As a health coach and yoga teacher I often work with people who are stepping out of their comfort zone and trying a new form of exercise, like yoga, for the first time. As you probably would guess, I love yoga and I highly recommend it to my friends and clients. It is important to move our bodies in a way that energizes and empowers us. For many people, yoga is the perfect complement to their other workout routines and helps balance their stressful and busy lives. If you are feeling overwhelmed by all the yoga studios and options out there and aren’t sure where to start, here are some tips for you.
Set Your Intention
What do you want to get out of a yoga class? Like anything we do in life, what we put into it is what we get out of it. What are your goals? Many people are looking for relaxation, stress release, strength training or weight loss when they start a yoga practice. Set your intention first. Once you know what you are looking for it will be easier to determine the type of yoga that will help you on your journey.
Determine Your Needs
You will find that there are many different forms and styles of yoga practice. Here are some sample questions to ask yourself:
Are you an avid runner who is looking to reduce the chance of injury through regular, deep stretching?
Will yoga be your primary form of exercise? What other exercise will you do?
Are you looking for a meditative, stress-relieving experience that helps you calm down at the end of the day?
Are you looking to lose weight and do you want a high intensity class to burn calories?
No matter who you are there is a type of yoga that can help you meet your goals, but it helps to do some research about your options. I’ve talked to people who decided that yoga was not for them after just a few classes, but, in reality, it may have been the specific teacher, studio or style of yoga that wasn’t a good fit.
Check Out Your Options
There are a lot of different styles of yoga for you to choose from. I suggest you try a variety of different studios and styles before you decide which type is right for you. In an attempt to be brief in this post, I’m not outlining all of the various styles of yoga and their benefits. You can find every type of experience- from classes that are in really hot rooms with an intense cardio-style flow series to a class at room temperature where you lay on your back the entire time surrounded by props and blankets holding each posture for several minutes for deep stretching. Here are a few tips while researching your options:
Ask your friends and family for recommendations of their favorite studios and join them during one of their next classes.
Do a web search for yoga studios and classes in your area. On the studio or gym website read the instructor backgrounds and bios and class descriptions. Most studio websites will give you an outline of the type of practice you can expect and may even have sample videos of classes in their studio.
Look for the “introductory” or “beginner” classes. Some studios even have beginner workshops that will teach you about that specific type or tradition of yoga in a relaxed environment.
Try a lot of different styles. If you do not like that particular class, studio or instructor do not give up. Keep going to different classes and studios until you find one that works for you.