Start Here - a beginners guide to yoga
I can remember my first yoga class vividly. I hated it. If it hadn't made me feel so fucking great mentally and physically there is no way I would ever have returned to the mat.
So here are a few tips and truths from me if you are thinking of starting out....
Wear clothes you can move in. You do not need an entire outfit from Lululemon. Anything comfortable that isn't too tight is great. Check that your leggings do not turn see-through when you bend over/the waistband on your shorts doesn't expose a builders bum in a forward fold and you are good to go. The realisation that either of these things happening mid class kind of messes with any zen.
Ask your yogi friends to recommend a teacher. In my opinion teachers are as much about personality as anything else, locality, studio space etc. Some people we gel with, others we are happy to never see again. Maybe try a few teachers and see who you prefer/whose timetable fits around your work/has the shortest walk from the tube.
If you would rather have a private session or ten before joining in a group then take a few private sessions, maybe share the cost with a friend who also wants to start.
I am a fan of people that are new to the mat joining in with everybody else rather than being sequestered into another studio with only other beginners and the teacher. Feeling the energy in room, seeing how others move on the mat has many benefits. It is usual for the teacher not to be stuck on their mat at the front but be moving around the room getting hands on assisting people to stay safe and feel more. Pop yourself somewhere other than the front row so you can see more.
Trust me nobody else is the room is being critical of what you are doing. They are all too busy thinking of their own practice. I will say that again. Trust me nobody else is the room is being critical of what you are doing.
Stay for savasana. The part at the end when you lie on your back. Just feel your breath moving in and out and allow your mind to still. This is the best bit, and leaving before then means your body doesn't have a chance to assimilate all the practice. Yes it feels weird the first few times. And even after you have been practicing for a while it can be challenging to be still. One day though you will find the bliss that keeps people returning to the mat.
Ask questions at the end if you have any. In this day and age it is really easy to make contact with teachers if something comes up after class - god bless the internet! And nothing makes me happier than somebody who has been to class coming back with a question once the practice has settled in.