What to Expect When Going to Your First Yoga Workshop

Here are my top 10 (plus 2) tips for your very first yoga workshop:

In today’s post, I thought I would talk little about one of my most favorite things to do….go to Yoga Workshops!  OMG, seriously–especially back in the “pre-baby” days, I would look online for any workshop near me on the weekends I wasn’t working and then sign up!  I workshopped on Inversions, Ashtanga, Hip Openers, Back Bends, breath work, you name it. I loved workshops because it helped to really hone in on some aspect of yoga that really, you just can’t get into in a regular 60 – 90-minute yoga class.  Plus, as an added bonus, I got to explore area studios (I was up near Philly at the time, so there were a TON!) which gave me lots of ideas for the “one day” that I could have my own studio…Little did I know that one day would be so soon, but I digress…

Yoga workshops are great because they are short, intense bursts of information, examples, and opportunities to practice with someone that you may never have had the experience of practicing with.  Sometimes, you can practice something for months or even years, and a new teacher will say something some way you’ve never heard before and BAM…just like that, you get the concept. It’s also great to get out of your comfort zone, and practice some yoga –not just the asana kind, but the deep down, this is new and I need to expand my sphere and comfort sort of yoga.  Who knows, you may make a new friend for life! Some of my dearest yoga buddies are friends that I’ve made in yoga trainings that life 12 + hrs away. We come together to workshop and it’s like no time has passed at all!

In today’s Post, I thought I’d give you a few tips for you to consider when planning for and going to your first yoga workshop.

  1. When looking for a yoga workshop, don’t be afraid to travel some.  I mean, budget notwithstanding, but even if you look at maybe a 60 minute drive radius, you may be surprised at how many options there are for you to explore.  Of course, if your budget allows, there are yoga destination workshops all over the world, literally–from India, Thailand,Mexico….I’m actually trying to set up a yoga destination trip to Cuba!

If you’re interested in a trip to Cuba in 2020, shoot me an email, let me know!  

2)  Do your homework.  Make sure the person you’re going to see either has the certifications you are interested in, the experience with the topic you want to cover, or has some sort of “social proof.”  No, I don’t think that all workshops have to be led by folks that are YA certified, but you do want someone that has some experience teaching and practicing. Sure, you may find a gymnast that makes 1-finger pushups look like a breeze, but if they’ve never taught before, how do you know they can teach you?  Yoga takes years and years of practice, so if you want to be sure you’re in good hands, check out their bio, their social media pages, their blog posts, or maybe even try to find someone that has gone to their workshops before.

EXAMPLE OF THIS:  When I was SUPER new to yoga, I didn’t care who was teaching what–i just wanted to learn!  This led me to going to some interesting–but not necessarily the most beneficial workshops, learning things that my teacher had to undo…so beware

Alternatively, sometimes there’s a new to the scene person that could be a very good teacher, just be careful when you start incorporating new things to your practice.  Listen to your body, make sure it feels good and stop when you notice things aren’t right.

3) Bring something to take notes.  Trust me, you’re gonna want to write some of the words of wisdom, cues, nuggets of goodness down.  Maybe you hear one small verbal suggestion and it totally rocks your world–write it down! Maybe the teacher shows you a brand new way to adjust someone (for all you teachers out there) take notes, take pictures, do something to record it!  Most teachers are ok with you taking notes or recording, but it is always best to find out. Be cognizant of the energy of the room, so you’re not slowing things down or being a distraction by your record keeping though.

I recently found a voice recording of my now deceased yoga teacher.  It made me cry. She was teaching us some mantras, or chants. Her voice sounded so different than my memory had it.  Seriously, you’ll treasure your notes, so take them.

4) this goes without saying, but BRING YOUR YOGA MAT!  I say this, because, I kid you not, I’ve forgotten my mat NUMEROUS times!  OMG (and this is before I could blame it on the baby brain!) As you probably read in a prior post, yogis can be weird about their yoga mats, so not only is it a little bit of comfort to have your mat with you, it’s also a huge inconvenience if you don’t!  Not all yoga studios offer extra mats for rent–this I’ve learned as I had to buy a mat from a studio once full price…that I wasn’t in love with. OUCH!

5) Be open to making new friends!  When you first come in, basically everyone is new to each other.  Granted, the local studio people will possibly know each other, but honestly, that’s just small pockets.  Get yourself set up, turn to the person on your left or right (or both) and say HI! Now listen, I can see you snort and say ya right, “but I’m so shy!”  Ok listen. I don’t love not knowing people. In fact, I’m rather introverted believe it or not. I’d rather hang out at home and just be with my happy little self (and now family) than the social butterfly…BUT, you’ll be amazed at the new people you meet at these workshops.  Plus, as an added benefit, you may make a lifelong friend that lives in a super nice warm (or for you cold lovers) cool place that you now can go visit! I’ve made a friend in Boston whom I’ve had the pleasure of staying with a few times, down in Florida (although I’ve yet to take her up on the offer to stay with her), Georgia, Virginia, New York, you name it!  Like the girl scouts song says, “make new friends, but keep the old ones..” These yoga workshops are great ways to do just that!

6) BRING LOTS OF WATER, a Towel, change of clothes, snacks, & deodorant. Depending on the type of practice or workshop, one water bottle may suffice, but even for a gentle workshop like the Ball Therapy Workshop we just had, you need water to flush out your system, so bring it, drink it, and keep drinking.  If you’re workshopping at a Bikram studio, you’ll need a LOT more water….Once, I did a 3 hr Bikram workshop after a 90 minute Bikram class….I drank 4 liters of water during the workshop and soaked 2 towels. It was pretty gross, but also AMAZINGLY AWESOME. One day, you’ll have to ask me about the sweat puddle…but I digress.  That leads me to the deodorant statement. Yes…definitely bring some of that, esp if it’s a physically intensive workshop.

7) Come with QUESTIONS!  So if you know you are workshopping on backbends… what are your questions?  Let the person talk and give examples, but remember what you wanted specific help with, because nothing is worse than having something you’re dying to get figured out on your mind to be completely forgotten in the moment.  OMG..speaking from experience here.

8) You will hear stories…lots of stories.  Be prepared to listen. Honestly, it’s the stories that are some of my favorite parts of yoga workshops.  Especially with more senior teachers. They have wisdom just oozing out of their pores and you can learn a lot from stories about random people maybe 50 years ago, that still pertain to you today.  

9) Be prepared to introduce yourself and give a little 60-second elevator pitch about yourself.  Now, this isn’t to sell yourself or anything, but depending on the workshop-the size of the crowd, etc, you’ll likely be asked your name, a little of your yoga history, what brought you to the workshop, etc. If you have a hard time speaking in public, don’t let this dissuade you, just be prepared to say something really quick. The good news is, you’ll be sitting next to a new friend that you already introduced yourself to, so your elevator pitch may be almost exactly like what you said to your new friend!  Talk about two birds, one stone!

10) Eat well the day (or days) before the workshop–especially if they are more active, and be hydrated –which means, don’t drink as much alcohol right before the trainings.  Yoga workshops are physical in nature–even if you’re workshopping on meditation or restorative. No one wants to be uncomfortable from Thanksgiving Feast that morning, or Mexican and margaritas from the night before, and laying in Deer Pose (a pose performed on your side and belly for restorative) or in a deep crescent lunge twist in either scenario….It’s bad.  Really bad. Let your body be in the best shape it can be for this workshop so that you can receive the most for the time you’ve spent there.

11)  Try to be well rested.  When you have had plenty of rest, your mind will retain more, your body will perform better, and you will feel better.  This will make the entire experience all the much better. That’s not to say you can’t go into a workshop without eating well or sleeping well, but I’ve gone to a training after a 12 hr night shift, and after 8 solid hours of sleep.  I promise you, I remember more from the well-rested training than the super sleepy training.

And finally…..

12) this tip is for the super active workshops…remember your protein!  When I was in my early 30s, recovery wasn’t something I thought about. I mean, I’d get “sore” –using air quotes here because what I thought was sore then is NOTHING like sore now, almost a decade later!  So, my tip for recovery–whether after a 2.5 hr workshop or a 3 week workshop…increase your protein intake. Protein feeds your muscles, your muscles are working, so feed them before the workshop and feed them right after the intense physical part.  I’m not kidding, the difference is night and day in terms of how fatigued and sore my body is with the extra protein and without it.

Here’s a glimpse into my day for a more physical workshop:

Try to sleep well the night before (with kids, that’s easier said than done).  The morning of, My personal preference is a juice or smoothie a minimum of 2 hrs before the practice (smoothie, I add a vegetarian protein –mainly because whey protein and I aren’t friends), I drink a liter of water an hr before the workshop, and I never skip coffee.  I drink water during the practice if I need to, but usually, the morning smoothie and liter of water are good for the duration of the practice. After practice, I’ll drink another liter of water with some sort of protein, like a cheese stick or a protein bar. If I have a multi-day workshop, I will add in coconut water to the mix because the potassium and extra hydrating components seem to help me not be as sore.  Healthy dinner that night and early bedtime that evening.

We have a TON of special events –ie workshops in the pipes.  If you are curious about taking the plunge into a yoga workshop, or just want to learn a little more, now you have the perfect set of tips to get you through, so why not join us!?  You’ll make new friends, learn something new about your favorite practice, and maybe even leave with a better appreciation for your yoga, your studio, or even the new (to you) teacher!  I hope to see you in the studio again soon!

By Jennifer Dixon MBA ERYT 500