5 Steps for Picking a Yoga Class

You’ve heard all about the benefits of yoga.  You know it can provide flexibility, strength, stress relief and relaxation.  You are ready to try a class and see what it can do for you, but you are not sure which class to take.  The following steps will help you choose a class that is right for you, giving you the best chance for an enjoyable class.

Know what you want from yoga

Yoga offers a lot of benefits – physical, mental and spiritual.  Make sure you know what you really want, and also what you don’t want.  Are you looking to increase flexibility and strength with little concern for mental improvement?  Do you want an aerobic workout?  Does your mind need a rest more than your body needs a workout?  Does the philosophy of yoga turn you off?  Knowing what you want from your yoga practice is the most important step to ensuring you choose a class that is right for you.

Research local yoga studios

You can find yoga classes at many different places including dedicated studios, gyms and fitness centers, community centers and more.  Start with an internet search for ‘yoga classes [your city]’ to get a feel for your options.  Look through the websites of facilities in your area, keeping in mind step 1 – knowing what you want.  Dedicated studios are more likely to have classes that focus on the philosophy of yoga, including breathing and meditation in classes.  They are also more likely to offer the largest selection of classes.  Gyms and fitness centers often offer more fitness based classes, with a focus on the physical benefits.  Classes at YMCAs, community centers and other facilities are likely to more basic, catering to the general population who may not take regular classes.  Make sure to read the ‘About Us’ or  ‘Our Mission’ page to get an understanding of what the facility wants you to get from them.

Find a class with a description that suits you

After you have narrowed down the facility choices, read through each of the class descriptions.  Many studios offer in depth class descriptions with the style of class, length of class, ability level needed, inclusion of breathing or meditation and more.  Even short descriptions such as “Basic flow class suitable for all levels with a focus on flexibility” are helpful.  Remember what you want to get from class and focus on descriptions that meet those criteria.  Classes that say all levels or any ability level will usually start with basic postures and show modifications to make them more intense or difficult.  These classes are a great way to see how the physical aspect of yoga progresses and allows you to stretch your abilities slowly as you attend more classes.

Make sure it fits your schedule

This is often the step that is considered first when trying to decide on a yoga class.  Schedules are hectic and finding time for you can be difficult.  Being available for class is obviously important, but don’t sacrifice what you really want from your yoga class for the sake of timing.  Especially with the first few classes you attend, choosing schedule over substance could turn you off yoga entirely.  It is important to start with a class that meets your needs.  Allow yourself time to get to class without rushing or stressing.  If you show up flustered, it will impact your class negatively.  The first time you go to a studio or facility arrive 15 minutes early to sign up and get information about the facility.  You’ll want to know if they have any specific policies and where the restrooms and locker rooms (if any) are.  This will also give you a few minutes before class to relax and prepare.

Ask Around

This step can be done at any time during your search for a yoga class, but I suggest saving it for the end, using others experience and opinions as a confirmation of what you have found, or reason to rethink your decision.  Asking others too early can bias your search and cause you to exclude classes that would be great for you, because maybe they were not right for someone else.  When you do talk with others, make sure you understand what they are getting from their yoga practice and ask if the classes they recommend will help you get what you want from the class.

Remember, the key is to know what you want and find a class that can provide those things for you.  Even if you have tried yoga before or you practice one style regularly, these tips can help you discover new classes.

Good luck and Namaste!

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