I'm new to yoga, where do I start?
I often get asked a lot of questions about yoga, and I am sure other teachers and regular practitioners get the same thing. I love it! I’ll be in a meeting about 2017 budgeting and someone will ask me a random question about a pose they did in a class, how many times a week they should practice, or what type of yoga class they should go to.
Now I don’t claim to have all the answers or even the right answers, but I love to share what I’ve learned and what has worked for me.
Right, you’ve finally made the decision to start doing yoga! Well done! Maybe you saw a flyer for a class, someone told you how great it was, or it’s something to change-up your fitness routine. So you’ve opened up your browser and used Google and start searching for ‘yoga near me’, ‘best yoga class’, ‘yoga Henley’ (replace with town near you).
That’s a great start, but now you are left with pages and pages of results… still with no definitive answer.
I believe that yoga is for everyone. Meaning, no matter your age, weight, gender, flexibility, injury, or disability, there is a practice out there that can benefit you. Now I’m not saying that there’s a single solution for everyone, but more that there is a solution for you, you just need to know what you’re looking for.
First, it’s important to know what Yoga is. Yoga is the restraint of the modifications of the mind stuff. Basically, the focusing of the mind. It’s not some crazy pose with your legs behind your head or a forearm balance, it’s the ability to clear your mind and focus. Which means, anyone can do it.
The most common styles you will find outside of London are Ashtanga, Hatha, Iyengar, Yin and Vinyasa Flow.
Ashtanga (aka. Ashtanga Vinyasa)
If you’re looking for a class to increase strength and flexibility, look no further. Ashtanga yoga will have you flowing from one pose to the next, connecting your breath with movements to generate heat, increase strength, and improve flexibility. In a traditional Ashtanga class you will flow through the same sequence every time, allowing you to get familiar with the practice and truly relax your mind.
This class is accessible for all levels, and is great for anyone looking for a physical challenge.
This class is a bit slower than an Ashtanga class, but will bring you back to the basics. Hatha yoga is considered a ‘gentle’ yoga. In this type of class you will move through poses, holding each of them for a few breaths and then moving on.
This class is great for beginners or for someone looking for something a little less strenuous.
Iyengar is all about alignment. Often times you will use props (blocks, bolsters, straps, ropes wall, etc.) to help you achieve perfect alignment, that is safe and within your range of motion. Poses are held for a period of time, before transitioning to the next.
This class is great for those recovering from injury, or want to improve their alignment. If you are recovering from an injury, always ask your doctor before going to a class.
If you’re looking for a class to relax and clear your head, I would suggest Yin. Although you probably won’t break a sweat, you will be holding poses for up to 5 minutes at a time. A Yin yoga class will challenge you to stay still, be calm, and go deeper. It is a very internal practice that you will learn to love.
This is more of a meditative practice, and is excellent for anyone who has a busy life – so basically everyone! Trust me, it’s hard, but the benefits of it are huge!
This class is rooted in Ashtanga and usually set to music. Your teacher will have you flowing through poses, elevating your heart rate and breaking a sweat to the beat.
This class is great for all those cardio junkies, runners, and HIIT lovers. It’s good for intermediate to advanced students (depending on the teacher).
I know there are loads of others that I didn’t mention, but leave me a comment below and I can share more about them if you’d like.
No matter what style of yoga you decide to follow, by practicing yoga you learn to let go of your ego and focus the mind, making you a better version of ourself. Remember, yoga is self-reflection practice and it doesn’t matter how you look compared to everyone else in the room.
Try lots of different types of yoga and different teachers until you work out what you like. It took me a few years to find a style of yoga that I really enjoy. I’ve tried lots of different styles all over the world, some I really liked and others I’m not a huge fan of. Personally I practice Ashtanga, Rocket, Mandala, Dharma, Forest, and Yin yoga.
Good luck, and keep going!
Practice and all is coming.
– Sri K. Pattabhi Jois