Feel Great · Fitness

Picking the Best Yoga Class for You

So you want to try yoga…but you don’t know your downward dog from your crow pose, and what the heck is the difference between Bikram style and vinyasa? Signing up for a yoga class may seem intimidating at first, but once you have a background on the different class types, registering for that first class becomes a whole lot easier. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most common types of yoga you may see available at your local studio or gym:

  • Hatha yoga is a basic form of yoga that is taught in most studios. These classes typically run through a set of basic physical postures with emphasis on proper alignment and connection to breath. There is no set list of postures or length of class time required of Hatha yoga, so classes will vary greatly between studios and instructors. Recommended for: beginner yogis or those who would like to build a foundation of skills.
  • Bikram yoga is a highly structured style of yoga in which you work through a sequence of 26 poses, each performed twice. The room that the classes are held in is heated to a minimum temperature of 105 degrees F at 40% humidity. The class runs for about an hour and a half, and you will leave class having worked up a good sweat. Make sure not to forget your water bottle and extra towel! Recommended for: seasoned athletes or anyone looking for an intense workout.
  • Vinyasa yoga is a style of yoga that places emphasis on movement, transitions between poses, and the breath. In Sanskrit, the term vinyasa means “flow.” Expect to run through several cycles of sun salutations in these classes, and you will surely work up a sweat by the end of the class, although not as much as you would in a Bikram class. Musical accompaniment is common in vinyasa-style yoga classes. Recommended for: the yogi who becomes bored easily in slow-paced classes.
  • Yin yoga is a type of restorative yoga that typically utilizes blocks, straps, and pillows to deepen your stretch. These classes run through a few select poses, and you hold each pose for about four to five minutes each to target deep connective tissue. These classes move at a slow pace, are typically taught in dim light, and leave you feeling refreshed and deeply stretched. Recommended for: the overly stressed individual or athletes looking for a cross-training activity.

If heading to a studio seems too daunting for your first experience at yoga, there are many online resources that you can choose from to start a home practice. Check out Yoga Journal for a broad selection of yoga videos that you can do in the comfort of your dorm room or apartment. Yoga guru Tara Stiles also has a great collection of instructional videos on her YouTube page that are great for the beginner or seasoned yogi.

By Julie Kameisha