It is generally agreed that the ancient practice of yoga provides practitioners with a myriad of health benefits including increased strength and flexibility, lower blood pressure, an ability to better manage stress, and improved sleep. But with a long list of options for how, where, and when to practice – and with new styles of practice popping up at a mind-numbing rate – how does a beginner choose where to begin? Read on for a range of suggested practices proving that yoga is, in fact, for everybody.
Looking for a mellow, stress-relieving practice? Your best bets are Yin Yoga, which incorporates passive stretches held for several minutes to open connective tissue and Yoga Nidra, often called “yogic sleep,” a practice more like guided meditation. Another great option for folks looking for moderate movement and peace inducing poses is Restorative Yoga, which involves gentle movement, supported holds, and deep relaxation. These types of classes are typically appropriate for any level of practitioner, from first-timer to advanced.
Those looking for a good sweat should opt for heated classes like Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Hot Hatha, and Baptiste (Power Vinyasa). While these classes are more athletic in nature, they also incorporate breath practice and meditation, ensuring you get a rocking workout as well as a dose of serenity. Beginners should absolutely communicate injuries or physical challenges to the instructor ahead of class so that they may be given modifications for more advanced postures. Heated practices make it easier for the body to go deeper, so go slow in the beginning and make sure to listen to your body.
Iyengar Yoga is great for folks looking to get a precise, alignment-based lesson. While these classes tend to move at a slower pace, they still provide students with a physically challenging and disciplined practice. Students flock to Iyengar classes to increase flexibility, stamina, breath control, and strength. This is an accessible practice for people of varying physical abilities that promotes body awareness and healing.
Additionally, there are varying types of specialized yoga practices. For pregnant women, those looking to conceive, and new mothers, Pre-Natal Yoga provides not only a nourishing physical practice, but often doubles as a comprehensive community resource for those new to childbirth and parenthood. AcroYoga offers deep partner-assisted stretches and exhilarating “flying” poses for those looking for a playful and communal experience. Since most studios offer new member specials for both in-person and livestream classes, it’s easy to try any style you find intriguing. Notice where you feel most welcome and which types of practice energize your body. Finding a yoga practice you love can be life-changing, so take your time to find the one that speaks to you.
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