In 2001, 4.3 million Americans were getting their ‘om’ on and hitting the yoga mat. Recently, that number has almost quadrupled to about 16.5 million! The word is out about yoga’s myriad benefits: improved strength and flexibility, reduced stress and greater peace of mind. Still, with all the options and types of yoga offered people who want to get into a yoga routine just don’t know where to start.
So let’s simplify by using these two steps to help you find the type of practice and place that’s best for you…
1. Figure out what your yoga style is…
Hatha– Perfect for beginners as Hatha explains the physical practice of yoga. This class is usually gentle and basic with no flow between the poses. It is considered a stretching class with some breathing exercises and a bit of mediation too. It’s great for learning relaxation techniques and becoming comfortable on your mat.
Vinyasa– Known as an athletic type of yoga as it is challenging and great for building strength. It’s a fluid workout that is lead by the breath and flows from one pose to the next . You can expect to build a lot of core strength in this class! It’s mostly practiced with music which makes the environment fun and motivating. *Usually offered in HOT yoga. Meaning the room is set at 90 degrees or higher.
Ashtanga– You need to know your basic poses before you jump into an Ashtanga class as it is a fast moving and physically strenuous class. This practice is similar to Vinyasa except it is a structured with a traditional series of postures done in the same order every time. If you are capable of taking a Vinyasa class then you are capable to taking an Ashtanga class however Ashtanga might seem more intense because it has a way of bringing you deeper within yourself. With no music in the background, you hear your own breath and the instructions of your teacher more clearly. There are fewer distractions, and a more singularly focused energy flows through the room. *Sometimes offered in HOT yoga. Meaning the room is set at 90 degrees or higher.
Bikram– 26 postures done twice with the room temp set at 105 for a 90 minute duration. The SAME postures every class. This sweaty class is excellent for posture training, cleansing the body, pumping fresh, oxygenated blood to your organs and will assist with weight loss.
Iyengar & Yin– Deep stretching and relaxation known for healing and injured people. Poses are held for 2-5 minutes at a time. Iyengar is especially known for its the use of props, including belts, chairs, blocks, and blankets, to help accommodate any special needs such as injuries or structural imbalances. Poses may seem uncomfortable at first but you’ll use your breath to relax tense muscles for deep stretching in the connective tissue around the joints. Its an oh so restorative practice.
2. Now Find a Favorite Instructor/Studio…
Ask a Friend– Just about everyone has that one friend who won’t shut up about yoga, right? Now’s your chance to make use of that person. I consider myself to be one of those annoying yoga people and I love to play matchmaker between my yoga novice friends and favorite teachers. This is also a good time to make use of those social media connections. Post on Facebook or Twitter and watch people come out of the woodwork to recommend their favorite class to you. Once people find a yoga teacher they like, they can get downright evangelical about it, so take advantage of their experiences.
Shop Around– Ok, so hopefully you’ve gotten a few names of teachers or yoga studios that your friends like. Now go out and try them all. The relationship between you and your teacher is very important. You have to trust them but also know that they trust you to make decisions for what works best for your body. You must to like them, embrace their style, enjoy their presence and recognize their humor. These can be tough qualities to find, so don’t despair if you don’t like the first teacher you try. Keep looking and things will fall into place!