What is yoga and how do you get started with it? How do you choose from so many styles, studios, classes and levels out there now. If you are new to yoga and wanting to learn the basic of the poses then consider taking a class for beginners. There are many styles to choose from depending if you want a vigorous, moderate, gentle, meditative or therapeutic style and if you want how to yoga poses.
If yoga for weight loss is your goal, then the vigorous styles such as vinyasa, power, flow hot, or Bikram are your best choices. These will be very physically demanding and the instructor often just call out the names of poses without explaining how to get into them properly.
The instructors also don't offer modifications if you have past injuries, surgeries of physical conditions that will limit your practice or range of motion such as arthritis or a herniated disc. Hot yoga such as Bikram is not for the faint of heart and will add another level of difficulty to a demanding practice. Because of the challenging nature of these styles of yoga, they are not ideal choices if you are unfamiliar with yoga unless you are an athlete and in prime physical condition already. Most injuries come from these kinds of styles of yoga due to their aggressive nature and lack of modifications.
The more moderate styles such as hatha yoga can range from challenging to accessible depending on your athletic ability and range of flexibility. Hatha yoga is usually the standard taught at most yoga studios in the US. You will find many of the classical poses here such as warrior, down-dog, cobra, plank and chair pose. There is not a lot of variation in these classes and if you are looking for a challenging practice without it being overwhelming then it might be an appropriate choice for some beginners. There is not a lot of modifications in these classes so if you have injuries or limiting physical conditions such as knee or wrist problems then it is not an ideal choice.
If you have injuries or limitations but still want a challenging practice then an Iyengar class is ideal. Iyengar teachers have the most rigorous standards for their teacher training in terms of their knowledge of biomechanics and anatomy. They have superior knowledge with working with students with a range of conditions such back pain or tendinitis. If you are new to yoga, make sure to go to a level one class.
If you want a gentle, more meditative style or are suffering from anxiety, insomnia, cancer or depression, restorative yoga is an ideal choice. This will not be a workout the way some of the other styles of yoga are but you will be passive in many of the poses with a lot of props such as bolsters and blocks which will help the body to release deeply embedded patterns of tension and tightness. You won't have to worry about injuries since it is not physically demanding like the other styles of yoga.