It’s become common knowledge nowadays that yoga is good for pretty much anyone at any stage in their life. But when considering which exact yoga class to take, it can be confusing due to the variety of styles and teachers out there. If you have a lot of time, I would suggest going to as many different classes with as many different teachers as possible. Then you can decide based on your own personal experience who and what works for you. A lot of the reason behind why you like or don’t like a particular class or teacher is chemical, just like any other relationship.
But let’s be realistic here. Most of us don’t have all the time in the world to flit from one class to another, as fun as that might be. So here are some preliminary questions to consider when deciding which yoga discipline makes the most sense for you:
- How active are you already / outside of yoga? ::
If you regularly run or play a sport, you’re likely getting enough of a cardio workout, and your joints may need something to counter any high impact. In this case you’d benefit most from a slower-moving class, such as Hatha, Iyengar,Restorative, or a Level 1 Flow. These types of classes may be challenging for you if you’re used to pounding the pavement, but they’ll bring you the mostbalance.
On the other hand, if you don’t do much exercise, consider a stronger form of yoga, such as Vinyasa Flow, Power, or Ashtanga. Anything that is described as ‘dynamic’. That way you’ll get your heart rate up while stretching, learning to breathe deeply, and getting all the other benefits of yoga at the same time. Take note that many teachers teach a variation of ‘flow’, and one teacher’sspecific style can be very different from another’s. You might find it helpful to read the teacher’s bio and class description before going to class to see what intuitively feels right for you.
- Are you injured, whether a recent short-term injury or a chronic ache orpain? ::
If so, I’d start with at least a handful of private one-on-one sessions, tolearn modifications and what you’ll want to avoid. See if you can find a teacher with a Yoga Therapy or Rehabilitation background.
- Are you pregnant? ::
If you’re newer to yoga and pregnant, as above I’d suggest a few one-on-onesessions first. But once you learn the do’s and don’t‘s, and as long as you’re feeling good, feel free to take non pre-natal classes. I’d just stay away from hot yoga (unless you’ve been a hot practitioner from before pregnancy) or advanced classes, and be sure to inform your teachers how far along you are so they can tell you what’s okay during each trimester.
- What is it that draws you to yoga? Is it more physical, mental, or spiritual? ::
It’s probably some combination of all of the above, but depending on the discipline of choice, one aspect will likely be more emphasized than the others.
If you’re looking more for a mental practice, consider a meditation-specific class (though all yoga practice is ultimately a moving-meditation).
If you’re looking more specifically for the spiritual experience, check outKirtan or Kundalini.
This is just meant to get your wheels turning as you first consider getting on a yoga mat. The aforementioned styles don’t comprise an exhaustive list, so if you come across something I didn’t mention, feel free to send me any specific questions.
In short, I think yoga practice should support you, and make you feel more centered and balanced. Yoga can heal the body, quiet the mind, and open theheart, so that you can move through your life with more ease. So really, the question ought to be: why not yoga??
Having taught in California and Hong Kong, Leah is now based in London, and brings years of dedicated practice and training to her teaching, rooting the traditional foundation of yoga, but also incorporating contemporary understanding. Leah has been Nike’s Global Yoga Ambassador and Master Trainer since 2009, and leads training and events around the globe, incorporating Yoga programs based at KX.
• Yoga instructor
• Nike Global Yoga Ambassador
• Nike Master Trainer