How to Kick Your Yoga Class Intimidation

As a yoga blogger, yoga junkie, and occasional instructor to fearless friends, I’ve had many conversations with yoga enthusiasts and aspiring yogis. Some have discovered, as I have, that yoga is a game-changer, as it helps us gain confidence, personal power, internal peace, and a life that feels bold and inspiring. But for those who are new to the practice, beginning yoga classes in a studio can be intimidating. While yoga pros are rockin’ their asanas, yoga beginners may be struggling to maintain balance, keep their feet on the mat and their heads in the game. Awkward? Yes! But these growing pains should not hinder you from enjoying your yoga class and delving more deeply into the wonderful world of yoga. With that in mind, I’ve asked a local studio owner and long-time professional yoga instructor to answer some common questions. Here’s what Jen King has to say about kicking your yoga class intimidation…

How to Kick Your Yoga Class Intimidation

Question:

Some yoga beginners have tried a studio class or two and decided it wasn’t right for them. But later, those same individuals gave it another shot and realized their first experience was poor simply because of the studio or class. What would you say to anyone looking for the right fit in terms of yoga classes?

Jen’s Answer:

“Keep in mind, there are many different styles of yoga. You must experience a few types to see what fits you. I sampled many styles including Hatha, Ashtanga, and Bikram. Then I met Baron Baptiste and the Vinyasa Flow. It was just what I was looking for!”  

Question:

Balance is something we learn through our asanas. Inexperienced yogis tend to feel embarrassed and awkward when practicing new postures in a studio setting. How do you suggest these newbies overcome their intimidation?

Jen’s Answer:

“Yoga is not about appearances. It’s about how you feel. You don’t need to try so hard. Allow more ease to the effort. We do not use mirrors in my class, as they may distract the students. They get out of their heads and into their bodies. Shift from thinking and processing to feeling and breathing. There is no judgement or expectation in yoga. You just go with the flow and see what happens. Let go and let be.”

Question:

I started my yoga journey way back when VHS videos were an option for yoga home practice. Later, I found that studio classes added a whole other dimension and allowed me to branch out and learn new things. When I finally stepped into a yoga studio, I was experienced enough to perform poses without stumbling (much). Do you think it’s a good idea to begin this way? Or is it better to have a teacher guide you before transitioning to a yoga home practice?

Jen’s Answer:

“Home Practice vs. studio practice…either way, just as long as you practice! Home is good for convenience and solitude. There are several great podcasts that allow you to try a variety of yoga styles. In the studio there is more personal instruction and hands-on assisting. Students also enjoy a sense of community, being part of something bigger than themselves.”

Question:

What would you say is the best habit a new yoga practitioner can form to aid their practice?

Jen’s Answer:

“The best habit is to practice everyday. Even if it’s just 5-10 minutes. Every time you step on the mat, you learn something about yourself: fear, doubt, trust, anger, impatience, joy– the list is endless.”

Question:

What are your thoughts on performing advanced yoga poses that require tremendous strength and flexibility? Some yogis fear falling or injuring themselves, but I’ve found that attempting any pose with fear only makes me more prone to falling and becoming injured. In your opinion, what’s the best way to work into difficult poses?

Jen’s Answer:

“Advanced poses require patience. I recommend students practice at their own level and be OK with where they are. We are all about the final destination…it’s more about the journey. Take the time to enjoy the process. Fear is a big issue that holds us back. Take your time, make baby steps, use modifications and blocks to assist in the process. Everyone wants to jump right in…SLOW DOWN!”

Final thoughts from Jen:

Two of the most common complaints from those beginning a yoga practice are flexibility (or lack of) and the inability to sit in stillness. Here’s how to overcome those perceived obstacles:   

“Remember you do not need to be flexible, start where you are and grow from there. As you get stronger, you naturally become more flexible.”

As for sitting still in yoga class:

“Try a Vinyasa flow. You do not sit still! Sitting for longer periods of time are more of a meditative yoga.”

About Jen King

How to Kick Your Yoga Class Intimidation: an interview with studio owner and teacher Jen King

Jen has been a part of the fitness industry for the past 30 years, achieving several certifications in personal training including, National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), American Council of Exercise (ACE),and STOTT Pilates. In 2007, Jen attended an all-day immersion with world renowned yoga master, Baron Baptiste, where she found her passion! She then completed her ERYT 200 hour Yoga Certification and also became a Yoga Alliance Nationally Registered Teacher. Find her online, or  in her studio: Power Yoga Ocala.

Tips from a studio owner/teacher for overcoming the most common fears in a yoga class environment.


44 Comments
  • Mandi
    April 17, 2016

    I have found that I am much more comfortable practicing at home or in nature but may venture out to a yoga class again someday!

    • Rica Lewis
      April 17, 2016

      Yes, I’m more comfortable with a home practice, too. But it’s good to get to a studio for a new experience, and to socialize with other yogis! Thanks for reading and commenting, Mandi!

  • Marleen S
    April 17, 2016

    I feel like this post has been timed perfectly! I just brought a yoga mat, and can’t wait to get started! Awesome post x

  • Alicia Hensley
    April 17, 2016

    Great article! Thank you!

  • theadventureahead
    April 17, 2016

    After trying many different studios before finding the one that felt right, I am a firm believer in trying a variety of studios, instructors, and styles. The wrong studio or instructor can really turn people off a practice that they could really fall in love with under the right circumstances.

  • Rachelle Waldon
    April 18, 2016

    I’m definitely a beginner, so it feels more comfortable for me to practice at home. However, I do think that it’d be a really good experience to step out of my comfort zone and give a group class a try sometime! It’s something that is really intimidating, but all of Jenn’s comments were so reassuring and encouraging!

    • Rica Lewis
      April 18, 2016

      Great, Rachel. I always find great emotional rewards when I step out of my comfort zone. Feels empowering! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • Bryce Warden
    April 18, 2016

    I live for my kick boxing class but I know lots of yoga devotees…..maybe one day…

    • Rica Lewis
      April 18, 2016

      OHHH, yes! Kickboxing sounds like a blast, Bryce!

  • Sheri
    April 18, 2016

    I tried Yoga, but quit after the second lesson because our Yogi was still pretty new, so all she did was read the various positions form a notebook she had on the floor and tried to teach it to herself while teaching us. After reading this, I see it may be worth a second try 🙂

    • Rica Lewis
      April 18, 2016

      Oh gosh, Sheri! That’s a terrible experience. I hope you do give another studio a shot! Run from that place! 🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • KP
    April 18, 2016

    I’ve always wanted to try Yoga, but was worried I’d feel out of place, since I’m not flexible at all. After reading this I think I’m going to give it another chance 🙂

    • Rica Lewis
      April 18, 2016

      That’s awesome, KP! I hope you love like I do!

  • Jennifer
    April 18, 2016

    As long as you find the teacher that resonates for you, then taking a class with others is the best. But I’ve also been in plenty with poor teachers or just don’t care for their style and then I’d rather be home.

    • Rica Lewis
      April 19, 2016

      Yes, Jennifer, a good teacher really makes a difference in a studio stetting! Thanks for reading and commenting. 🙂

  • Mardene Carr
    April 20, 2016

    I have already kicked my intimidation. I am starting classes this weekend

    • Rica Lewis
      April 20, 2016

      That’s awesome, Mardene! Let me know how it goes!

  • Sidney Aldaine
    April 20, 2016

    I can`t imagine practicing yoga anywhere else but in a solitude of my home. I`m just too nervour around other people. And stressed out, of course.

    • Rica Lewis
      April 20, 2016

      I hope yoga helps calm your nerves and ease your stress, Sidney. Keep doing it–no matter where you practice! Thanks for stopping in. 🙂

  • Margaretha (Reformed MD)
    April 21, 2016

    I have luckily never felt intimidated in yoga class, the fact that our studio does not have mirrors definitely helps and so does the fact that or instructor emphasizes that yoga is not about appearances but about concentrating on one’s body.

    • Rica Lewis
      April 21, 2016

      It sounds like you have a great instructor, Margaretha! Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Faye
    April 21, 2016

    I love this – especially the point about not using mirrors! Sometimes when I join a new yoga class I feel so out of it when compared to everyone else… All of this is great advice and a great reminder about the real meaning behind yoga.

    • Rica Lewis
      April 21, 2016

      Thank you, Faye! I knew Jen would provide some good insight!

  • Carol Cassara
    April 21, 2016

    It really does always look like practitioners are way more flexible than I. It’s not easy stuff!

    • Rica Lewis
      April 21, 2016

      No, it’s not. But it’s surprising how quickly you can change your body and become more flexible. Thanks again for reading!

  • Leanne
    April 21, 2016

    there’s nothing like the extra motivation from being part of a class – especially when you connect well with the instructor and you feel like you’re on a similar level to the other participants. Leanne @ cresting the hill

  • Wendy Bottrell
    April 21, 2016

    I really like your point for newbies to begin where they are! I think in anything we begin this is vital to remember. Stop comparing and begin to enjoy the journey by taking consistent action in what you say the practice of yoga. Love it!

    • Rica Lewis
      April 21, 2016

      Consistent! Yes, Wendy. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Anna Palmer
    April 21, 2016

    Does Jen have a twitter handle?

    • Rica Lewis
      April 21, 2016

      Hi Anna, Jen does not have a Twitter handle. But you can find her on Facebook at Power Yoga Ocala. Hope that helps! Thanks for reaching out.

  • Silly Mummy
    April 21, 2016

    I’ve never done yoga classes but imagine I would feel a bit intimidated – this sounds like really good advice!

  • Liv
    April 21, 2016

    I accidentally took my beginner sister to a level 2 class last week. Her head almost exploded when the teacher said headstand. She did pretty well though. I’m going to send her this.

    • Rica Lewis
      April 21, 2016

      Ha Ha,Liv! So cool that she hung in there! Thanks for sharing the post, and for commenting too. 🙂

  • Sharon T McLaughlin MD FACS
    April 28, 2016

    Great advice. I think community learning is great when you can make the classes, there is a lot to be said for socialization. There are a lot of resources out there, I have friends that love the online classes. The important thing is to do something you enjoy and is good for your body.

    • Rica Lewis
      April 28, 2016

      Yes! It’s all about fitness, fun, and finding what works for us individually. Thanks for reading and commenting, Sharon!

  • Hung Thai
    April 29, 2016

    I haven’t yoga-ed in so long. Thanks for the inspiration. I guess I should get back into it 🙂

  • heidi williams
    June 24, 2016

    That was so helpful because I tried Yoga in the past and I have a bad back and believe it or not it didn’t help and I have been reluctant to try again. But I think maybe I just was doing the wrong yoga for me or had a bad experience. This has inspired me.

    • Rica Lewis
      June 24, 2016

      Hi Heidi, I’ve heard a lot of people say they came to yoga injured and found healing and really just ended up hooked on the practice. Still others say they came to yoga in good health and got hurt or strained in the process. I think we take a chance at being injured no matter what we do, so we should always ease into things and work at a pace that feels right. I wish you the best and I encourage you to try again!

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