Trying to get your arms around which yoga class is right for you? Virtually all yoga classes are focused around the union of the mind, body and spirit, but each approach can be drastically different.
"To select the style that's best for you and your body, it's important to consider your goals for starting a yoga practice," says Alene Brennan, health coach and yoga instructor.
If you're looking to reduce anxiety, a deeply rooted physical practice may not be ideal to start. If you're incorporating yoga as a form of rehabilitation, you'll need to concentrate on alignment and detail, rather than the pace of a flow or vinyasa class (which utilize synchronized breathing and movement techniques).
Navigate your mat to the best yoga class for you by following the A, B, Cs of yoga styles.
Attention to detail
Iyengar: B.K.S Iyengar focuses on the alignment and use of props - blocks, blankets, straps, etc. This class is slower paced to help emphasize the understanding of the body and how it works.
Therapeutic yoga: Yoga therapy can help manage a variety of health conditions, reduce symptoms and restore overall balance in the body. It's important to inquire about the instructor's training and experience in caring for your condition.
Ashtanga: This fast-paced sequential method is physically demanding and places a strong emphasis on linking the breath with movement.
Bikram: Be prepared to feel hot, hot, hot as you complete a series of 26 poses (no inversions) for 90 minutes in a room that sizzles at 105 degrees. Founder Bikram Choudhury's theorizes that the intense heat warms the muscles and detoxifies the body.
Baptiste: You'll also feel the heat in this Baron Baptiste class that pushes the temperature to 96 degrees. The sequencing of poses reflects more of a vinyasa flow and includes both arm balances and inversions.
Vinyasa: This popular style of yoga is all about the flow - transitioning from one movement to the next. Most commonly, a vinyasa class will concentrate on sun salutations but no two classes are alike.
Hatha: This term originally referred to the physical practice of yoga (versus meditation, advanced breathing, etc.) but now reflects more of a general style of yoga. While there's a great degree of variation in classes, this tends to be a great introduction into yoga for beginners.
Restorative: Many props are used in this class to help get the body as comfortable as possible, and poses are held longer to enjoy the relaxation. This is a great class for de-stressing!
Yoga Nidra: Translated as "yogic sleep," Yoga Nidra offers ultimate relaxation. Much of the class is conducted in savasana (corpse pose) and is primarily focused on a guided meditative rest.
Yin yoga: Poses in this yoga class are held for several minutes at a time with the intention of stretching the body's connective tissue. You'll be seated or lying down while focusing on relaxation.
"Keep in mind that you're experiencing one instructor's interpretation of one style of yoga," says Brennan. "If you didn't enjoy the class, don't give up on yoga completely. Try another instructor or another style until you find the right fit for you."