September 19, 2018

Finding the yoga class that's right for you

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I’d like to start yoga … but where do I begin?

Maybe you are considering yoga for flexibility and strength training, or you’ve heard it’s a good form of cross training. Maybe your physical therapist even recommended it to help you recover from an injury. But then the question becomes what type of yoga is right for you?

With so many different forms, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out what’s right for your goals and interests. There are the forms focusing on meditation and long-held postures such as Yin, and others with power flow style classes that can be more challenging such as Ashtanga. Whatever your goal with starting a yoga practice, the best place to start is either with a beginner or private class.

Benefits of taking a yoga class

While there are numerous – and good, quality – apps and videos available, maintaining the correct form is key to getting the most out of the practice.

While you might think you’re holding the position correctly, an instructor might point out where you need to lift your arm or lengthen your spine. Even small adjustments to a posture can make a significant difference.

An instructor can also help ensure you’re not practicing in a way that will make you more prone to injury by putting pressure on joints. And, just as important, the other benefit to a class is that you can learn the terminology for the forms and styles.

Common yoga styles

The different styles of yoga help make it accessible to a wide variety of people. Because there are so many styles, most people can find something that fits their personality or workout preference.

Here's a a brief description of the different styles and the personality types who might enjoy them.

Ashtanga

  • What is it? A vigorous style of yoga that follows specific sequence of postures (every class will cover same poses). Each movement is linked to breath.

  • Who might enjoy it? Cardio junkies looking to increase flexibility or cross train.

Bikram

  • What is it? Performed in heated studio/room. Like Ashtanga in that it will follow specific sequence.

  • Who might enjoy it? Must love heat, looking for a sweat, intense workout.

Hatha/flow

  • What is it? A generic term used to describe any flow style yoga. Poses will be linked together and flow from one to the next. Generally more basic and goal is balance of strength/flexibility.

  • Who might enjoy it? Great for beginners and experienced alike. The linking of poses (flow) can be meditative for individuals looking to gain mind/body benefits.

Hot yoga

  • What is it? Similar to Bikram in that this is performed in a heated studio. Room temperatures vary across studios. The style of yoga varies from held poses to more of a flow style.

  • Who might enjoy it? People who like the heat and want a bit more variety.

Restorative

  • What is it? A wind down style where poses are gentle and can be held for longer periods of time with emphasis on mobility/flexibility.

  • Who might enjoy it? Looking to stretch and release or unwind from life.

Yin

  • What is it? Similar to restorative but poses are held longer.

Prenatal

  • What is it? Classes geared towards women who are expecting or looking to become pregnant.

  • Who might enjoy it? Pregnant women. It seems obvious but occasionally you’ll get someone who didn’t read the description.

If you have questions, you can also call the studio or speak with the instructor to help find the best fit for your goals. Most studios offer a free drop-in session to give you a chance to experience the class and the instructor. And, many gyms and fitness facilities also offer classes, which can be convenient if you’re already going there to work out.