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Do you want to reduce stress, improve your body’s condition or find peace of mind? A yoga class can help you reach any (or all) of these goals. There are many types of yoga classes, from slow flow to powerful hot classes. Be sure your goals are realistic for you, and this will help you find the right class.
Remember that goals help you stay motivated as you work toward a specific achievement. Without setting goals, it’s too easy to give up when the going gets tough. And just the act of creating a goal can promote well-being in all aspects of your health — physical, mental and spiritual.
Of course, you need sustained effort to reach meaningful goals. As with most fitness activities, one or two yoga sessions are not enough. Yoga is a practice for life. This ongoing journey fulfills your body and mind as you continue to practice.
Need help finding the right kinds of classes? To start, ask yourself these three questions:
1. What do you want to accomplish?
First, decide what you want out of a yoga class. Do you want to lose weight, improve flexibility, build muscle or relieve stress?
Explore a class that is the most basic in your area of interest and then observe or try that class to determine if it is exactly what you want.
There are many styles of yoga that incorporate a lot of physical movement and strengthening — Ashtanga, Bikram and Power Yoga to name a few. Try one of these if your goal is building more muscle. If you want a gentle class to relieve stress and stiffness in your muscles, you might try a Slow Flow class. Just beginning? A beginner’s class or workshop can help.
Anyplace offering classes should offer a class description and allow you to observe the class first if you like. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced yoga student with an established practice, you can find a class that supports your needs.
2. What are the staff and instructors like?
A yoga studio with a warm, friendly and helpful staff will motivate you to keep coming back. When you walk in for your first visit, does the staff meet and greet you initially? Do they offer you a tour and guide you to equipment rooms, bathrooms and the actual yoga room? Do they clearly explain protocol for class start and end times?
They should inform you of equipment that is available, such as mats, blocks, straps and blankets. If they don’t, just ask. If no equipment is available, find out what you will need to bring when you attend class.
The best way to decide what class to take is to make sure the teacher is Yoga Alliance-certified. This certification requires the teacher to maintain hours of teaching, education and best-practice standards. Talk to the instructor about your goals and the classes that will help you achieve them.
3. Do you feel comfortable during the classes?
As you experiment with different yoga classes, you will find that some classes seem to emphasize your goals more than others. Finding a class that’s comfortable for you and that meets your physical, mental and spiritual needs is what matters most.
Yoga is accessible and attainable for anyone. You should never experience pain or discomfort during your practice. Be sure to find a class that supports you as a student. Practice self-care, compassion and patience with your own body.