It’s that time of year when people start looking for something new to try. Summer is over and we need something to inspire and motivate us as we transition into Autumn and what will be the long, dark months ahead.
There is an abundance of yoga classes out there so when it comes to choosing the right class for you, I get that it can feel pretty overwhelming. There are lots of styles of yoga, different levels and oodles of teachers too. So where do you start? In this blog post, I hope to break it down so you can find a yoga class and teacher that is just right for you!
A good place to start is to decide how you want to learn. The options are attending an in-person group class, a one2one (or one2two), or practising online. There are benefits to all of these so I’ll go through each one.
If you crave community and meeting new people, this could be the right way for you to go. The teacher will have a class plan which is generic for the whole group, however, a good teacher will offer options in poses so you get to choose which one works best for you.
This offers a highly personalised experience that is tailored to your specific needs. Private yoga classes are great if you’re working with an injury or recovering from an illness as your teacher will come up with a dedicated plan just for you. If you have a busy schedule, you can practice in the comfort of your own home or even virtually taking away any unnecessary travelling. Think of a bespoke service that gets you ALL of the teachers’ attention.
If you have an all-over-the-place schedule and would struggle with finding the same time and day every week to practice, this is a good choice. There are online memberships available that offer live classes and also have video libraries so you could practice at 2 am if needed (so long as you have a decent wifi signal). Online classes are also great if you feel anxious about stepping outside and would rather stay in the comfort of your home where you feel safe.
Find a teacher
The next thing to do is start checking out different teachers in your local area. You could try a google search, ask a friend if they have any recommendations or keep your eye on local notice boards and social media for teachers advertising their services.
Finding the right teacher is really important so don’t be afraid to contact a few different teachers and ASK QUESTIONS.
There are teachers out there who are trained to work with particular groups of people: pregnancy, anxiety, trauma, specific injuries or illnesses such as back pain or cancer.
If you’re looking for something more general, then think about what you want to achieve from your yoga class. Is it to get stronger, become more flexible and mobile, feel more relaxed, or explore spirituality?
Ask the teacher if they have a speciality that would suit what you’re looking for. It’s also worth pointing out here that it’s a good idea to ask your teacher about their own experience of yoga and their teacher training. There has been a huge increase over the last few years in sub-standard courses churning out teachers with little to no experience. This has led to an offering of classes that don’t really meet people who suffer from any kind of issue. I will talk more about this in another blog post but do be mindful and ask questions.
Once you’ve identified a few teachers that offer what you’re looking for, try out a few different classes and styles. It’s important to find a teacher that you resonate with and this may mean attending a few until you find the right one. It’s okay to have a couple of teachers. I have one teacher who is brilliant with asana and correct/safe alignment, and another teacher I learn about yoga philosophy and chanting.
Figure out what time and day you have available each week. Consistency is key. It’s the same as going to the gym – dipping in and out may be of some benefit but if you really want to see results, practising every week is what you should commit to.
There are plenty of yoga styles out there – hatha, vinyasa, ashtanga, dru, goat yoga, chair yoga… I doubt I could even list them all, but classes should have a description alongside them so you should get an idea of what you’re getting. If you’re not sure, ask the teacher what to expect. If you’re unable to get up and down off the floor without aid, walking into a class that expects you to do this will leave you feeling frustrated so it’s better to ask first.
I’m a firm believer that yoga can be enjoyed by everyone. Whether you’re in your eighties, recovering from a neck injury, inflexible and can’t touch your knees let alone your toes, a marathon runner or weightlifter, struggling with mental health and feeling delicate or vulnerable, into strength and fitness, or wanting to find a deeper meaning to life, there is a yoga class and teacher that is just right for you.