Choosing a Yoga Class That's Right For You
Ashtanga. Anusara. Iyengar. Picking a yoga class these days can be as difficult as pronouncing the names of them. But don't let that deter you. The benefits of yoga far outweigh the challenges of choosing. The good news is that no matter what style of yoga you end up trying, the only thing you'll need to begin is the willingness to show up on your mat. According to Yoga Movement, an online resource for yoga information, "anyone can do yoga-no matter how young or old you are, whether you're a couch potato or a professional athlete."
And the wide variety of class types means that chances are, you'll find something to appeal to you, no matter what draws you to the practice. Yoga may come in a lot of "flavors," but with a little effort, you can get a taste of what you're getting into ahead of time so you know what to expect.
Here's a breakdown of the most popular forms of yoga out there. But keep in mind, you might have to sample a few classes before finding one that's right for you. What you experience in one yoga class can be vastly different from what the studio on the other side of town offers. Don't be afraid to make calls or even stop in to a prospective yoga venue ahead of time. Studio owners and teachers should be happy to give you information and help you assess if a studio is the right place for you.
Hatha yoga: Ha means "sun" and "tha" means moon. Hatha features the union of asana (postures) with breath (pranayama). Simply put, a Hatha class is a straight ahead style that focuses on joining slow and gentle movements with conscious breath work. This is a good class for beginners and one of the easiest classes to find because so many studios offer them.
Iyengar: In Iyengar yoga, emphasis is given to precision and alignment in all postures. Iyengar also ultilizes props such as wooden gadgets, belts, and ropes that help the practitioner to achieve the idealized version of the postures. Iyengar, credited as being the "first" yoga practice in the West, is for students who appreciate a class that strives for artistic expression through scientific instruction.Continued on the next page