieve most of the poses, albeit not very gracefully at first.

Afterwards, I spoke to the instructor (who had a suitably yoga-y name: Gemma Soul) and told her it was my first lesson. "Was it? You did really well!" she beamed. She was probably lying through her teeth, but I was thankful for the encouraging thumbs-up regardless.

3. I wasn't the only man there

There were two others, and one of them was clearly as inexperienced/crap as me, so that was a double-relief. Having said that, I think it would've been fine if I had been the only guy there – everyone's concentrating so much on getting their poses right that nobody really cares who's around them anyway.

4. It's a lot like bingo (stick with me here)

If you've ever been to a bingo hall, you'll know how weirdly hard it is to follow even the simplest of instructions when they keep coming at you, thick and fast.

You'd think marking off shouted-out numbers on a piece of cardboard would be the simplest thing in the world, but unless your name's Enid and you're 73 and you've been doing it every Wednesday evening for the last 20 years, it's actually quite mind-scrambling. Same with yoga. "Placing your hands either side of your right foot, extend your left foot back and up towards the ceiling, then arch your back and rotate your hips until your weight shifts onto your right knee…" – and so it goes on. Takes a little while to not feel overwhelmed by it. And you're not even allowed to drink through it, like at the bingo.

5. I probably shouldn't have worn a baggy cotton T-shirt

Wearing a technical running T-shirt seemed like overkill beforehand, but in retrospect, would've been the way to go. Stupid baggy cotton T-shirt got all sweaty and kept sliding over my head. D'oh.

6. It's nice to be given permission to just lie there

At one point, Gemma got us all to lie on our backs, with a yoga block – a wide brick made of hard foam – in-between our shoulder blades, arms outstretched like we'd been crucified. It's not a position I'd ever have put myself in of my own accord, but it's the most relaxing thing I'd done in weeks.

I've given serious thought to purchasing a yoga brick just so I can do it at home every so often.

7. I can't balance half as well as I thought I could

See this? This is called airplane pose, and I was rubbish at it.

8. The next day was a bit achy-breaky

Not sure how I didn't see this coming, but ouch. If you're going to stretch muscles and bend joints into positions they've never before been in, I suppose it makes sense that they're going to ache afterwards.

Basically, if you're intending to try yoga for the first time, make sure you don't have anything physically demanding planned for the next couple of days. Unfortunately, I'd signed up to run Hastings Half Marathon, which wound up involving more creaks and twinges than I'd have liked.

9. It feels like you need to give it a few goes to judge it properly

For this first lesson, I was concentrating so hard on following the instructions and avoiding crashing face-first to the floor that I didn't get a moment to reflect on whether or not I was enjoying the experience or not. It was actually a teensy bit stressful – which, obviously, is the polar opposite of what yoga is supposed to be. I wouldn't say my first yoga lesson was an 'enjoyable' experience, as such, but it certainly wasn't a bad one by any means, and it left me feeling like I could maybe grow to love it, once I started being less crap at it. I'm going back for more, so only time will tell…

For lots more first-person fitness inspiration, go to new fitness website Unbound