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.