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Find your Zen—Common Types of Yoga and Tips for your First Class

Posted by Caroline Hoffman, MS, RD, CDE on Nov 10, 2017 1:07:00 PM

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Yoga comes from a Sanskrit word often interpreted as “union.”  While it involves eight “limbs” or aspects, most people practicing today are engaged mainly in the physical practice of postures which act to provide physical strength and stamina required for meditation.  But, within this physical practice, yoga is unique in connecting movement and activity of the mind to the rhythm of the breath to direct attention inward.  The body becomes more flexible as does the mind. 

Looking to try yoga but unsure where to begin?  No special flexibility or ability is required as there are so many types and levels of yoga available.  I’ve outlined some of the more common types you may encounter so you can choose the type you may want to pursue. Do not be afraid to speak to the yoga studio ahead of time to find a level and style of class that works best for you.

Ashtanga

  • Emphasis on the breath guiding movement.
  • May involve a set series of poses that progress as the practice deepens.
  • This type of yoga can be demanding so may not be best for the beginner.


Bikram

  • The original “hot yoga.”
  • A defined series of 26 poses done in a heated environment.
  • Not indicated for those with high blood pressure and other conditions so research first.


Iyengar

  • A method that focuses on precise alignment in the poses to prevent injury and free up bodily energy.


Kundalini

  • Combines energy locks, chanting, and postures in sets to release energy flow.

 

Restorative

  • Uses props to aid in relaxation and stimulating the body’s parasympathetic system.
  • While not physically demanding, great for relaxation and calming the mind and body.


Vinyasa

  • A dance-like flow of poses from one to another, linking breath and movement.

 

Yin

  • Long deep holds of poses target the connective tissue and open energy channels.


Once you decide which type of yoga will work best for your lifestyle, here are some tips for your first class:

  • Wear comfortable, moveable, breathable clothing.
  • No special shoes are required, you will be barefoot.
  • Most studios will have mats for you to use. Wait to buy one of your own until you see if you like yoga and what type of mat you would like.
  • Try not to eat 2 hours before class as yoga involves many forward and back bends and twists that will be easier if you have fully digested you last meal.
  • As with all exercise, check with your doctor before you start.
  • Disclose any injuries or medical conditions to the teacher. This will allow them to help you modify poses and keep you safe.
  • Have fun! Yoga is a place of non-judgement and beginners are always welcome!

 

In good health,
Caroline

Topics: Health and Wellness