Yoga is an active type of meditation that focuses on the combination of mind and body. Yoga can be fantastic for anyone who wants to dive into a more in-depth physical or spiritual connection or even someone looking for a way to wind down or work on their flexibility.
When trying to choose a yoga class as a beginner, you want something that will be slow and well taught so you can get your form correct. There are many different types of yoga, so finding the one that fits you is important.
Hatha Yoga is one of the most inclusive types of yoga classes you can take. It is advertised as something anyone from 8-88 years of age can benefit and participate in, making it something that any person with any skill level can jump in and enjoy.
You will hold the poses for far longer than any other class to entice a deep stretch that really challenges your muscles and mind. Due to the long holds and slow nature of the course, beginners often find themselves in these classes to learn common poses.
Overall, Hatha Yoga is:
- The most basic form of yoga
- Focuses on easy posture and poses
- One of the easiest class for beginners because it teaches only the basics
This is a fantastic class for beginners due to its focus on form and alignment. There are a few different difficulty levels based upon the poses they use. It’s best to start with the lowest difficulty and go up from there.
Iyengar yoga uses yoga blocks, blankets, straps, and even rope walls to allow for a broad range of motion that is safe and effective. You hold the poses for an extended period of time to maximize the effectiveness and benefits you are receiving from that pose.
Teachers share incredible amounts of information during class that helps you understand how to do the poses well and what the poses are best used for. This is a beautiful class to start your yoga journey with.
To break it down, Iyengar yoga is:
- Perfect for those who love information and explanations
- Great for beginners to learn about the why behind everything
- Focuses on the information and history behind yoga and its poses
Ashtanga yoga is a vigorous and intense style of yoga, so most beginners go for Mysore, which is an ashtanga style yoga, but done at your own pace. Mysore yoga is taught in a group setting, but each student receives a set of poses that are tailored to their skill level.
You and the instructor would go through them one-on-one, and then you can choose how fast, slow, deep, and shallow you prefer to stretch into the poses. As you get better at yoga, you can be fit with harder routines to raise your skill level.
This type of yoga is also great for those who are working through a minor injury due to the wide range of choices and difficulty levels you can work through. You can still be active through your injury, and as you get better, you can get more involved to help strengthen yourself.
In simple terms, Mysore yoga is great because:
- It focuses on meeting students where their skill level is
- You receive a customized routine that won’t be too challenging
- It’s perfect for beginners because you get to go at your own pace
This type of yoga is classified for beginners due to the predictability of the yoga poses. Bikram yoga consists of the same 26 yoga poses in every class and the same flow in every class. You will quickly get acquainted with the flow of the poses and be able to master the class after a few times.
Bikram yoga is one of the few types of yoga that is specifically done in the hot yoga atmosphere. The point of this class is to sweat, so with the same routine, you can focus on mental clarity instead of the poses and moves. This can feel strenuous due to the heat, so it’s recommended that you take it slow and stay well hydrated.
Bikram is considered really simple to get the hang of because:
- It only focuses on 26 poses with two different breathing exercises
- Intense and sweat inducing but repetitive and routine forming
- It is perfect for those who like routines and repetitive workouts
If you go into restorative yoga expecting to feel the sweat, you would be disappointed. Restorative yoga focuses more on the length of holding poses to allow for a deeper state of relaxation and more focus on your form.
Doing this allows your mind and body to be calmer and heal while also improving flexibility and mental clarity. Due to restorative yoga being so slow-paced, it is likely that you will find a deeper mind to body connection. This can help you set a baseline for more advanced yoga practices.
Generally, restorative yoga is a good option because:
- It is great for beginners due to slow-paced classes
- Uses props to increase correct form and target specific muscles
- It’s great for athletes working through an injury or looking for an active rest day
Hybrid yinyasa, or flow and restore classes are great for those who want the physical exertion and sweat but also desire the mental clarity and meditative slowness of yoga. These classes start off harder and faster, then slow down to more of a restorative type of yoga.
Allowing an increase in heart rate and exertion before you slow down gives your body a chance to rest actively. You can still burn calories, but without completely burning yourself out.
Overall, hybrid yoga is recommended for beginners because:
- Gives the best of both worlds, slow and faced paced
- Focuses on sweat as well as relaxed meditating
- Perfect for beginners who want a workout with a nice cooldown
Starting out in yoga, you may realize you are not able to complete some of the poses or hold them as long as you are supposed to. This is normal for those who don’t regularly practice yoga or anything that focuses on flexibility.
Yin yoga is a great way to work on your flexibility and strength of your poses and form. Typically you will hold poses for 3+ minutes at a time to allow your muscles to feel the length at which they can stretch. This can help with greater mental clarity as well due to the slow pace of the class.
Specifically, this type of class is targeted to ultimately affect and work on your deep connective tissue and fascia to allow for the greatest improvement in flexibility and muscle control.
Generally, Yin yoga would be great for those wanting to:
- Focus on relaxing the muscles into a pose instead of actively engaging them
- Focus on achieving greater flexibility
- Take a class that is more focused on meditative moments
If you are someone looking for more of a spiritual practice instead of a physical activity, then kundalini yoga would be the perfect class type for you. You will be learning and repeating poses while doing controlled breathing exercises, chants, or singing.
The controlled breathing will help you focus more on a mental or spiritual connection, and you can chant or focus on your ultimate goal. You can start with any goal in mind, but the ultimate goal of kundalini is to attain self-awareness.
Overall, Kundalini yoga is:
- A type of yoga focused more on the spiritual aspect of the body
- Yoga that use poses to create meditative postures
- Perfect for those who want to dive into a spiritual awakening
Hot yoga is a great way to burn a few extra calories while also attending your current yoga class. While hot yoga is a type of yoga, it is simple yoga classes in a steam room or heated room that allows for more sweat.
You should be able to find any type of yoga class made into a version of hot yoga. This can help you stay on your skill level while helping to meet a weight goal or just burn a few more calories than normal.
Hot yoga will be done in a room with a temperature between 95 and 104 degrees. Putting yourself in this environment while also doing physical activity can help your body’s natural detoxification process as well as showing your body, you can handle more than your mind believes.
Generally, Hot yoga is:
- A hot setting that any type of class can be done in
- Practiced in a temperature-controlled room between 95 and 104 degrees
- Perfect for any skill level wanting to burn more calories or reach a weight goal faster
What Does Yoga Do?
It is a common misconception that yoga, or the mediation that often goes along with it, doesn’t truly work the way people say it does. However, there have been hundreds of studies done that show incredible improvement in a wide range of functional areas.
Yoga can help with physical struggles, mental issues, emotional struggles, and even help improve day-to-day issues like chronic pain or asthma.
Frequently people don’t believe they can do yoga because they are not flexible enough to maintain some positions. Often, yoga is looked at as something that only flexible people do, when, in reality, yoga can help you become more flexible when regularly practiced.
When you place your joints and muscles into a certain position, your muscle fibers create a memory, which is called muscle memory. The next time you get into that same position, your mind and muscles remember it and allow you to go further into the stretch.
Over time you will be able to hold harder positions for longer amounts of time. This can help protect your muscles and joints from overextending or injuries from tight muscles.
Yoga is also discounted by some because they believe that they could never focus on something so slow for so long. However, it is good to push your body and mind past the limits that you believe you have.
Learning how to focus on calming activities allows you to teach your mind to stop over thinking. People have learned how to overcome several things by using yoga and its meditative properties, such as:
- Panic attacks
- ADHD issues
- Racing Thoughts
- Manic Episodes
Meditating on calm activities with the purpose of getting through a physical, emotional, or mental issue is a great way to retrain your brain and the neuron pathways how they are supposed to react to situations.
You know how important active rest days are for anyone trying to stay in shape or consistent with their workout. While it is great to give your muscles a rest from being overworked, not doing anything can also mess up your effort and routines.
An active rest day is when you do something in place of working out that isn’t so hard on your muscles, or doesn’t get your heart rate up very high. Yoga is a great activity for an active rest day, so you can burn calories and engage your muscles without overworking your body.
Improve Lung Function
When you practice yoga, you will learn the importance of breath control. Whether it is short, forceful, powerful breathing in and out, or slow-paced breaths, you will be conditioning your lungs to do something you have likely never done before.
The vital capacity of your lungs is the total volume of air that your lungs can hold. When you learn to control your breathing, you will continuously push the limits of your lung capacity. This can increase daily function and help reverse some effects from sickness, smoking, or disease.
The elasticity of your lungs is how forceful you can breathe in or out. For example, when trying to blow up a balloon, if you struggle, it is because you don’t have very much muscle control over your lungs. Therefore your breath will only come out so fast. Increasing the elasticity in your lungs will help you be able to control this and also improve daily function.
While yoga does not specifically work on the heart as a muscle, it does help other factors that aid in heart health. Lower stress is important for your heart, and meditating through yoga can help lower the cortisol numbers in your body.
While yoga is not an intense workout, it will burn calories and increase muscle function. Being active is the best way to help your heart get stronger and healthier. The heart is a muscle, and just like any other muscle, if it is not regularly pushed or challenged, it can become weaker.
How do You Know Which Type of Yoga is Best For You?
Figuring out what type of yoga is the best option for you is simple once you figure out what you want from it. The best thing you can do when starting yoga is going into it with an open mind.
Starting yoga with the mindset to accept all that comes with the teacher, and the class will allow you to fully involve yourself and receive all the benefits. You can always decide you don’t want to be involved with a certain aspect later, but it won’t hurt to try it out.
Don’t Give Up
When you begin taking yoga classes, or even if you just start attempting some poses, you may be discouraged by your lack of ability to fully engage in certain poses. Don’t let this discourage you to the point of quitting!
Working through obstacles and allowing your body to be in some uncomfortable positions for a while is the only way you are going to master some of the harder poses down the line.
Furthermore, if you can challenge yourself enough mentally, you will be able to find a new level of clarity and connection between your mind and body. This will put you into a deeper state of meditation when you do yoga next and allow for a better handle on your health.
If you are a beginner looking for a start into yoga, there are many classes made just for people like you. Even if you are a seasoned athlete wanting more of a physically challenging start, they have classes for that too. Yoga is subjective, but the overall message is clear: listen to what your body needs.
Yoga is really a great place for anyone to find something for them. Whether you are looking for mental or spiritual help or a physical outcome, yoga can help with all 3.