You’ve found a rare chunk of time in your day and you think, “Awesome, perhaps I can finally get to a yoga class this afternoon.” You’ve been craving some movement in your body, a bit of stretching and strengthening, and—of course—the relaxation portion of a class. You check out a local studio and you’re flummoxed by the options. There’s slow yoga, hot yoga, Ashtanga yoga, flow yoga. There’s half-heat core yoga or hips-legs-and-more yoga.
With so many types of yoga, how do you know which class to choose?
Here are a few tips:
If you’re tired, stressed, and in need of relaxation, you generally want to look for a slower-paced class. Look for classes with titles like: restorative yoga, gentle yoga, a Hatha class for beginners or yoga for relaxation.
If you want to break a sweat, you’re craving a vigorous workout or a faster-paced class, look for descriptions like: vinyasa yoga, Ashtanga yoga, power yoga or vigorous flow yoga. You could also consider a hot yoga class, in which you’re guaranteed to break a sweat!
If you’re looking for a more spiritual or meditative class (which also works the body physically), you might try: Kundalini yoga, Kripalu yoga or Jivamukti yoga.
The best way to find out information about which class suits your current needs is to talk to someone at the studio. It's helpful to chat with a studio employee because they can explain the teaching style of certain instructors, as well as inform you of the instructor’s teaching experience. Be honest about your own yoga experience. It’s not a good idea to try an advanced class if your yoga practice consists of trying a few poses with your kindergartener after school one day.
In lieu of talking to someone at the studio, most studios have comprehensive websites that offer great descriptions of their classes and teachers.
No two yoga classes are the same. Two classes on the studio schedule with the same title (for example, Hatha I) might feel completely different once you’re in them. The only way to know if a class—and more specifically, a teacher—works for you is to try it out.
Even if you’re doing the exact same postures, each teacher has different movement cues and a different method of moving through a class. Some instructors teach with a strong anatomical focus and others approach their classes in a more spiritual style. Some teachers demonstrate many of the postures, and others prefer to cue with language and offer hands-on adjustments.
There are many types of yoga and a wide variety of instructors to try. If you go to a class that just doesn’t click with you, try another one. Often the teacher is just as—if not more—important as the label of the class itself.
“You’re worthless,” he told me.
Words hurled in the heat of an argument. Rationally, I knew that he was wrong, that these words from my high school boyfriend were said out of anger, arrows of hurt fuelled by his own teenage insecurities. Yet somewhere inside, I believed him a little. The words echoed in my mind, fueling my own self-doubt and affecting my self-image. These two words stuck with me for years, poisoning other romantic relationships until I finally let go of the stranglehold they had on me. But even now, so many years later, I cringe when I read or hear the word, “worthless.”
When I stumbled across the Weapon of Choice project, it gave me chills. It is a powerful representation of the power of words. Physical pain inflicted on our bodies is often visual, but emotional pain is far harder to see. This campaign gives us a clear image of how powerful our words can be, and how deeply we can be affected by them.
Many of us have these kinds of scars. People can often pinpoint the exact word or words that they have allowed themselves to be defined by. Sometimes we’re conscious of the effect, and sometimes the effect is a deeply ingrained belief about ourselves that we can’t even trace the roots of.
My seven-year-old daughter has been called some nasty names lately. I can't even write the words. She tells me and my husband about these insults and asks, "Why me?" We talk about the reasons why people say mean things to other people, and that it says far more about them than it does about her. At this age, she is beautifully confident in her body, she loves school, and is enthusiastic about pretty much everything. But will these words pierce that confidence? Will it be eroded by words or by labels that other people place on her?
It is so easy to throw words around, without thinking about their impact. Since becoming a parent, I am far more aware of how flippantly words are used. My husband and I talk about the the language we choose, the way we talk to each other, to the kids, and how we discuss difficult situations. We are also conscious of the way we talk about other people. But we can’t control the way others use their words. We can't shelter our kids, but we can encourage them to know that their own worth is defined by them, and to understand the power of their own voices.
All my husband and I can do as parents is reinforce the idea that saying hurtful things is just as harmful as throwing a punch, that words can be poisonous when used the wrong way, and—as my mum and my granny used to tell me—“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
Photos used with permission from the Hurt Words Project.