Choosing the Yoga for You
January is the time that many people are looking to get started in a fitness regimen. Cardio and weight training used to be the norm, but in the last few years, more people are asking me about yoga to meet their fitness goals. I am happy to see the spread of yoga into the mainstream, but since the practice of yoga has been westernized and commercialized, there are some misconceptions out there that I'd like to address.
First, there are many types of yoga and you need to find the tradition that suits your personality and fitness goals. If you are looking for a vigorous workout, try a vinyasa flow or a power yoga class. If you are recovering from an injury, look at hot yoga or restorative yoga. If you like routine, try a bikram class. If you are looking to deepen your practice with meditation involved, go for hatha or anusara.
Second, find a class with trained instructors. Looking good in leggings and sporting an "ohm" tattoo does not a good instructor make. Investigate by asking for recommendations; look at an instructor's reviews on their website, Facebook, or Thumbtack; and check out the directory at www.yogaalliance.org which is the premiere certifying organization for yoga professionals.
Thirdly, realize that the movement (asana) is just one facet of yoga. If that is your main goal, then you probably can find a yoga class at your local gym or Y. But if you are looking to incorporate the deeper practice of a yoga lifestyle, than you would be better served in a Center that specializes in yoga.
Finally, realize that nothing in yoga should ever hurt or make you feel uncomfortable. Choosing the yoga practice that reasonates with you might take some time, but it is so worth it. I have had students who have started with me go on to other practices and then loyal students who have been with me for years. I cherish both because their experiences make me a better instructor.
I hope that you consider adding yoga as part of a healthy lifestyle and find the practice that enhances your enjoyment and quality of life. It is so worth it!