Yoga as a new discipline can be intimidating and can provoke some questions. Do you need to be fit before you actually start practicing yoga? What type of yoga is best for me? Will it increase my fitness?
The answers are yes, but it depends which style of yoga you choose to practice. As with any new activity, just start out going at your own pace and steer clear of any complicated handstand yoga workshops until you've been practicing for a while.
Yoga originated in India over 5,000 years ago. Traditionally it was used as a way to encourage spiritual growth through the transcendence of the ego. Today these elements are still a big part of modern yoga practice.
What are the different types of yoga?
There are dozens of different types of yoga classes out there. Don't worry if you don't like your first yoga class, try a few more. Every yoga class is different and teachers will vary hugely.
Beginners tend to experience their first yoga class through yoga videos online. It's a great way to give yoga a go without practicing for the first time in a room full of people. We are big fans of Yoga With Adriene's beginner yoga videos. There are lots of yoga videos specialising in things like yoga poses for tight hips and yoga poses for back pain.
However, if you really want to build your yoga practice, it is best to go to a real class with an instructor.
If you have never practiced yoga before, it's a good idea to start by going to a Hatha yoga class. Hatha is really an umbrella term for all types of physical yoga, but a modern Hatha yoga class will teach you the basics in a slow, methodical way. It is especially good if you have an injury or feel particularly inflexible.
Iyengar Yoga is a slow pace yoga practice which concentrates on holding poses for longer and controlling your breathing.
If you are after a more fast paced session, then Vinyasa Flow would be a good class to try. It has a quick, flowing style that concentrates on the fluid transition between poses and is excellent for toning muscles.
For a more intense yoga practice, try Bikram yoga. It is also fast paced but practiced in a 40°C hot room.
What are the Benefits of Yoga?
As yoga concentrates on mental control and focused breathing to increase intensity and longevity of poses, it has been knows to help with problems such as anxiety and depression.
The combination of concentration on both mind and body make yoga an attractive choice for anyone who is eager for both muscle toning and a more relaxed, centred frame of mind. This sort of mental discipline and consequent emotional benefit can also be found in other practices such as scuba-diving and surfing.
If you want to deepen your practice and learn more about the benefits and history of yoga, read one of these excellent yoga books.
Where can I Practice yoga?
Yoga classes can be found all over the country - whether it is in a yoga studio or a church hall. Head to your local shopping centre or town hall and look for the community notice board. You will probably find posters for local yoga classes there.
Like we mentioned earlier, don't worry if you don't enjoy your first yoga class. There are so many different styles of yoga to choose from and it really will depend on whether you like the yoga teacher or not.
If you want to find a well-established yoga studio near you, try searching through Yoga Village UK. They list local classes and workshops near you.
If you are based in London, it's not hard to find a good yoga studio. There are a wide array and you will be able to find one that reflects how you are aiming to benefit from yoga. Popular London yoga studios include Triyoga, Iyengar Yoga Institute and East of Eden in Walthamstow.
What yoga gear do i need?
Heading to your first yoga class? You will need some new yoga gear. Starting with clothing, you need to wear clothes that are loose and comfortable. Women tend to wear a fitted yoga top (similar to a workout top), a yoga bra plus leggings or yoga pants. Men wear shorts and a t-shirt.
Some yoga teachers will provide a yoga mat at the class, but it is nice to buy your own if you will be going to yoga classes regularly. You can buy a yoga mat from £20 up to £100.
If you choose to try yoga the chances are you’ll be hooked. There are enough classes to reflect everyone’s tastes, and the balance of physical and mental benefits, with fun and variety in the scene, will transform you into a toned, chilled-out enthusiast within months!