How to Start a Yoga Practice and a List of 7 Common Yoga Styles

The best way to start something new in life is to try it out as soon as possible. The important realization within yoga is that it’s not about touching your toes, seriously, it’s not about flexibility. It’s about YOU feeling good. It’s not about standing on your head, but about standing on your feet and feeling balanced, harmonized, being in the centre.

Be aware of what are the reasons you want to start a yoga practice, write them down so you keep them in mind. Then and even before that, you are more than ready to take the first step. The first yoga movement on your mat. I mean, you don’t even need the mat. The best time to do so is right now. Only thinking about doing it will not help you to progress, it’s wasting your energy, but transforming the thoughts into an action is powerful. Then, you are one step closer to any intention you want to achieve.

3 Ways How to Start a Yoga Practice

1) Following a yoga video.
It’s the easiest option. Type “Yoga for Beginners” to either google or youtube. You don’t have to do a 60 minutes class, find one which is 15-20 minutes long to get the first feeling. You don’t need a special yoga mat, you can use any different type of mat or you can practice on a carpet. I love to practice just on the floor, if it’s not cold and slippery, I’m happy to practice anywhere. 

Choosing a video might feel complicated because there are so many of them. The easiest way is to pick one which looks nice to you. Important thing you should remember is that in all the yoga classes, you are the only one who knows what is and isn’t good for your body. In a practice, this means not going too far in the yoga poses, you should never feel any pain. Feel the body and follow your sensations. Find out more about Following your Body’s Needs in a recent blog post.

2) Taking a live class. 
The second option is to either visit a local studio or to practice online live from home. If you feel uncertain, you can tell the teacher that you are new to yoga before the class. He or she will be happy to help you and give you some extra help during the class. Also, if you have any medical conditions, please communicate them to your teacher. 

What’s beautiful on studio’s classes is the vibe of the collective practice and connecting with people with similar intentions. There is always a nice community of people in each studio.

3) Taking a private class.
A private class is an amazing way to go directly to your intentions in yoga. During a private class, the teacher has time only for you and he or she can create a practice which follows exactly your needs and goals. I offer private online programs which will get you started, I love to teach them because I can focus on the client and really bring the value of yoga to their lives on and off the yoga mat. 

Which Style of Class Should I choose?

This is a common question, which is not a surprise because there are so many styles these days. At the superficial level, we could divide them into two groups:

1. Styles working more with the yang element.
Yang practices are stronger and faster. They are dynamic and there is usually not much space to work with the mind because one is busy with all the movements but once you get into it, it becomes a meditative practice. The dynamism of the yang yoga practices keeps you at the present moment. It’s usually more physically challenging than yin practices. 

2. Styles working more with the yin element.
Yin practices are more gentle and slower. The movements are more static, poses are held for a longer time than in yang yoga practices. You can focus on how each body’s part feels in a position. There is space for you to be aware of what’s going on in your mind, to see the thoughts and to let them go. There is more mind work involved, what might be challenging at the beginning, but there is always something to focus on, for example the breath, body sensations and so on. It’s the beauty of this practice.

I will go through the most common yoga styles.

Style:

Dominant Element

Detail

 

 Hatha

 

Yin/Yang

Poses are held for a few breaths. There is a space to work with the mind. You can deeply learn how the positions should look and feel like. Hatha yoga, as well as most of the yoga styles, works with the energy flow in the body.

 

 

Poweryoga

 

Yang

It’s a dynamic practice. It’s faster than hatha yoga, usually slower than vinyasa. Sun salutation sequences are usually repeating throughout the whole class.

 

  

Vinyasa

 

Yang

Dynamic practice. There are sequences of poses which are called vinyasa. Each breath is followed by a movement, which is the core of the practice. There are sometimes poses held for a few breaths at the beginning and at the end of the class.

 

 

Ashtanga

 

Yang

There is a certain sequence of positions which is done in ashtanga yoga. The sequence is always the same, from the beginning to the end, each class. After you are familiar with the sequence, you have a space to focus on each pose and do it in the best way you can at the moment, constantly improving and noticing the progress.

 

 

Yin

 

Yin

This practice works with the deep tissues, mainly around joints. It’s very slow practice, poses are held for a few minutes, props are usually used. Most teachers incorporate knowledge from Chinese medicine in classes.

 

 

Restorative

 

Yin

Restorative practice was created to relax the body, to create more space in the body and to calm down the nervous system. There are classes where the poses are held for a few minutes but also classes where meditative movements are involved.

 

 

Yoga Nidra

 

Yin

Yoga Nidra is a guided meditative practice. It’s mostly done in shavasana for 15 – 40 minutes.  It’s an internalized yoga practice, withdrawal of the senses. One is in a state between being awake and sleeping. There is an aspect of witnessing and observing developed which is very beneficial in day-to-day life.

The funny and tricky fact about yoga styles is that each teacher was her or his own style of teaching which means that a vinyasa class from a teacher X might be completely different from a vinyasa class from a teacher Y. I recommend trying out a few styles of yoga as well as a few different teachers. It’s the best way  to find out what works for you. 😊 

When I started practicing yoga, I got a month membership in a local studio and I went to each class I could have attended. After a while I knew what I like better from my personal experience. It’s important to note that our preferences might be constantly changing as we are developing all the time and each day, we feel differently what projects various needs

How to Choose the Right Teacher?

As I mentioned above, it’s good to try out different teachers because each of them has something special to offer. Depending on what you are currently going through in your life, you might need a different teacher. Make sure you resonate with your teacher, because that’s the best way how you can learn the most from her/him.  

Conclusion: Takeaways

  1. Remember the reasons why you want to start a yoga practice.
  2. You are enough as you are!
  3. Take the first step today. Find a video for practicing or book a class.
  4. Try out as many classes as you can until you find the right style and teacher for you, it’s a journey.

I wish you all the best on this wonderful yoga journey! It’s exciting and so beautiful.

Have a lovely day.

Michaela 

PS: Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at michaela.simova.yoga[at]gmail[dot] or send me a message on my IG profile, I’m more than happy to answer to you.

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