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What is the Best Yoga for Me?

A woman is sitting on a yoga mat with her hands on her knees, practicing the best yoga poses for me.

Choosing the best yoga class

Stepping into the yoga world can be overwhelming, and it can be difficult to know where to start because there are so many styles from which to choose. 

There are two approaches to finding your way to the “right” yoga class.

You can choose a class based on what you know about yourself and what you like. For example, as an introvert who is reserved, you may begin with a restorative class to dip your toe into the world of yoga. This will help you begin to get comfortable with a yoga practice to build the confidence you need to try different styles later on. 

The second approach requires you to ask yourself why you are seeking yoga in the first place. Define what you want from a practice not by looking at who you are but by considering what you need. For example, athletes aren’t likely to need more exercise, but they could benefit from slow, intentional stretching. A person who sits at a desk all day may gravitate toward a seated meditation class but would benefit more from a class that elevates their heart rate and gets their blood flowing.

In this blog, we will discuss the different types of yoga so that you can find a practice that optimizes your health, whether that is for your body, mind, or soul.  

The Benefits of Yoga and the Various Types of Practices

Yoga connects the body and the breath, bringing a person into the present moment, and it’s much more than just a physical practice, also known as an asana. However, it’s often considered a physical practice at a yoga studio, and that’s a great place to start.

Finding a balance in your life so that yoga fits into your world is ideal. However, finding what will get you to the mat is critical in the beginning because staying in your practice will eventually give you what you need. 

So down to brass tacks: what kind do you choose, want, or need, and what do the classes consist of? Let’s run through the benefits of each style of yoga.

VINYASA – This class will move with your breath and have a pretty steady pace. Expect sun salutations where you are both on the floor and standing frequently. This class type is prevalent and ranges from slow and easy to fast and intense. This is a great beginner’s yoga class for someone who is in shape but needs a good mental buffer from the quiet. 

ASHTANGA – This practice is intense and robust and is for the disciplined practitioner who has work in their veins. It is a set practice with many levels and a diverse group of poses held for five breaths or more. If you are yearning for a deep introspective approach, you need look no further. 

HATHA – This type of practice is calm and includes static poses held for long periods. This is probably the kind of class you need if you have a very busy mind, but it will also be the most challenging to attend. 

IYENGAR – This type of class is all about finding the proper alignment and, therefore, the use of props is more acceptable. This practice does not require as much cardiovascular work as a more traditional flow, and most poses are held to find the correct posture. This type of class would be most suitable for someone who wants to build strength and flexibility. 

RESTORATIVE – This class type is more meditative and reflective. It is a slow practice that comes from Iyengar, and the intention is deep rest. 

YIN – This class style is similar to restorative, but the poses are not held as long, and the intention is to calm and cool the body. You may think of it as an inward practice.  

A few more tips on choosing the most suitable class for you

When seeking out these classes in a public setting, also read the instructor’s take on them. Look for words in the course description that either draw you in or make you flee. For example, power means fast-paced, slow may be for beginners, and strong may mean extra poses to make you sweat. 

Remember to try all kinds of classes – you may want one type of class, but you may find you need something altogether different. 

The most valuable part of yoga is whatever gets you back to your mat to practice again. It can be the endorphins from the physical work, the mental break you got from your day, or the increased oxygen that gives you energy from focused breathing. Whatever it is for you, it most likely will change over time. 

My Yoga Journey

I could list all of the benefits of yoga, but the truth is that your practice will unravel what you need as you dive in. When I began almost 13 years ago, my body had a deep desire to WORK. O wanted to work my body into the ground, to sweat and feel powerful in the ability to manipulate my body. Day in and day out, my 25-year-old self found a path to the inside, even through the vanity of an intense, strong practice. I look back at her often – she is proving something to herself, and the practice is healing her. Today, I know that is not what I need, and it certainly isn’t what my body craves any longer. Today, it is the stillness of the mind that I seek and grasp at to stay present and enjoy this moment. 

This 3000-year-old practice will create space within you to be here, to be now. Will you join me?