How to Pick a Yoga Class

Picking a yoga class
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For those of us living in big cities, we are surrounded by countless workout options. There are multiple basic gyms to choose from and specialized studios that focus on classes for kickboxing, spinning, pilates, or barre. Over the years I’ve tried almost all the options and I always go back to yoga. It’s both a relaxing way to end a stressful work day and a great workout. However, walking into a yoga studio for the first time can be intimidating. There are usually many different class options with names that may or may not tell you anything straightforward about what they might entail. For those of you looking to start a yoga practice, here’s the quick reference guide to help you pick out the right class.

1. Hatha Yoga: This is a great style for beginners and those looking to relieve stress. Hatha classes are generally calm and meditative with an emphasis on basic poses.

2. Vinyasa Yoga: Vinyasa yoga concentrates on linking the breath to a series of continually moving postures. Students are guided through sun salutations in the first part of class that will lead into stretches held for longer periods of time. This is a more demanding class than Hatha and is great for building strength.

3. Power Yoga: Power yoga is the contemporary interpretation of yoga. It’s a very physically demanding class that flows from one pose to the next at a rapid pace. You’ll get an aerobic workout and build muscle
in a Power yoga class but make sure you’re up for the challenge!

4. Ashtanga Yoga: Ashtanga is Power yoga’s more traditional cousin. It’s also a physically demanding practice that flows quickly from pose to pose. The primary difference between the two styles of yoga is that
Ashtanga is rooted in classic yoga poses whereas Power yoga has a little more leeway in its execution.

5. Bikram Yoga:
Bikram yoga is done in a series of 26 poses. It’s an hour long class in a 95-100 degree room that helps heat up the muscles and encourages detoxification and lengthening of the muscles. This is
not for the faint of heart! Make sure you drink A LOT of water prior the the class and after.

6. Restorative Yoga:
Restorative yoga is not necessarily a conventional workout but it can be wonderfully relaxing. You’ll use blocks, bolsters, and blankets to go into poses that are held from 3-5 minutes. Muscles are stretched out as the body relaxes into the poses. It’s a passive workout but will leave you feeling calm and centered.

Though there are many other styles of yoga out there, these are the styles I’ve seen offered most often in the Washington, DC area and I will safely assume most other major metropolitan areas have similar offerings. With our busy schedules and demanding jobs these days, you should definitely check out one or more styles of yoga. It’ll help bring a calming presence to your crazy day!


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