Picking a yoga class that's right for you
You have finally given in and decided to try this yoga malarkey. Your doctor said you should, your friends said you should, your boss said you should. So there you are googling yoga classes near you and what comes up is a mine field! What are these woo woo yoga classes, and what do they all mean? Which one “should” you go to? Ashtanga yoga. Wut. Vinyasa yoga. Nope. Bikram yoga. Ugh.
Sound familiar? Well the good news is that there is no “right type” of yoga. The point is just to get yourself onto a mat, get away from the to-do lists and get your body moving. But of course you want to know what you’ve signed up for! So here’s a little run down of some of the common types of classes you can find and what to expect.
Actually, all yoga is Hatha Yoga so this might be a little confusing. Hatha means Sun and Moon and references all postures as a collective. Traditionally, Hatha Yoga was pretty bad ass advanced postures, but today a Hatha Yoga is usually foundational poses; ideal for beginners who want a "taster."
Vinyasa means “flow” so this class is a series of postures linked together by movement. You’ll find yourself continually in motion. Some teachers play music in the background, to help you get into the flow. Some don’t, and encourage you instead to use your breath to connect the poses.
You’re going to get hot and sweaty, like a LOT. Bikram yoga often uses a lot of long holds, locks and binds and heats the room up to a whopping 42 degrees Celsius. Make sure to replenish your body afterwards with a magnesium bath and some rehydration salts!
Ashtanga means 8 Limbs. What are these limbs you might ask? They are the baseline of all yoga philosophy and encompass yoga-type things you might know about like meditation, pranayama (breathing) AND asana (poses) so in reality all classes you attend will be Ashtanga classes. If you sign up for an Ashtanga Class though you will find the class to be fast paced and the teaching to be tightly aligned to a traditional practice. There is often a large focus placed on alignment and perfecting each posture and movement.
Step into my office. Power yoga does exactly what you think it does. It focuses on a selection of poses that build strength and flexibility in the body and mind. The intention is less on perfecting traditional asana and having “correct” alignment, and more on making each pose work for you and your body type. You can expect to to build a lot of internal heat, sweat (some power yoga classes are heated) and actively link your breath to movement. The result is a strong, controlled practice. The control you gain over the body brings a powerful control to the mind that filters into your life.
Yin is Yum! This is not an energetic style of class. In Yin yoga you will hold a selection of poses for five minutes or so. You'll often find yourself propped up on cushions, blocks, small horses etc. This is a great way to release tension in your body, relieve tight muscles and calm your mind.
Not a style of yoga, but a question I get a lot so I thought I’d be a rebel and chuck it in. Pilates is a form of exercise; fantastic for targeting specific muscle groups in a controlled and effective way. Yoga uses the body as a vessel to gain control of the mind. It’s not just a physical practice – maybe you think it is, but us sneaky teachers are weaving pranayama (breath) and meditation into your practice every day! And it doesn’t stop when we bow our heads and say Namaste; Yoga students take lessons of ahimsa (peace), satya (non-stealing), aparigraha (non-coveting) etc off the mat and into their everyday lives. Yoga is a lifestyle.
And if all this choice just becomes too much to bear, remember you can always practice yoga with me at any time from the comfort of your own home using my online yoga videos.