Tuesday, 23 December 2008

How to Choose the Perfect Yoga Class For Your Type

With seemingly endless choices available - how will you know which yoga class suits you best? Here are a few general principles which will help.

What's the right style for you? You need to be honest about your fitness level, commitment and intentions in starting a yoga class. Is it to reduce stress? Get super-fit? Reduce your back pain? Calm your thoughts? Get in touch with your inner wisdom? Each yoga school has a different focus - some are more physically demanding, others focus more on meditation and chanting. See our guide to the some of the most popular styles available in the UK today.

Yoga style guide

Astanga vinyasa yoga

This is potentially very energetic and physically strong. It involves a lot of movement, a fair amount of upper body work and you will get hot and sweaty!

Ideal - if you are fit and want to be physically challenged

Sweat rating - 5

Peace of mind rating - 3


Created by Bikram Choudhury in Los Angeles, this style is performed in a heated room to allow the muscles to relax. A bikram class usually consists of twenty six asanas (yoga postures) and two breathing exercises, which maximises oxygenation and detoxification of the entire body.

Ideal - if you are very fit and want a vigorous workout

Sweat rating - 5

Peace of mind rating - 2

Dru Yoga

Dru Yoga, one of the largest yoga training schools in the UK, offers a graceful yet potent form of therapeutic yoga. Based on soft flowing movements, the emphasis is upon creating a supple spine, to free the energy within the body.

Ideal - for all levels of fitness, if you want a deeper approach to health and happiness

Sweat rating - 2

Peace of mind rating - 5

Dru Yoga Dance

This is a more upbeat and physically demanding form of Dru Yoga. It takes flowing Dru Yoga sequences and puts them to great music creating a great sense of wellbeing, and a good physical workout.

Ideal - if you like Dru's heart based flow but want to be more challenged physically

Sweat rating - 4

Peace of mind rating - 4


Hatha yoga is the generic term for any sort of yoga practise which involves a combination of postures, controlled breathing, and some kind of concentration and relaxation.

Ideal - if you want a safe local yoga class

Sweat rating - 2

Peace of mind rating - 5


Iyengar yoga originates from B.K.S. Iyengar. 3 elements distinguish Iyengar from other styles, namely technique (getting the alignment right), sequence (varying the order in which asanas are performed) and timing (holding the postures).

Ideal - if you want to strengthen your body and mind and love attention to detail

Sweat rating - 3

Peace of mind rating - 3


Kundalini Yoga includes a series of classic poses done repeatedly, kriyas, meditation and chanting. Spiritual transformation is the main aim of practice.

Ideal - if you want spiritual development and love singing

Sweat rating - 2

Peace of mind rating - 5


Sivananda Yoga is a style of traditional yoga practice formulated by yoga masters Swami Sivananda and Swami Vishnu-Devananda. Sivananda classes use a set sequence of exercises, always in the same pattern.

Ideal - if you're interested in learning about a disciplined, yogic lifestyle

Sweat rating - 2

Peace of mind rating - 5

The four questions you must ask your yoga teacher

Are you qualified? Make sure that your teacher has a current qualification, and is registered with the Yoga Alliance, Independent Yoga Network or the British Wheel of Yoga. This may seem obvious, but some teachers out there have bogus qualifications. Also ask if they do regular training to keep their yoga education up to date. Good yoga teachers will do a couple of continued training courses a year to keep their knowledge current.

Is there an emphasis on safety? Safety is crucial - many people get injured every year from over stretching when they haven't adequately prepared. Does your teacher offer modifications and contra-indications to each posture? Do they do enough warm-ups and cool-downs? Is there an adequate period of relaxation at the end of the class?

Does your teacher walk their talk? Yoga is more than an occasional hobby. It's a way to unite body, mind and soul. To be a good yoga teacher, daily practice is crucial - your teacher should enjoy what they teach - or else you won't! They should also be approachable and get on well with their students. In the ancient tradition of yoga, the relationship between teacher and student was one of the most important - and it's true today as well.

Is the class conveniently located? If you're going to get to your class, rain or shine, then choose a location that's realistic. I've seen so many students attending classes enthusiastically at the beginning of September, only to decide that it's just too far when the cold, dark nights set in.

To conclude, I suggest that you try different styles of yoga until you find one that suits you. The benefits of attending a regular class are enormous - for example:

'I've lost over a stone in the last 6 weeks through doing Dru Yoga. I do the flowing, graceful Sun Sequence at a Dru Yoga class and at home, and it seems to balance my body and take away the edge of my hunger. When I do Dru Yoga I can feel my body's natural intelligence kicking in.' Helena Davey, Lecturer, North Wales.

http://www.druworldwide.com/ is the website where you'll find Dru yoga tips, retreats and holidays. If you're looking for a Dru Yoga DVD, yoga book or CD, then visit http://shop.druworldwide.com/

Jane Clapham is a Dru Yoga teacher, and trains people to become yoga teachers in the glorious surroundings of Snowdonia, in North Wales, UK. She also leads yoga retreats and holidays in the celtic mountains of Wales and in sunny places worldwide. Contact her at hello@druworldwide.com to be included in the weekly newsletter from Dru worldwide, which includes yoga and stress-busting tips. For more information about Dru Yoga, visit druworldwide.com. You'll find yoga classes, yoga holidays and yoga training courses which are taught in the UK, North America, Netherlands and Australia. Have a stress-free day!

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