More than 36 million people practiced yoga in 2016, according to a Yoga Alliance and Yoga Journal study. If you’d like to become one of them, we’ve put together a primer with the help of Andrew Tanner, chief ambassador for Yoga Alliance. His No. 1 piece of advice? “Look for a studio near you, particularly one where you can take a private lesson,” he said. “It’s a great way to get feedback.”
These classes move slowly, and incorporate lots of breath work and props. Tanner recommends beginners start with gentle classes, which usually have names like Restorative, Hatha or Yin yoga.
This is vigorous yoga, flowing from pose to pose with few rest periods in between, sometimes practiced in heated rooms. Look for names like Vinyasa, Ashtanga or Prana flow classes.
In Iyengar and Forrest yoga classes, poses are held for longer periods with an emphasis on proper alignment. Teachers often incorporate props like belts, blankets and blocks.
Hot yoga is done in a room heated to over 88 degrees. It’s generally good for people with muscle tightness, Tanner said. There’s also Bikram yoga, which involves 26 postures and takes place in a 102-degree room. (Bring a towel and lots of water!)
Yoga Fit classes, which place more emphasis on poses that strengthen, fall into this category. They usually don’t use Sanskrit terms or chanting, either – it’s much more of a physical exercise, Tanner said.
These classes focus on breathing and mantras, and often involve spiritual and philosophical elements. Look for Hatha, Kundalini and Sivananda styles.