Is Yoga on your New Year’s Resolution list?

If practicing Yoga is on your New Year’s Resolutions List, be sure to choose a Yoga class that’s right for you. Here’s how to sort the wheat from the chaff and find the class that’s right for you…

4 Steps to finding the Yoga class that’s right for you: 

1. Identify what it is you seek in Yoga

People initially come to Yoga seeking something. Sometimes that something is very specific. It might be a particular lineage of Yoga, such as Hatha Yoga, Iyengar Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga. It might be what they think of as a more meditative practice, easy on the body gentle on the mind. Or it could be a Yoga practice that is challenging, both physically and mentally. Sometimes people are not quite sure what that ‘something’ is exactly, but they’ve heard enough about Yoga to know Yoga offers stress relief and are ready to give it try. Are you ready to try Yoga or looking for a Yoga class that’s right for you?  

To begin, consider what it is you think you are looking for in Yoga. Is it physical fitness, injury management/rehabilitation, stress relief, meditation, or spiritual awareness? It may be just one or even all of these things. Once you have identified what it is you seek you will know what to look for when researching descriptions of Yoga classes in your area and be in a good position to make an informed start. The next step is to find a Yoga class that will address your initial search most directly.

2. Choose a Yoga class that’s right for you 

Yoga can mean different things to different people. The beauty of Yoga is that its true meaning is captured within the word itself.  The root of Yoga, ‘yog’, means to unify and that overused catchphrase ‘Mind, Body and Spirit’ really is the essence of Yoga. Yoga offers a practice that brings together the Intellectual Self with the Physical Self as the key to finding the quietness of the True Self within. Think for a moment about the implication of unifying mind, body and spirit in relation to your outlook on life.  

How ever a Yoga class is branded, be it Iyengar Yoga, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Bikram, Hot Yoga or Hatha, it might come as a surprise to learn all traditionally based Yoga systems that embrace Asana (the physical postures of yoga) are in essence Hatha Yoga. This is acknowledged by all the great Yoga Gurus (Guru means teacher) of our time including BKS Iyengar, Sri K Pattabhi Jois and TKV Desikachar. Every legitimate lineage of modern day Yoga traces back to these three Hatha Gurus and their teacher Krishnamacharya. From Krishnamacharya the Yoga path traces back much further to the Yoga Sutra’s of Patanjali, teachings many thousands of years old and as relevant today as ever before.  

There seem to be so many styles of Yoga now, old and new. Why is this so? Perhaps the answer to that question has more to do with commercialism than Yoga. Regardless, the path to finding what you seek on the Yoga path is to know what you are looking for and then simply to try a variety of Yoga classes until you find a Yoga ‘style’ that resonates with you initially. Whether it is a quiet meditative relaxing Yoga class, a dynamic vinyasa Yoga class, a hot Yoga class or a Yoga class with a deeply contemplative postural alignment focus, try different Yoga classes that offer variation on what you have decided to look for in Yoga and get a feel for each. Find a class that resonates with you and remember you can always refine that choice later.

3. Choose a ‘style’ of Yoga that works for you now

The following is offered as a guideline rather than absolute definitions of the major yYoga styles:

Ashtanga Yoga – Hatha Yoga that focuses heavily on the physical practice of Yoga postures as a discipline to prepare the student for the spiritual journey of the yoga path. Seek Ashtanga classes that have an established teaching lineage to Mysore with certified teachers.

Bikram Yoga – a physical based yoga practice performed in a heated room following a set sequence of yoga postures. Seek a registered Bikram studio, take a towel, bottle or water and some deodorant.

Hatha Yoga – classes generally presented as Hatha Yoga in Australia tend to favour a gentle approach to the physical practice of postures (Asana) and often combine Yoga with New Age spiritual concepts. Seek Hatha classes that balance the Yoga Asana with the essential components of breath awareness and focused quietening of mind. It is a good idea to try more than one Yoga centre or Yoga studio to find a class that is right for you. Hatha Yoga classes can vary greatly given the plethora of low entry barrier yoga teacher training courses now available, some offering certified training in as little as four weeks.  Look for a certified and experienced teacher. 

Hot Yoga – similar to Bikram Yoga without the Bikram trademark. Seek a qualified and experienced teacher. Remember the towel and water bottle.

Iyengar Yoga –Iyengar Yoga, founded on Hatha Yoga by BKS Iyengar, develops self awareness through an ever deepening focus of postural alignment within the Asana (physical postures of yoga). Iyengar yoga can be a challenging practice that requires persistence. The rewards of Iyengar Yoga – supple body, somatic intelligence, quiet mind, and open heart – lie within the dedicated practice of the student. Seek a certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher.

Vinyasa Yoga – Hatha Yoga that prioritises the dynamic sequencing of Yoga postures.  The word vinyasa simply means flowing movement between poses in Yoga governed by regulated breathing. Vinyasa is often used more as a descriptive marketing term for Yoga classes rather than as a reflection of a specific Yoga lineage. Seek a certified and experienced teacher.  

Learn Yoga in Newport with us. Understand what Iyengar Yoga is and how it influences our teaching methodology