Want to Start yoga? Here’s How to Choose the Best Class for You
Have you ever tried yoga before? If not, there are numerous reasons to give it a go. If you have noticed little aches and pains creeping into your day, know that with yoga, you’ll be able to bend and stretch like the best of them. But, which class is right for you?
There are numerous yoga styles and there will be one that you feel an affinity with but you may want to try out a few different classes first of all. Alternatively, do a little research online and check out the essential aspects of each style. Hatha yoga is a general yoga style and many people start with this style. It is an ancient system which focuses on the practice of yoga postures along with breathing exercises and in each class, you may have a great variation.
In Ashtanga yoga, you learn a series of movements which are arranged in a set sequence, Ashtanga is known to be a physically challenging style. There are many other styles which include Bikram yoga and Iyengar yoga. So, you can see from this short list alone that it pays to do a little research before committing.
How qualified is your teacher?
If you are a complete novice to yoga, you won’t know what to look for in a yoga teacher. Not all are as experienced or qualified. Word of mouth is a good place to start as if friends recommend a yoga class to you, then, their experiences speak for themselves. It’s useful to do a little research into the styles of yoga available and to then go and check out the class for yourself. Most teachers will not mind you sitting in for a while to view the session. You can then ask all the questions you need.
Why you need to start with a beginner’s class
There will always be varying degrees of flexibility and fitness levels irrespective of the level of class. No two people are the same when it comes to flexibility. So, it’s important to understand that yoga is non-competitive. You strive for progress according to your current physical levels and not to compete against others. A beginner’s class enables you to learn at the same pace. Even if some people have attended several sessions or terms, it does not mean that they will be much more advanced than you. The teachers will aim the session at the fitness levels of those who are attending. They will walk around and assess your body position within the pose to ensure you have the correct alignment. Small adjustments can make a big difference in yoga.
How good is the teacher?
If you are attending a session simply to observe, it’s useful to see how good the teacher is at explaining the benefits of the pose and how they help each of the students to gain the most out of the session. How dedicated is the teacher to the session and to their own practice? Ideally you want the teacher to have had years of experience, not just in teaching, but with their own practice too. This experience is so relevant to the needs of those who are attending.
Commit to a term
When you are new to yoga, it’s easy to form judgments about how good someone is at teaching. Yet, you may have very little knowledge to compare. Through research and through visiting sessions to observe, you should have a general idea as to the style of yoga you would like to learn. You will also know if you feel a sense of trust, belief and rapport with the teacher.
Once you believe you have found the yoga class for you, then, sign up and commit to a full-term. This works two-fold. You set your mindset that you are attending so to gain the full knowledge of those sessions and by the end of it, you will be far better placed to know whether you wish to continue with the style. You will also wish to attend as you have paid for your term in advance and this always motivates attendance.
Communicate and Set goals
It’s important to talk to your yoga teacher and explain what you wish to learn from the session. If you have a bad back, let’s say a lower back problem, you may need to adjust some of the postures to avoid strain in this area. Your teacher will show you how to do this. Once your back and core muscles have strengthened, you can work deeper into the pose. Set goals for progression. Like any goal, they should be realistic.
You may wish to improve flexibility of your hamstrings or, you may have neck or shoulder problems and wish to create greater flexibility in these areas. Your goals will be personal to you but it is worth discussing with your yoga teacher. This way, your yoga teacher can advise you on the type of postures that will work those muscles. Yoga teachers should understand basic anatomy. By relaying this information to you, it will help you to visualize these muscles working when within the stretch. Ultimately, yoga does not work on just specific areas, the focus is on the whole body. By practicing regularly, you can start to feel healthier and more toned in very little time at all.
How many classes?
You may wish to sign up for just the one class a week and this will still give you so many benefits. Ultimately, the more you do, the greater the health benefits. Your yoga teacher is likely to advise you to practice at least three times a week but if you can provide a daily practice, so much the better. There are numerous online classes and it’s worth signing up for one of these. This will give you professional tuition in between your actual yoga classes. This way, you don’t slip into bad habits. If time is limited, try to learn and perfect the sun salutation sequence. This works the whole of your body and can be utilized on those days when you have little time to yourself.
In conclusion, all you need is a little research as a starting point. The emphasis will be on trying out a few sessions to see how you get on. Don’t start with unrealistic expectations, learn to go with the flow right from the start. Be guided by the teacher. If you do not feel comfortable within the class or, are not getting the right tuition, there’s nothing stopping you from changing. The choice is yours. In time, you will find one style and teacher who helps you to embrace the yoga way.