I recall the first time i went to a yoga class, even more as it was a bikram yoga class ! One of the most intense yoga as it is done in a 40C heated and humid room, keeping up with a set serie of 26 postures (asanas). Hu ! At that time i did not know what yoga was about, neither what Bikram yoga was or i would have certainly cancel my class !
But hey all in all it turned out well as i enjoyed the vibe that was in the class and how i felt after. Not that was hooked, but it got me curious enough so i would practice more and more and more. Out of this, i think because i simply signed up without really thinking, i came to a class with 0 kind of expectations, 0 kind of prejudices.
So Tips 1: Let go prejudices and expectations !
I am too old. I am too fat. I am not flexible. I am a man. Yoga is for religious people. I eat meat. etc. etc. the list of prejudices i usually hear is long !
I am a big believer that the power of yoga resides in its multiplicity of styles, professors, traditions, beliefs so it is suitable for any kind of person, whatever your physical, spiritual abilities are. It is one of the oldest practice that crossed the centuries and became a worldwide practice in our 21st century ! It is not for nothing.
So whether you are old, fat, strong, weak, bendy or not, religious or not, just get to your yoga mat to experience it. You may not like it that is totally fine ! You may want to try another kind of yoga that is also totally fine ! You may get addicted to it, that is awesome :) Anyhow get there with an open mind, ready to receive whatever may come through.
By the way same goes with the teacher, he/she won't expect anything from you. Teacher will guide you through your own practice, that's it. So if you don't feel like doing this headstand, or chant the 3 OMs it is really ok.
Tips 2: Try out many classes, many teachers
With time i found out teacher was key in how much i would appreciate and gain from a yoga class, then only would come into play the kind of yoga. Starting yoga, and if you got lucky as you loved your first class straight away, i would advise you to try out other kinds of teachers and types of yoga anyhow. Not only because they can be very complementary, but because you will build an even nicer practice. Balance your Vinyasa practice with some Yin Yoga, or a strict Ashtanga practice with a more playful Flow class. Meet a teacher that will have that golden aura, and experience a class with a more pragmatic teacher. All are so valuable. Don't get stuck too much in habits as they become ultimately obstacles.
Tips 3: No pain, no pain: stay in touch with your physical body
Yes yoga is not only about the physical abilities, nonetheless it includes the physical body. So before your first class, check with your doctor if there are any counter indication in practicing yoga. Make sure before the class you let know your teacher about any kind of injuries, illness, or pregnancy. Don't expect him/her to guess. The teacher shall give you variations of the postures, make you use props in that case.
In addition stay tuned to your body during the practice, there should be no pain. It is not a "no pain, no gain" practice. You may feel stress, stretch, misalignment... those are normal and should be eased, corrected during the practice. But pain is NOT normal. So get out of the posture and talk to your teacher.
Tips 4: Let go Ego
Following the idea of tips 3 of no pain, no pain; don't force any posture because you want to look good, compete with your neighbor. Take the mat as the place to peel off your ego, your looks, your pride. Rather than trying to get somewhere precise, do what you can from where you are now. Explore with integrity. You are solo on your mat, mat is your space to stay connected with yourself and nothing/no one else.
Tips 5: Don't skip Savasana
I often see beginners, getting into Savasana, the final posture thinking it is either time to take a nap or a non necessary time and a great way to gain 10 minutes on their busy schedule by exiting the class. No ! Savasana is the most important posture of the whole class, not only does it help you settle down after having moved around, but it is the only way to get the real print and benefits of your practice. Body has a memory but it needs time to take it all in. Also don't think falling asleep in Savasana is sign a of a good Savasana. In my opinion it should be the moment of a passive observation of what has occured within your body and mind in your practice. No efforts should be put in that observation, but remaining present to yourself will help you once more to get the benefits of the practice.
Tips 6: Eat light and stay hydrated
Last meal should be at least 2 hours before the class. Avoid greasy, spicy, acid food as they will take longer to digest. If you need a bit of energy in, simply get some nuts or dried apricots. Stay hydrated as you will probably sweat during practice. I personaly don't recommend drinking during practice unless really needed.
Tips 7: Arrive on time
10 minutes is a good time to take to arrive, change your clothes and settle down on your mat. It will help you calm your breathing and distance yourself from the hustle of your day. It is also always a great moment to stretch yourself out a bit.
I hope those will be helpful to you. Always here to answer any of your questions !
Namaste and love