It seems like everyone is doing yoga these days. There are yoga classes, yoga retreats and yoga workshops. However, not all yoga instructors are created equal. Certification for yoga instruction can be a lengthy process, filled with training and actual teaching hours and even exams. After the initial requirements are satisfied, however, it’s important an instructor keeps abreast of the most up-to-date information.
While a yoga class may be available on every street corner, you should do a little homework before you sign up and commit. Yoga is a powerful exercise practice that can profoundly impact your entire life when taught and practiced correctly. You don’t want to waste time with anyone but the best.
The Physical Benefits of Yoga
Yoga is well known for increasing strength, tone and flexibility. However, the physical benefits go well beyond these familiar advantages. Thanks to the relaxation techniques taught and practiced in yoga, it can also successfully manage chronic pain, such as arthritis.
Because of the emphasis placed on proper respiration and ever-increasing flexibility, many people don’t realize that those who practice yoga on a regular basis are also less likely to suffer from injuries.
The Mental Benefits of Yoga
The mental benefits of yoga are every bit as compelling as the physical. Yoga combines the discipline of concentration with the physical practice of yoga, and the result is pretty astounding. Yoga has been known to mitigate the effects of stress, which impacts not only mental health but eventually physical as well.
As concentration, breathing and focus become more natural and consequently more effective, it’s very typical to experience increased self-awareness. The long-term benefits of self-awareness are difficult to pinpoint because there are so many. They extend from better mental health to healthier relationships and everything in between.
A Note to Beginners
If you’re new to yoga, there are a few things you should know before you start looking for a studio and an instructor. First of all, there are many different types of yoga, and not all are beginner friendly.
As you begin your journey, you will hear words like Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Iyengar and Bikram. The important thing to know is that these are types of yoga. With unique features and different aims, each one is distinct.
Trying out classes in your city is the best way to learn which type of yoga best suits you. Below, we’ve cataloged some ways to find the best instructors and studios in town.
You can search for classes by country, state, or city. Beyond that, you can also locate yoga workshops or retreats. If one day you decide you’d like to become an instructor yourself, you can use Yoga Finder to find teacher training centers.
Another good way to see what is available near you is to download the Yelp app and search for yoga. The exceptionally helpful thing about this is Yelp is an online treasure trove of detailed and totally honest reviews.
Perusing the dozens, hundreds or even thousands of reviews should give you an excellent picture of each studio or instructor.
Most yoga studios offer new students a week of free classes. This allows you to explore your options. Feel out the different styles of various instructors, and decide if yoga is something to which you are ready to commit.
Many gyms also employ yoga instructors. If you have a monthly membership, you are likely entitled to various classes as part of your membership fees. If not, give your local gym a call and see if they offer a free class to those wanting to check out the gym and their classes.
Developing a yoga practice will impact your health, both physically and mentally. While there is no shortage of yoga studios and instructors, signing up for the first studio to cross your path isn’t the best way to go about exploring this path.
Instead, take some time to learn a little bit about yoga, especially the different types one can practice. Sign up for some free classes. Most importantly, don’t commit until you’ve found an instructor with whom you mesh. You want someone whose teaching style matches your learning style. You want someone who will take the time to bring you into the fullness of the practice. It will be worth it.
How about you? Have you taken a yoga class before? What made you quit or stick with it? Let us know in the comments.