1. Make sure you arrive for class 10-15 minutes early. This gives you time to get changed, set up your mat and props and have a few minutes of quiet time before practice begins. By giving yourself enough time to get to class you eliminate the over-stimulation of your adrenal glands (say goodbye to that adrenaline rush!) by rushing to make it to class, which is exactly what we are all trying to avoid by practicing yoga in the first place. The goal is to get calm and centered not give yourself heart palpitations!
2. If you are dealing with an Injury/Health Concern make sure you make the Teacher aware of it before class begins. Do this with every class you attend, even if it is with the same Teacher. Depending on how many classes per week we teach and how many studios we teach for we may not remember your specific needs so you do us a service (not to mention yourself) by reminding us. FYI if you are "recovering" AKA currently seeing a Therapist for an injury or have just completed your therapy we still need to know about the issue. We may be utilizing the body part which you are having issues with in class and can give you modifications through out to keep you from injuring yourself, but we can't do this if we don't know about it.
3. Honour the Wisdom of your own Body. Our bodies are miraculous, no one tells them to breath the air, to circulate the blood, to heal wounds/infections, they just do those things (and so much more). Quite frankly our bodies are smarter then we are! So if you experience sharp or localized pain at any point through the class that is the bodies way of saying you are taking your practice too far that day, let go of your ego/sense of competition and heed the warning (even Teachers need to be reminded of this at times). Ask the Teacher for a modification (if they don't offer one) and remember to practice Compassion with your physical form. If you want it to continue its' very important work you need to show it a little Respect & Love .
4. If you are unsure of how to come into a pose, don't be afraid to wave the Teacher over and ask for clarification/pointers. This will keep you from injuring yourself (short and long term) and you will get the intended benefits out of the posture. There is nothing worse than realizing after 6 months of practicing that you have been doing the pose incorrectly. Then you have to work to undo all that brain and muscle conditioning!
5. When your Teacher says "If you have (insert advanced/challenging pose name here) in your practice and you wish to take it now feel free", and you don't have that specific pose in your practice please do not attempt it. The last sentence is usually followed by "If you have never taken this pose before please do not make today your first try," or something along those lines, but even if the Teacher neglects to add on that last bit, the reason they are not instructing everyone to take the pose is because it is a challenging pose and can cause harm to you if not executed properly and safely. There will always be another option given for those who aren't at that stage yet, yoga is after all a 'Practice' so it is not expected that you be able to bend yourself into a pretzel in your very first class (or even the second or third!).
And lastly..6. Don't be afraid to Smile, Giggle, Enjoy Yourself! Yoga can have serious positive effects on your body and mind, but it can have a positive effect on your Heart as well if you do yourself the favour of not taking yourself too seriously while on your mat. Put a little smile on your lips as you chant 'OM', have a little chuckle if you wobble or fall out of that Tree Pose..Yoga is more than just exercise, it can free the Soul. Bring the Joy onto your Mat! If you associate Happiness with being on your Yoga Mat it will make it that much easier for you to get on it and Practice regularly..and enjoy it too!!
I'll leave you with these Pearls of Yoga Wisdom, some are my own and some I have picked up from other Teachers (you never stop being a Yoga Student!). Do with them what you will, but always remember that a Yoga Teachers' greatest desire is to assist you in bettering yourself, by practicing these little tips you will be helping us in our duty!