It seems that everyday there is a new style of yoga being created and a new yoga studio opening on every corner, which makes choosing one that's right for you feel a bit daunting. Whether you are new to yoga or looking for a new place to practice there are several things to consider:
1. Teachers: You want to make sure that the teachers are experienced and qualified. Both the studio and teachers should be Yoga Alliance certified. Selecting a yoga teacher is a very personal choice. You want a teacher that you trust, have a rapport with and find inspiring. A teacher that is right for your best friend or even a teacher who is a "Yoga Star" may not be the best choice for you. Take a drop in class with different teachers before you buy a class card. If you don't click with a particular teacher try a couple others before making your decision. There are usually promotions for new students at most studios.
2. Style: What style of yoga does the studio offer? What style of yoga classes are you interested in learning? Are the classes very fast paced and athletic or slower and more restorative. Are you looking for a serious sweat and a hardcore workout or are you looking for a more meditative experience? Do you like moving through the poses or holding them and focusing on perfecting your alignment? Are you attracted to a style of yoga that emphasizes breathing practices? There are classes that focus more on the physical practice of yoga and others that focus more on the spiritual. The later might include chanting and yoga philosophy. What level of spirituality are you comfortable with? At the end of this blog I have included brief descriptions of some popular styles of yoga to help you make an informed decision.
3. Location: Let's face it if you choose a yoga studio that is not convenient to your home or work, the trouble it takes to get there might become an excuse not to go. Make sure you choose a studio that is within walking distance or very close by car, bus or subway.
4. Class Schedule: Make sure the studio has classes that work with your schedule. Do you prefer morning classes, evening or a quick hour class at lunchtime? It's nice to have many options in case for instance, you can't make your regular morning class and want to take one later in the day.
5. Level: You want to make sure the studio offers classes for your level. Sometimes an "open" class can be too challenging or not challenging enough. I have attended beginner classes that felt more like an intermediate class. There are no industry standards for this, so ask your teacher or the front desk what the different levels mean. It is best to start at a level that you are comfortable with and then when you feel ready you can progress to the next.
6. Atmosphere: This is a big one for me. Listen to your instincts and your first impression. It's great to practice in a nice, ambient environment, one that's makes you feel at peace just walking in the door. Do you feel comfortable in the space? Has it been decorated with care and creativity? Is it clean? Are the mats and props cleaned regularly? (In general I think it's always safer to use your own mat.) Are the staff, teachers and students friendly and respectful? Do they play music? Do you enjoy practicing to the style of music played during class? Some people enjoy practicing to music and others don't. Make sure you are comfortable with the temperature. I love a entering a yoga studio and feeling like I have entered a sanctuary and knowing that the next hour or two will feel like a mini-retreat.
7. How to find yoga classes in your area: You can look in the yellow pages, you can ask friends and colleagues for a referral or do a search on line. Yoga-finder, Yoga Alliance and Yoga Journal are all good references. Make sure the school as well as the teachers are Yoga Alliance certified and that they are insured.
Some Popular Styles of Yoga include:
• Iyengar-Postures are typically held much longer than in other schools of yoga, so that practitioners can pay close attention to precise muscular and skeletal alignment.
• Vinyasa-combines a series of flowing postures with rhythmic breathing for an intense body-mind workout.
• Ashtanga- A style of Vinyasa yoga which involves a fast- paced series of sequential postures. Very challenging.
• Bikram-Each studio is designed to replicate yoga's birthplace climate, with temperatures pushing 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This is to help remove toxins from the body. It includes 26 sequenced postures.
• Power-Gives a western spin to Ashtanga yoga, a challenging and disciplined series of poses designed to create heat and energy flow.
• Jivamukti-A highly meditative but physically challenging form of yoga. With an Astanga background it includes chanting, breathing practices, philosophy, meditation and vinyasa-style asanas.
• Viniyoga-This is a gentle practice. Poses are synchronized with the breath in sequences determined by the needs of the practitioner.
• Sivananda- Hatha yoga practice emphasizing 12 basic postures. Chanting, philosophy, breathing practices, and meditation are included
• Integral- It includes a gentle asana practice, guided relaxation, breathing practices, chanting and silent meditation.
• Kundalini- It incorporates postures, dynamic breathing techniques, chanting and meditation.
• Anusara-A new system of Hatha yoga. It is spiritually inspiring and yet grounded in a deep knowledge of outer and inner body alignment.
References: Yoga Journal
Published On: May 12, 2010