Yoga for Beginners: What's the best class to take?

Yoga for Beginners: What's the best class to take?

From Ashtanga to Yin Yoga and Hip Hop Cardio, there's dozens of different styles of yoga. Chef V has tons of experience practicing and teaching yoga. Here, she recommends the best types of yoga for beginners.

Many people know me as a chef, of course, as well as author and nutritional therapist. But I also have an extensive yoga background. In fact, I’m a certified yoga instructor.

Yoga is so good for you on so many different levels. It is one of the safest types of exercise you can suggest to family, and even the most out of shape friend can gently find a path to better health.

But many people who are new are overwhelmed with all the different types and dizzying amount of yoga information and classes and never take the healthy step and attend a class.

For you and yours, I have some advice….

Best Class for Absolute Beginners

Don’t know a downward dog from a cat/cow? Scared to bend and twist into a pretzel pose. No worries, there’s a yoga style that’s perfect for you. Many gyms like LA Fitness or your local YMCA offer gentle yoga classes. In a gentle yoga class, you won’t feel intimidated surrounded by hyper-flexible, rail-thin advanced yoginis.

Gentle classes are also great for advanced practitioners. Without doubt though, most people who take gentle yoga classes are beginners or those with physical limitations. The great thing about gentle classes is that you really don’t need to be an expert to feel like you’re getting a good workout.

That’s because when you focus on your breath, you can really move a lot of energy through your body. I’ve taken gentle classes and felt an out of this world experience at the end of the class. Your mind feels clear and your body tingles with great energy.

When you try poses that are too difficult, you have a tendency to not breath. That’s why it’s super important that you pick a gentle or introductory class so that you can focus on breathing steady, not on how deeply you can stretch into a pose.

Best Class for Athletic Beginners

Never taken a class but you can easily do 20 pushups followed by 20 jump jacks? Give a Vinyasa class a try. “Vinny” is usually a flow sequence, meaning that one pose logically progresses into another flow. With the exception of a few go-within meditative breathing breaks, a Vinny class is continuous. That’s why it’s not recommended if you’re really out of shape.

For some beginners, Vinny’s fast pace can be overwhelming. However, if you need a breather, nobody will judge you for taking a break. Simply rest in child’s pose (sit on your knees, with your knees hip-width apart and fold over stretching your arms). This is true of any class you choose.

Best Class for Emotional Recovery

Let’s say you just went through a rough break up. Or lost your job. Or something else traumatic. Any type of yoga can help you keep your center. But perhaps the best type of yoga for periods of extreme stress is a Restorative class.

In this rejuvenating class you hardly move. Instead, you use blankets, pillows, blocks and other props and stay in gentle poses for long periods of time. Remember I mentioned the parasympathetic nervous system? When you’re really stressed, you’re activating the opposite of your parasympathetic side, which is your sympathetic nervous system. Although sympathetic sounds nice, it’s not the sympathy you might be thinking about. On the contrary, your sympathetic nervous system is your flight or fight mechanisms. And when you’re going through a lot of turmoil, you don’t need more flight or fight. You need to rest and relax.

Best Class for Type A Personalities

One of the many health benefits of yoga is that this ancient discipline brings your life back into balance. But take a look at what many fast-paced, always on the go people do for exercise. Their exercise routines mirror their type A lifestyle. CrossFit, Mud Runs, intense spin classes, Iron Mans and other triathlons, etc….

Intense exercise is a form of stress. Stress is stress. Therefore, if your life is hectic, you need a Yin yoga for your Yang lifestyle. Try finding a class that’s moderately laid back and focuses on breathing. An introductory Hatha class will stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system. That’s your rest and digest operating system.

If you absolutely need a challenge, try an Ashtanga class. Theoretically, it might not be the best for a type A lifestyle but doing an athletic, advanced style of yoga is better than doing no yoga at all.

Best Yoga Class for Beginners: Conclusion

There are dozens of other types of classes. But these styles above have become very popular and there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find a class.

To your health,

Chef V