It’s rare nowadays to run into anyone who is not aware of the benefits of Yoga. Yoga is widely known for increasing flexibility, strengthening/ toning the body, reducing physical tension, weight loss, and improving balance and coordination. According to the Mayo Clinic, practicing yoga may help manage stress, improve sleep and decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety.
If you think the pace, temperature, or postures are beyond your body’s limitations (or in some cases, not challenging enough.) Don’t quit before you get started. There are many different styles to pick from, for all fitness levels and life situations. There’s an ideal match for everybody. Yoga is an individualized practice that should be done without judgment or comparison of yourself to others.
If you haven’t exercised in a while:
Beginners or Basic Yoga teaches the basic postures (asana) while easing you into a regular yoga practice. This level class guides you through the correct alignments so you work skillfully and safely within the limits of your body. Even though done at a slower pace, you still attain flexibility, relieve muscle tension and find relaxation and peace of mind. Modifications can be offered to allow you to do what’s right for your body. Many local studios offer Beginner or Basic level classes.
If you are recovering from an injury, surgery, or have physical limitations:
Gentle Yoga uses slower stretching without putting too much pressure on your body. Props (blankets, bolsters, blocks, etc.) provide support during long holds, allowing gravity to do most of the work. Gradually, the more you move, the more comfortable your muscles and joints feel. Most of the postures can be done lying down or sitting in a chair, depending on your needs. This is truly a relaxing and rejuvenating experience enjoyed at all levels and ages. Classes in this category include Restorative, Chair, Senior, Yin Yoga, or Yoga Nidra.
If you are pregnant:
Prenatal Yoga not only supports your body’s growth and changes, but it also allows you to connect with your unborn baby on a deeper level before they enter the world! One piece of advice: As the pregnancy progresses there are positions that are not safe for the baby, such as a tight twist or lying on your back for extended periods; therefore it is essential for expecting mothers to attend a class specifically tailored for them. Prenatal Yoga contributes to better sleep, maintaining correct posture, and preparing you for delivery.
Breathing techniques (pranayama), meditation, and concentration facilitate labor and delivery. Practicing yoga promotes physical and emotional healing during the postpartum phase.
If you’ve recently had a baby:
Mommy and Baby Yoga incorporate core work, stretching, baby massage, and toning by often using your baby’s weight for resistance. These postures can help mom and baby boost their strength, coordination, and body awareness while also promoting relaxation and better quality sleep. This is a great time to reconnect with your body while bonding with your baby. Dads are also invited! For older children, Kids Yoga classes and Yoga Camps introduce a new form of activity that improves balance and coordination and instills techniques that foster a steady mind and body when confronted with life’s challenges.
If you lead an active lifestyle and want a challenge:
Consider Vinyasa Yoga, which uses more advanced postures, increasing body heat, breath/movement coordination, and at a faster pace. These classes are designed for “all levels” however, some Yoga experience is recommended. Using your body weight for toning, stamina, balance, and weight loss, Vinyasa Yoga helps release toxins and stimulating blood flow throughout the body. Classes in this category include Flow, Power, or Heated/Hot Yoga.
Article Submitted by:
MALINDA HOUSE-D'ANGELOMalinda is a 2008 graduate of Yoga Pura’s 500-hour Advanced Studies & Teacher Training. Through the practice of asana (physical postures), pranayama (breathing techniques), and meditation, she radiates a profound physical and mental peace. Teaching from her heart, her students carry with them tools and benefits that transcend their daily lives.
Her article originally appeared I Am Modern magazine.