It is tempting to lump all yoga classes together and generalize that they will all be the same. If you have tried one, you've tried them all. Nothing could be further from the truth. Every class has a different focus, ability level, teacher and environment. We all have different reasons for doing yoga. Your personal focus will help determine the best yoga class for you.
Here are some things to think about when choosing a class:
- Your Goal.Everyone wants something different from yoga. Decide what your expectations are and use these to weed through the choices. It will make your decision a lot easier. What do you want from your yoga practice?
- Stress Reduction
- More Flexibility
- Spiritual practice
- Build strength
- Work out
- Class size. Is this a small, intimate gathering where you will get individual attention from the instructor? Or is this class more like college lecture classes where the postures are demonstrated at the front of the room, but you have no personal interaction with the teacher? The physical size of the classroom will also determine how many people can comfortably stretch out and not smack each other accidentally.
- Teacher is available for questions.The instructor should be accessible and easy to talk to about your concerns. This is especially important for beginners because newcomers to yoga often compare themselves to others in the class and may overexert themselves and cause injury. An experienced teacher will emphasize that each student needs to go at their own pace and not force his/her body to do something it is not ready to do.
- Instructor focused on correct form.Making sure you don't overstretch or go past your limit is very important in yogic practice. A good instructor will often walk around to each student to check your form in the poses and make sure you are not holding your breath. Injury prevention should be a top priority.
- Peaceful environment.Is there soothing background music or lots of floor pounding next door from the aerobics class down the hall? Are people talking to each other during class and distracting others? Are there buzzing fluorescent lights overhead? All these little things in the environment can have a huge impact on whether you get the effects of the experience that you were hoping for. Look for a calm, serene environment. You'll know when you find it.