Things to know if you're new to yoga.

Yoga is one of the easiest to start and enjoyable to do that I've found. The only necessary equipment is a mat, and even that can usually be borrowed from your gym or studio.  Here are some etiquette tips, general pointers, and random observations that will help you whether you're a beginner or have been bending for a while.

Relaxing before free flow yoga at the W Hotel in Scottsdale.

1.  Yoga is very welcoming of newcomers, so don't stress if people around you look relaxed, together, and flexible.  In most classes, there are all levels of students present and even those who have been practicing for years aren't necessarily great at everything. Just roll out your mat, have a seat, and be calm. (being calm is like 80% of yoga in the first place). The teacher will probably give various versions of each pose, just do what is comfortable to you and don't worry if you're not as bent over as everyone else...you'll get there, that's why they call it 'yoga practice.' 
2.  Be quiet.  Yoga requires a lot of focus, and if you are able to get your mind calmed you will probably be able to challenge your physical limits and reach new levels of ability. Nothing destroys your focus quicker than random chatter from others in class. This mandate extends even before class starts in most yoga studios. Check the rules for your individual class, but for the most part stay on the quiet side. Definitely don't do what a newcomer I saw recently did and make a phone call from her mat before class to loudly demand to know where the first her friend was.

3. Be considerate. This really could encompass be quiet, but quiet is so important it needs to be separate. Being considerate means not coming into class late, giving you the spot you're saving for a friend once the class gets close to capacity, not staring at bent-over people. Also, at some free classes, people being g children and pets...I cringe at this because inevitably both of those are going to be loud enough to affect maybe up to ten people in the vicinity. Keep in mind that kids and pets aren't good at sitting quietly for an hour and at the very least position yourself on the fringes and leave the room/area if your companion gets loud and restless.

4. Yoga is very easy to get into. Many gyms offer yoga classes with the gym membership LA Fitness has 6 or so classes a week at most locations, and they even have mats for use so all you need is a shirt and pants/shorts and you can do yoga. From there, you can invest as much or little as you like. Classes can be very expensive at studios, though many have packages available that can be more affordable. Check Groupon and Living Social for deals, there's almost always a yoga studio offering a month of unlimited classes for $30. There are also many free yoga classes around Phoenix at any given time. Lululemon at the Biltmore, Scottsdale Quarter, and Chandler Mall all have free classes on Sunday mornings at 10:30 (10:00 for Chandler). Once you get into the scene, you can likely find enough yoga for free to get you through most of the year.

5. Ok, let's not pretend this isn't a thing...there are lots of fit people bending over in tight clothes. This can be both deterring and attracting. Some women find it offputting that someone might look at them bent over or pushing their chest out. Some men might find it amazing that they can go into rooms full of women bent over and pushing their chests out. Neither side is really that accurate. Now I'm not going to pretend to be better than I am, at the start of any yoga class I'm looking around to see who is attractive. But once class starts, I'm instantly in yoga mode and that's pretty much the last impure thought that I'll have. So, women, you're pretty safe. Plus, to stare at you bent over means being the biggest creeper ever and standing up to stare while everyone else is bending.

That said, women need to know that many lower quality yoga pants become basically see through when you bend over and/or spread your legs (sometimes it's impossible not to notice). Lululemon just recalled pants for that issue, but here's the thing - they're the only ones who seem to care that their pants are see through. I'd suggest checking this out for yourself before class.

Further reading: here are some terms you will almost certainly hear - http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-7372/5-most-overused-and-underexplained-yoga-terms.html

Here are 149 yoga studios in the Phoenix area - http://www.yelp.com/search?find_desc=Yoga+Studio&find_loc=Phoenix%2C+AZ

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