Finding the Right Yoga Class For YouBy Austin Witherow
Yoga is a completely secular practice. Though it stems from Indian Culture, which predominantly practices Hinduism, anyone can practice.
Yoga means “union”. Union with what? This is where your own belief system comes in. Perhaps you believe in a higher power, or nothing at all. Even if you do not have any particular beliefs, striving for something “higher”, or your personal definition of success, is important to progress with yoga.
Through practicing any style of Yoga, what we seek is of ultimate importance. Perhaps you seek a more a toned and beautiful body, flexibility, peace of mind, or a perhaps to go deeper into self realisation. Below are some of the styles outlined in a simple fashion, but first, let's make sure you are prepared for class!
Getting started with yoga, regardless of which class you take, requires very little gear or equipment! You’ll definitely want to show up with a yoga mat. Make sure if you buy a mat, that you invest in a proper one. The mats at most stores fall apart quite easily. Sometimes a studio will supply mats, but your own mat is worth the investment as practicing outside of the studio is also encouraged.
Going eco-friendly, selecting the proper padding and mat stickiness (so you don’t slip) are the most important qualities. If you’re traveling often, I recommend (and personally use) the Jade Yoga Travel Mat. If traveling isn’t your primary concern, the Jade Yoga Harmony Mat is the perfect fit for you!
Yoga for Phyiscal Fitness and Athleticism
If you’re looking to get your sweat on and work hard, styles like
- Ashtanga Yoga,
- Hatha Yoga,
- Bikram (Hot) Yoga,
- Vinyasa Yoga
focus on physique, strength and aesthetics. These classes could be more difficult for the beginner, but do not be timid in trying them out if you are already going to the gym!
Focusing on Flexibility and Healing
The above classes are great, but if flexiblity and deeper healing of your muscles, tissue and ligaments are your priority, check out
- Yin Yoga,
- Gentle Vinyasa Yoga,
- or Restorative Yoga.
These classes are great for beginners. The range of motion offers good stretching, accomodations to all body sizes, types and experience levels.
These classes often use assistive props such as blankets, blocks and straps to help deepen the level of stretch and opening in each pose. Bringing your own is not usually required, but having your own for your home practice is quite nice! This Heathyoga CorkBlock and Strap set, and any selection of blanket for support and comfort will do.
Looking for Something Deeper?
As stated in the beginning, the original intent of Yoga was to create a state of Union with the “Higher Self”. Yoga offers simple practices of mindful breathing, meditation and visualisation to achieve this. Most classes integrate these techniques, but they are the primary focus in
- Raja Yoga,
- Dhyana Yoga,
- Yoga Nidra,
- and Kundalini Yoga.
These forms of classes are also great for beginners as they do not have as intense of physical requirements to participate. Some of these practices, such as Raja, Dhyana and Kundalini Yoga focus on seated meditation. This stable and comfortable Meditation Cushion by Bloom Yoga is a quality choice!
Qualities of a Good Instructor
Whichever class style you choose, there are some common themes to good instructors. Keep an eye out for the teachers that
- Provide physical adjustment help for postures in class to ensure that you are practicing properly
- Offer multiple levels of expression per each pose to make the class more accessible to all practitioners
- Are engaged before and after class to help guide practitioners on their journey with yoga.
- Not only focused on a purely physical practice, but incorporates knowledge on breath-work and meditative practices.
Most importantly, no matter the style, success in yoga depends on a positive attitude, not being severely critical of ones journey, and consistent practice.