“We are our choices.” ― Jean-Paul Sartre
In my previous post I provided The Speed-Reader’s Guide to Yoga to give you, dear reader, super brief descriptions of some of the major styles of yoga out there today. Now that you know a bit about what’s out there, how do you choose a practice that’s right for you? Here are some tips to help get you started:
Know what you want (and what you don’t)
People come to yoga from all walks of life for all sorts of reasons. First you just have to ask yourself why do you want to try yoga? Maybe you want to destress after a long day at the office. Maybe you’re recovering from illness or injury. Maybe you want to live a more healthy life. Maybe you want to sleep better. Maybe you just want to try something new!
Then think about the kinds of activities that bring you joy. If you prefer unwinding by reading a book then a restorative class might be great for you. If you get off on burning energy at the gym, then a more vigorous vinyasa practice might float your boat.
Your perfect practice lies somewhere in between.
Yoga is exponentially growing in popularity. New studios are popping up all around and there are thousands of new yoga teachers each year. Chances are, someone you know practices yoga. Why not ask them about their practice? Find out what they like about it and why they do it, or tag along to their next class.
Many studios offer free or discounted classes for new students. Call your local studio and tell them why you’re interested in trying yoga and they will be able to recommend a class or a teacher based on your needs.
Try It Out
Show up and give it a go. For some, this is the hardest step but it’s the most important one. Just taking those first steps on your mat is all it takes to experience something new. Sure you might not like it, but you might also love it! How cool would that be?
Don’t be discouraged if you didn’t enjoy the class as much as your friend, or if you couldn’t do all the poses, or if you didn’t like the teacher. Every individual’s experience with yoga is very personal and subjective and it can take time (in my case, years) before I found a practice that I really connected with. Which brings me to my last tip...
Repeat Step 3
Even after making all of these considerations, really the right practice for you is the one that feels good for your body! Forget about the labels. Leave behind the judgments (the “I’m not flexible enough for that”, “I’m not strong enough for that” and the “I’m not fit enough for that”).
Ultimately, there is only one way to know if a practice is right for you and that is to TRY IT! And if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again: different classes, different teachers, different styles. Youtube is an awesome resource.* If you’re still unsure, book a private class.
What do you like most about your yoga practice? What other tips do you have for finding a practice that’s right for you? Share in the comments below!
*Editor’s note: It would be remiss of me not to give a shout-out to one of the best YouTube yogis out there: Adriene Mishler. Her channel YogaWithAdriene is chock-full of yoga practices to suit just about every mood. Go! Try! Let me know how it goes!