Find the Perfect Yoga Class For You
Looking to start or evolve your practice? Here’s a handy guide
Starting something new can seem impossibly challenging – so we’ve put together this guide to help you navigate the best class (or classes) for your needs, goals and intentions. Do you want something more energizing to kick-start your morning, or are you looking to mellow out at the end of a busy day? Are you curious about meditation, looking to heal from an injury or just want to be able to touch your toes?
Whatever your reason for being called to a yoga practice, let this guide help you outline the important questions to consider when choosing a class, as well as what to do to prepare for your new practice.
Let’s start with the basics
What is yoga?
Yoga is a spiritual and physical mind-body science that originated in India over 15,000 years ago. The word yoga means “to yoke” and invites us to seek union through our body, mind, and spirit. Yoga is a dynamic practice that combines breath-work, flexibility and strength to create a balanced routine that will help you achieve your personal fitness and health goals. It combines holding physical postures (called asana) with breathing and meditation to improve physical wellbeing and mindfulness.
Is yoga right for me?
Yoga is for everyone – young, old, fitness junkies, spiritual seekers and newbies alike. But there are so many classes to choose from, your head may be spinning. If you’re looking at a list of classes trying to find the right one for you (and feeling a bit overwhelmed), you’re not alone.
The world of yoga offers a ton of foreign vocabulary and there’s so much out there to choose from. What do all those fancy terms even mean!? Do some of the poses look intimidating? Have you ever felt like you’re not flexible enough to do yoga? (Spoiler alert – you totally are!)
What are the benefits of yoga?
+ boosts immunity
+ eases symptoms of anxiety, depression, insomnia and chronic fatigue
+ stress relief - helps lower cortisol levels and reduce physical effects of stress on the body
+ improves sleep and digestion
+ lowers blood pressure and heart rate
+ increases strength and flexibility
What are some of the different styles of yoga?
The basis of all asana is called Hatha yoga. The word Hatha translates to “the sun and the moon”, which reflects the balance yoga seeks to incorporate in our lives. Hatha yoga is a great place to start for beginners because the postures are static and held for longer periods of time. Another popular type of yoga is called vinyasa. Vinyasa means “to move with the breath.” Vinyasa classes are often powerful and more cardiovascular-designed to make you sweat! They are also often called “flow” style classes. But if you’re looking to decompress, these fast-paced classes may not be the best option.
For those who need to take a chill pill, you can slow down with classes that get you deep into juicy, relaxing postures for longer periods of time – such as a restorative or yin yoga class. Perhaps you just want to sit in stillness during a meditation only class and do a focused exploration into the healing power of breath work for cultivating a sense of peace and calm. Maybe you are looking to increase your flexibility and strength. Whatever it may be – there is a class for you!
How to Find the right class
There are several important factors that go into choosing a yoga class, and it could change day-to-day, as your needs change. Not every class will be right for everybody. Take the time to explore different styles and different instructors. You will find that certain classes strongly resonate with you, and others not so much – and that’s okay. Here are some things to consider:
Why do you want to practice yoga?
Ask yourself this question when you are first looking at which class is best for you. Are you seeking a spiritually uplifting experience or something that will give you a good workout? Do you want to bliss out in relaxing stretches, or help heal a nagging injury? All of these are important factors. Remember to be true to your needs and to check-in with yourself regularly to see how your needs may change.
If you’re looking to get a workout and a “work-in”
A movement-based class is sure to get your heart rate up and your skin sweating. More vigorous classes, that require more energy output and a quicker pace, are what you need to look for. Classes such as Vinyasa, Power Vinyasa, and Power Flow are all great places to start. These classes will also provide a nice amount of meditation sprinkled into the sweating, sure to make you feel good from the inside out, too.
If you are looking to relax from the inside-out
Sometimes we need to give our minds a break but we still want to move our bodies without building too much of a sweat. If we want to nurture ourselves and give our bodies a little TLC, slower paced classes that are less energizing with a healthy dose of feel-good meditation will be a great fit. Classes such as yin or slow flow are going to be the perfect medicine for your mind and body. Or, treat yourself with a MELT for yoga class, which is therapeutic body rolling designed to target stiff and sore areas.
If you want to align and refine
Our bodies are our instruments and tools, so learning good alignment will keep them healthy and happy for longer. These types of classes are fundamental to knowing how postures should feel in your body while also building a meditation practice. Classes such as Hatha or Yoga Foundations are essential to learning not only the basics but also advancing more complex postures safely. They are slower-paced classes, which means less sweat, as the poses will be broken down into more details. Yoga Therapy, while slightly more energetic, is also an effective way to use yoga as therapeutic rehabilitation from injuries and more. Great for beginners and experienced practitioners alike.
If you want to sculpt and tone
There are also options if you want to create long, lean muscles without losing your flexibility. You can increase your muscle definition without the excess bulk through intense and rigorous classes such as Pilates, PiYo (Pilates and yoga), and Root’s own Better Body and Balance. Less on the meditation side and more on the physically demanding side; be prepared to connect with your body in a big way, build core strength, and feel the burn.
If you’re looking to connect deeper to yourself
Look no further than meditation or Tai Chi to learn to calm your monkey-mind and gain insight into your being. While meditation will be performed in stillness, Tai Chi is a movement-based workout that encourages inner stillness and heightens awareness of your body’s subtle energies. Both are great for centering and self-contemplation.