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How to Pick a Yoga Class

YellowStone_thermaljpgHatha. Bikram. Vinyasa Flow. Hot Yoga. Power Yoga. Viniyoga (my personal favorite). Forrest Yoga. Restorative. Yin Yoga. Warrior & Outlaw Yoga.

Those names are just a few of the seemingly endless “styles” of yoga on the market today. It can get really confusing really fast when you’re trying to pick a class.

It didn’t used to be so complicated. In 1990, when I first took a yoga class there were just a handful of “styles” (called traditions back then) and they were based on over 5,000 years of yoga tradition originating in India.

Also, there was only 1 studio in the City of Atlanta where I lived. Lucky for me I found the yoga I love and still practice today at that studio. I will be forever grateful to Martin and Margaret Pierce for launching me on my yoga journey.

Now yoga is mainstream. There are dozens and dozens of styles of yoga. Yoga studios are everywhere and range from the neighborhood studio to the national chain. There are huge events like yoga rocks the park, Friday night yoga and chant fests that attract large crowds. Overall, I view this growth as positive because it gets people moving and engaged.

With all these styles, it’s obvious that not all yoga is alike and it’s really important to find a style that resonates with you. A friend recently had a very uncomfortable experience in a class and it took her several days to recover. She was telling me the story and suggested I blog about the different styles of yoga, which I’ll plan to do.

Self-Protection Tips

No matter which class you attend, following are four tips to always keep in mind for your self-protection:

  1. Bring your attention inward and listen to your body. No one knows what’s going on inside you better than you do.
  2. If a posture is painful, stop immediately even if everyone else in the room is doing it. You need to feel safe and comfortable and stay injury free.
  3. If this class really isn’t working for you, it’s okay to rest in child’s pose and/or sit in meditation. The teacher will probably approach you, depending on the class size, but that’s okay. Just say you’re taking a little time out. She’ll understand and if she doesn’t that’s okay.
  4. Never, ever let a teacher adjust you while you are in a posture. Yoga teachers aren’t licensed to do that and it’s been the cause of many injuries. They should ask permission, which doesn’t always happen, even if it’s just to place a hand on your back.

How to Pick a Style

Out of all the types of yoga how do you pick the one for you? Google, of course, is a great tool, but the generic description doesn’t always match the in-class experience because each teacher has his/her own unique style.

Following are some questions and suggestions to use for narrowing the field:

  1. What are your goals (your “intention” in yogi speak) for practicing yoga?
    1. Do you want a vigorous workout that could replace your gym workout?
    2. Do you want something gentle, nurturing and restorative?
    3. Are you looking for a therapeutic practice that focuses on specific areas of your body?
    4. Are you looking for something more traditional that combines asana, breathing techniques and meditation?
  2. What is your experience level? Most class descriptions tell you if it’s designed for Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced or All Levels. It’s okay to ratchet down but be careful about getting into a class above your skill level. That’s an easy way to get injured.
  3. Are you willing to experiment? It could take a little time to find the right fit, so keep an open mind and refer to the self-protection tips.

Feel free to email joanne@yogaforself.net if there is a particular style you’d like to know more about. I’ll be sure to blog about it.

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Joanne Thompson

Joanne Thompson

Founder/Owner at Yoga for Self

Health is a precious gift and my goal is to help you live a healthier, happier life through yoga. Every private session is uniquely designed just for you. For a free telephone consultation call me at 303.818.4181. Discover whether personalized, private yoga instruction is right for you.
Joanne Thompson

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