By Kristen Mucci-Mosier
The beauty of yoga is, like brands of shampoo, there are different kinds for each taste preference and desire. Depending on what's available in your community, options can range from "power yoga," which often includes a fast-paced flow of sequences (sometimes called vinyasa) with intermittent challenging holds to Kundalini yoga, which focuses more on breath work and mantras.
What are you looking to achieve from your yoga class?
Are you looking for a good workout to enhance your overall fitness routine? Perhaps power, Ashtanga or a vinyasa flow yoga class would be best for you. These classes are faster paced and often more physically demanding. If you like it hot, try Bikram or hot yoga. Make sure to listen to your body in these classes, so as to not overdo it and hurt yourself.
Do you want to increase your connection to your breath while exercising and achieving stress relief? Most yoga practices aim at connecting the body to the breath, but if you're just starting out, try hatha or restorative class for a slower-paced flow that will help you to get the hang of it. Kripalu yoga aims at achieving stress relief by observing the sensations in your body (I love this type of practice for an early morning class).
Are you coping with a chronic condition or injury that you think yoga can help with? A slow-paced restorative yoga could be good for you, but the most important thing is to talk to your yoga teacher about whatever specific needs you might have.
Are you looking for a place to get in touch with your spirituality and connect with others? Classes that incorporate prayers and mantras might be best for you. For example, Naam combines Kundalini yoga with the principles of Kabalah. It combines movement, pranayam (rhythmic breathing) and mudras (hand positions). I recently had the pleasure of taking a class and was able to chat with Naam instructor Kelley Black who talked about what she sees as the benefits of this type of practice. "Naam yoga provides the just-in-time technology that enables the practitioner to adapt to constant change, embrace ambiguity, as well as recalibrate careers, health, business models and assumptions about what it takes to thrive, not merely survive in the age of information overload."
Choosing the right yoga class can depend on a lot of things, even your mood. Some days, I like to challenge myself with more strenuous flows, and other days, I like to breathe and just roll around on the floor a bit. But whatever choice I make, I always go home feeling like a new person.
Click here to learn more about the healing benefits of yoga.