Finding a Yoga Class That's Right for You

Now that yoga has become more popular, it's easy to find all kinds of classes, and not just in studios devoted exclusively to the practice. They're also offered in dance studios, gyms, health clubs, community centers and senior centers.

What's important is to find the right yoga style for you and a teacher you like. Be aware that you really can't know what a class is like until you attend it. Even when two teachers use the same names to describe their classes, the classes may be quite different.

Types of yoga

Depending on your interest, you may be most comfortable in one of the following yoga classes. If you haven't been exercising regularly, be sure to check with your doctor before beginning any yoga or other exercise program.

Hatha Yoga

This form of yoga, the most popular in the United States, involves physical postures (asanas) and breathing techniques (pranayama). These two practices form the bulk of Hatha yoga -- the yoga of force -- which emphasizes strengthening and purifying the body.

Iyengar Yoga

This style of yoga concentrates on alignment and is fluid and dance like. It uses props such as wooden blocks, straps, chairs, bolsters and blankets to help students achieve postures they otherwise could not assume.

Ashtanga Yoga

This kind of yoga is sometimes called Ashtanga Vinyasa or Power Yoga. It is is intense, designed  to build endurance and strength Participants perform a series of postures in one continuous, flowing movement. The motions are linked with breathing patterns.

One element that distinguishes this form of yoga from many others is that it is done in a very hot room.

Bikram Yoga

Bikram Yoga, like Ashtanga, is done in a hot room. It also involves a set sequence of postures that are usually practiced twice per session. Standing and balance poses come first, followed by back bends, forward bends and twisting postures.

Restorative Yoga

Restorative Yoga is different from other practices because it eliminates the active postures, instead focusing on the relaxation part of yoga.

Kripalu Yoga

This type of yoga is attractive to people who want a gentler, slower-moving style of yoga -- something between restorative yoga and the more vigorous forms.


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