Any time you start something new you’re bound to make a few mistakes along the way, and yoga is no exception. Ask any yoga instructor and she’ll tell you all about the ones she made when she started doing yoga.

I often hear friends of mine telling me they’d love to start yoga but they’re afraid of “xyz”. I always let them know that a yoga studio is one of the most welcoming and forgiving environments you could step foot into, and there’s truly no need to worry.

But, in case you’re feeling a bit nervous about testing out your first class, here are some mistakes you can avoid to help you feel more comfortable.

Mistake #1: Bringing your shoes into the yoga room.
Yoga is done with bare feet and in order to make sure the studio space remains clean, students are required to take their shoes off before entering the practice space. Leave your shoes out in the cubbies in the lobby, or you can carry them into a cubby inside the practice room.

Mistake #2: Not Silencing your cell phone and bringing it to your mat.
We’ve all been in a class where we finally lay down for a blissful savassana to be met with a cell phone going off. Make sure to turn you cell phone on silent so that if you get a call during class it doesn’t interrupt anyone. It’s best practice to leave your cell phone in the lobby or in your bag unless there is a specific emergency you’re waiting for contact about.

For most people entering the yoga room signifies time to unplug and meditate and there’s nothing more distracting then sitting on your mat while someone scrolls through their Instagram feed or watches videos on Facebook next to you. Give yourself permission to be fully present— it’s only an hour and I promise you’ll feel better for it.

Mistake #3: Not getting or using props.
Standard protocol for props is two blocks and one blanket. Make sure to grab them before class starts so you’re prepared for class. You may also get a strap, bolster, or additional blanket depending on the type of class or what the teacher suggests.

A very common misconception is that if you use props you’re not doing the pose right or that you’re making it easier. This is a complete myth and in fact, often times using blocks actually makes the poses more challenging because they bring you into proper alignment and force you to actually engage all of your muscles. Blocks and blankets are your yoga BFFs— hang out with them often. Don’t be upset if the teacher recommends you use a prop in a pose; it doesn’t meant you’re doing it wrong.

Mistake #4: Putting your mat down in a random place.
Yoga classes in the Hoboken and Jersey City area can get crowded at times and organizing the room ensures that there is space for everyone in the class. Try to avoid setting your mat up in between rows and instead make sure you’re in line with other people’s mats.

Also know that you may have to move around a bit once everyone starts filing into class. Be willing to do so with a smile on your face. All of us will be the one that needs a spot at some point, and it’s way nicer to make room for someone than to make them feel like they’re bothering everyone in class.

Mistake #5: Arriving late and entering before “OHM”.
We all run late from time to time and that’s not a reason to miss class. General protocol is students are allowed to join a class up to 10 minutes after the class begins. However, if you’re late and the teacher has already closed the door, make sure to listen to what’s going on before barreling into the room at full speed ahead.

If the teacher and students are chatting, it’s fine to enter. But if it sounds like the teacher is still centering the class before chanting “ohm”, then wait until that part is done. After ohm, enter the class discreetly and join in. Another great idea is to call the studio if you’re running late and ask them to lay down a mat for you. That way, you’re not coming in and having people move mats around once class has started.

Mistake #6: Leaving during savasanna.
This is probably the mistake that is most disruptive to other students and teachers. The meditation portion of savasanna is what people work towards the entire class and it shouldn’t be disturbed by someone walking around, putting props away, and exiting the room.

If you have to leave early it’s totally ok- just do so before savasanna starts. It’s a good idea to set your mat up close to the door and to let the teacher know ahead of time so he knows you’re ok and can clean up your props for you once class is over.

If you have to use the restroom that’s ok too, just make sure to come back before savassana starts otherwise stay in the lobby and come get your belongings once class is over.

Interested in trying out a yoga class in the Hoboken/Jersey City area? Sign up now for a free week at the Hudson Yoga Project.

Be sure to follow @katelombardoyoga and @hudsonyogaproject on Instagram for more info on what’s happening with Kate and the HYP around town!