As a yoga teacher I often get asked, ‘what type of yoga should I be doing?’
Of course the answer to this question depends on your needs, goals and level of fitness. Many of us want quick fast and easy results, but the great thing about yoga is that you can do it for the rest of your life. It is not an extreme sport, although it can look that way in certain classes! You need to find the right class for you.
Here are four questions to ask:
- Is it safe for me? fast, difficult or hot is not necessarily better
- Do I feel better afterwords? (maybe not during :))
- Do I feel seen and accepted in the class?
- Is it convenient and easy for me to get to?
Lets look at these four criteria. Even if you are young and in great shape, yoga can be hard! Look for a introductory or beginner class or workshop to learn the postures and the proper breathing and alignment. Pushing yourself past your limits happens to often in large classes where things are moving quickly and everyone around you seems to be doing the poses so effortlessly. Beginners often watch the people around them more than they listen to what their own body is telling them. And although hot yoga can be great, remember your muscles will seem to be much more flexible than normal when heated up.
When you start yoga even sitting on the floor will seem difficult. Touching your toes can seem impossible and you might feel muscles you did not know you had. Keeping in mind slow and steady wins the race, do you feel better afterword? Notice if your back feels more free, if you feel a sense of calm. Yoga should be effective.
If you are uncomfortable with how the teacher speaks to you or touches you, if you find yourself feeling judged for not being as proficient as the other students, if you are not given modifications for poses you can not do, then you may be in the wrong yoga class. Keep looking! Ask people you trust for recommendations. You will find a class that will bring you more than flexibility, you may find new friends, and you should feel more confident not less when you leave yoga class.
Finally, the right time and the right place makes yoga a no-brainer to get to. Build it into your schedule, there are yoga studios everywhere and many community associations have yoga classes. If you have a workplace that is conducive to it, get some co-workers together and bring in a teacher at noon or before work. I have taught in places that we moved tables and chairs and the board room doubled as a yoga space.
A yoga practice should honor your unique body and make you feel good physically, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually.