Tips for Choosing the Yoga Class That’s Right for You

Planning to go to a yoga class? Then you’re on your way to a better body and a better mind. But before joining that popular class around the corner, you might do well to sit down for a bit and examine your reasons for joining a class. Selecting a yoga class is easy, but actually staying in one long enough to reap the benefits is more difficult than you think.

Yoga classes are not the same as classes held in instructional videos. If you’re serious about going to a yoga class, best keep these videos on the shelf for now. If you’re a yoga beginner, you’re better off joining a class than venturing on your own. Here are a few tips to help you in your yoga class selection:

What do you want to get out of yoga?
People practice yoga for different reasons and you would be surprised that some actually do it just to follow a trend. Since ‘everybody’ is doing it, why shouldn’t they?

This is the wrong approach. Yoga is a discipline and it will do nothing to you if you go in thinking you’ll be hip and fit in a few sessions. Yoga sessions may be gentle, but they will challenge your body and mind to a certain degree. If you’re not ready or just plain not up to it, you’ll end up frustrated.

Go to a yoga class if you want to build your stamina and strength and improve your flexibility. You might also want to achieve a physical and spiritual balance or maybe you just want to join a yoga class to help you relax. Your reasons and goals are important because they will help you decide which yoga style you can use and benefit from.

Class size
If you’re a yoga beginner, you might want a smaller class. In these settings, the atmosphere is more intimate and you’re not likely to be overwhelmed in a crowd. This is also a good idea since you don’t have the proper flexibility, strength and knowledge yet to work independently and a teacher will be more able to interact with you personally. A bigger class with just one teacher might leave you unattended and sometimes, ignored.

If you can afford it, go for a one-on-one class with a personal yoga trainer. You can ensure that every step of the way is covered and monitored and mistakes are immediately corrected.

Look around you
Yoga centers are very common in urban areas and one seems to be sprouting at every corner each week. Your local fitness club or YMCA may also hold yoga classes. Before joining one, find out which yoga style is being practiced and what level of difficulty is allowed. You might also want to ask about the yoga teacher who leads the class. Ask about his qualifications and teaching style.

Teacher qualifications
Not everyone can teach yoga. It is a discipline and requires an experienced and insightful instructor who can lead his or her students not only to physical fitness but ultimately to a path of enlightenment. If that seems a little ‘swami-ish’, well, yoga is that and more. After all, it was first practiced as a form of mental and spiritual meditation.

Some of the qualities a yoga teacher must have are:
A complete understanding of yoga – just because a person has started practicing yoga for a few months and is flexible enough to swing his leg over his shoulders doesn’t mean he’s equipped to teach in a yoga class. Yoga classes need a teacher who has expertise and who can also help a yoga student develop a better understanding of yoga. An instructor who does not know the inner workings of the yoga practice can do more harm than good to his students.

A gift for communicating – yoga teachers interact with students and they should know how to express themselves clearly. They should also be able to encourage their students’ learning properly through verbal instructions. If you’re stuck in a yoga class with a teacher who can’t express himself, you wouldn’t stay long.

Willingness to learn – yoga is about progress not only of the body but also of the mind and spirit. A true yoga teacher will recognize this and initiate his own learning. As his learning improves, so will yours.

Great yoga teachers have had some experience in teaching the discipline and are better equipped to handle a class with different personalities and needs. If you want to be sure, call the center and ask about the teacher’s qualifications. If he or she does have one, the center will be more than willing to provide you with the information.

Dip your feet first
It won’t hurt if you tried one or two sessions to see if the class and style of instruction is right for you. Your instructor’s personality will affect your enjoyment of and participation in your yoga class. Your fellow yoga students will also factor in. If you like the style and are comfortable with the yoga type being taught, then it might be a good idea to sign up for regular classes.

Don’t be shy to get up and leave
If your yoga class does nothing for you, then it’s all right to stop coming altogether. If you find out later on that there’s another class you want to join, don’t be shy about leaving. It’s a free country and yoga classes are about liberation. If there’s a better yoga class being taught by a better yoga teacher, you have no reason not to join it at all.