Yoga is ever popular in western culture, so it’s no surprise that many people create a New Year’s resolution to begin practicing yoga. What many people don’t know is that there are a variety of yoga styles out there, and you need to know what you’re looking for so that you can choose the style that resonates with you and will allow you to stick to your resolution.
The first question you need to ask yourself is, “Why do I want to start practicing yoga?” Is it to:
- Manage stress?
- Lose weight and/or tone up?
- Overcome an injury or health issue?
- Become more spiritual?
- All of the above?
The answer is important, as it will be what helps guide you to the right style for you. The below image in this article is a great resource for helping you to find the right style. For example, if your main goal is to lose weight, then the styles showing in the Vigorous Flow section would be good ones to start with (i.e., Power Yoga, Vinyasa, Ashtanga). If you’re looking for a style of yoga that will help you heal from an injury or health issue, then the styles in the Healing Yoga section would be great to check out (i.e., Vini Yoga, Integrative Yoga Therapy, Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy). You get the idea.
Photo Courtesy of http://charmedyoga.com/2012/04/19/9-awesome-yoga-infographics/
Once you’ve decided on a style or two to try out, start looking for a teacher or studio in your area that offers these classes. A great place to start looking for a teacher is the Yoga Alliance Web site. Just go to http://www.yogaalliance.org/ya/d/ya/d/Directory.aspx to search their directory for a teacher or school. The great thing about this site is that you can search not only by location, but also by the style of yoga you’re looking for. Keep in mind that many teachers blend several styles together, and when they do, they generally label their style as “hatha”. Hatha simply means a physical yoga practice, so it’s important that you check with the teacher to find out how physical the practice they teach actually is.
If you live in an area that doesn’t have a dedicated yoga studio, then check out your local fitness or recreation center. Many now offer yoga classes, but generally don’t label them as anything other than “yoga”. So if you’re thinking of joining a gym just for the yoga class, make sure to find out what style is actually taught.
If you’re just not able to attend a class with a “live” teacher for whatever reason (not enough money, not comfortable exercising with others, etc.), then you may need some other options:
- A great Web site to get DVDs for cheap is http://www.half.com. You may want to Google first, to make sure you’ve got an idea about what videos are out there for the style you’re looking for.
- If you are interested in variety, a great Web site is http://www.YogaGlo.com. For a small monthly fee of $18, you will have unlimited access to all their videos, and you can search for videos by style, by teacher, by length of time, and by level (i.e., beginner, intermediate, advanced).
- Once you’re comfortable with the basics, there are also a variety of Podcasts available for free. Most podcasts are audio only, however, so you definitely need to be comfortable with the names of the poses, so you know what to do.
Once you’ve decided on a style and begin your yoga journey, to be successful and stick with it, remember the following:
- Check with your doctor, especially if you’re recovering from an injury or illness, for any contraindications. It’s important to know what types of movements you are restricted from doing.
- If your initial choice leaves you unsatisfied, don’t give up. It could be that the teacher is not the right fit for you, the class is too advanced for your current level of fitness, or some other reason.
- Check in with yourself on a regular basis and ask yourself again why you’re practicing yoga. As time goes by and your practice progresses, you may find your initial reasons for beginning a practice and what you’re now looking for are very different. That is part of the journey, so go with it…try something new, if that’s what your mind and body are craving.
There truly is a style of yoga for every body, so enjoy the journey in finding the style meant for you. You won’t regret the choice, as the rewards you will reap are many.