Beginner Yogi Guide

By Abigail Campbell

Carrying colorful mats, wearing stretchy apparel, and having exceptional breathing skills are not all activities limited to the everyday yogi. While yoga can be quite intimidating to newcomers, it is an exercise that has something to offer people of all different shapes and sizes. There are several different types of yoga that can be explored in order to find which one best fits your lifestyle. Finding the right way to fit yoga into your life will have your mind and body saying “namaste” in no time.

Practicing yoga can yield endless and amazing results for your overall health. According to the Yoga Health Foundation, yoga can help with chronic back pain, depression, diabetes, stress, obesity, heart disease, asthma, cancer, and of course, relaxation.

Suzanne Powell, a yoga instructor in northern Virginia, urges everyone to give yoga a try.

“I would say if you are the least bit interested in yoga – try it! Not many sports can be practiced throughout your entire life. Any person, any size, any age can practice yoga,” said Powell.

Powell also gives five useful tips for any yoga beginners:

1. Find a studio close to home or work so it is easy to get there.

2. Check out the studio’s website to be sure the teachers are certified at a minimum on the 200 hour level.

3. Find a Level 1, slow flow or beginner class. Often times, studios offer beginner workshops and discount passes or free class for newcomers.

4. Arrive at your first class at least 20 to 30 minutes early. This will give you time to meet the instructor, fill out paperwork and find a spot. Tell the instructor you are new so she can offer advice about where to position your mat in class as well as what to expect.

5. Don’t give up after your first class. Try it for at least a week. People respond differently to various teachers and styles of yoga, so give yourself a chance to explore.

So now that we know how to get started in the yoga world, what can we expect once we get there? There is much more to yoga than stretching, breathing, and meditating. In fact, there are several different types of yoga that focus on different areas. When looking for the right yoga class for you, you must first know what the basic varieties of practice.

For starters, here are five basic types:

Hatha yoga refers to a series of different postures that are designed to align and balance different portions of your body all while bringing your attention to your breathing.

Vinyasa yoga is the continuing flow from one posture to another all while synchronizing your breath. This type of yoga adds a lot of variety and movement.

Ashtanga yoga is a more vigorous, flow type of yoga. “Ashtanga yoga is a set series of postures practiced progressively. You begin with the primary series, then intermediate followed by third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh,” said Powell. “You can really see your progress as you are practicing the same set of postures each time. One day you might not be able to touch your hands together in a pose, the next day you can.”

Iyengar yoga is a type of yoga that uses props such as blocks and blankets to concentrate on very precise alignment in certain areas of your body. “Iyengar yoga emphasizes detail and alignment in the posture. If you took an Iyengar class you would hear a lot of cues on alignment (stack your joints, knee in line with ankle, etc.)” said Powell.

Bikram, or “hot yoga” is practiced in a 95 to 105 degree room. “Bikram is similar to Ashtanga in that it is a set series of poses. 90 minutes, 105 degrees, 26 postures. Most people love it or hate it. Again, very challenging and you have to really like to sweat,” said Powell.

Yoga is beneficial and enjoyable whether you prefer fast-paced classes or very precise and concentrated classes. You just have to try out many types to find your favorite.

“I started practicing in 2008 after a life threatening illness. I was unhealthy, out of shape and very depressed. Yoga healed me inside and out. It changed my life – truly,” said Powell.

There must be something behind this yoga bug that everyone seems to be catching, so grab your best yoga pants (that you’ve never actually worn to yoga) and head to the nearest studio.

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Categories: Your Fitness

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