Now that yoga has become more popular, it's easy to find all kinds of classes, and not just in studios devoted exclusively to the practice. Dance studios, gyms, health clubs, community centers, and senior centers all offer yoga classes.
It is important to find the right yoga style for you, as well as a teacher that you like. You really can't know what a class is like until you attend it. Even when two teachers use the same terms to describe their classes, the classes may be quite different.
Types of yoga
There are many different types of yoga, such as those described below. You may be more comfortable with a particular type, depending on your interest and fitness level. If you haven't been exercising regularly, be sure to check with your doctor before beginning any yoga or other exercise program.
This form of yoga, the most popular in the United States, involves physical postures (called asanas) and breathing techniques (called pranayama). These two practices form the bulk of Hatha yoga—the yoga of force—which emphasizes strengthening and purifying the body.
This style of yoga concentrates on alignment and is fluid and dancelike. It uses props, such as wooden blocks, straps, chairs, bolsters, and blankets to help you achieve and hold postures you otherwise couldn't assume.
This kind of yoga is sometimes called Ashtanga Vinyasa or Power Yoga. It's intense and fast-paced, designed to build your endurance and strength. You perform a series of postures in one continuous, flowing movement. You link the motions to breathing patterns.
Bikram Yoga involves a set sequence of 26 postures that you practice twice per session. First you do standing and balance poses, and then back bends, forward bends, and twisting postures.
You do this form of yoga in a very hot room, unlike many other types of yoga.
Restorative Yoga is different from other practices. It eliminates the active postures, and focuses instead on the relaxation part of yoga.
This type of yoga is attractive if you want a gentler, slower-moving style of yoga—something between restorative yoga and the more vigorous forms.