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Yoga for Beginners: Choosing the Right Class--Relaxation and Spirituality

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While many beginners are drawn to yoga for its physical benefits, along the road most of us begin to recognize that there is much more to yoga than merely exercise. The mind-body connection is core to a yoga practice. The Sanskrit word “yoga” actually translates as “union,” which can be interpreted many ways, including a union of the mind and body.

When seeking a good fit in a yoga class, beginners might wonder what to look for and what questions to ask. The first step is to determine how open you are to the different aspects of yoga right off the bat. One of the main teachings of yoga is satya, or “truth”—and being truthful with yourself about what you’re willing to try right now. One of my yoga teachers once said, “Begin with where you are,” and that has always stuck with me. (Thank you, Kelly McGonigal!) Recognizing where you are, what makes you comfortable and what will allow you as an individual to feel great after a practice session.

It may be helpful to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Am I more interested in getting a good workout or having an opportunity to relax?
  2. Do I want a more energetic, fast-paced class or one that moves slowly?
  3. Am I drawn to routine (ie, a class where I know exactly what to expect) or variety and an element of surprise?
  4. Am I a spiritual person?
  5. Can I easily sit still, or is this challenging for me?
  6. What, initially, attracted me to the idea of yoga?

Once you’re honest about what you’re looking for as a starting point, exploring different class styles becomes a little bit easier. Should your initial focus be on the physical practice of yoga, you might try one of the styles of yoga classes described in this Yoga for Beginners article. If you are looking to begin with a more inwardly focused class, one of the following styles of yoga might appeal to you.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.