You don’t need much to get started with yoga. All you need are some comfortable clothes that allow you to have full range of movement and an open space that will do the same. That being said, signing up with a yoga school puts you in a position of great advantage.
To start, you don’t have to worry about trying to figure out the more complicated poses on your own. Even the basic ones can sometimes be a bit tricky if you try to do them all by yourself! Furthermore, trying to teach yourself yoga without the help of a professional can result in poor technique. In some cases, you even risk injury.
At a yoga school, or rather, a “yoga studio”, experienced instructors guide you through each position, telling you where your hands and feet should be placed and how exactly you should feel your muscles stretching. Depending on the form of yoga being practiced, the teacher may even go around the class and manually adjust students to make sure everyone is learning each position safely and correctly.
A lot of yoga studios also have multiple teachers and offer different types of class levels— sometimes even different types of yoga. In addition to mats, many schools also have yoga “props” like blocks, stretch bands, benches and more. These are used for stretching and for added help with certain positions (and they can actually be pretty expensive if you buy them yourself).
While everyone starts out a beginner, have options to learn more positions and advance your technique can be integral in making yoga a permanent part of your life. Starting off with yoga DVDs or a list of positions on the Internet can be great, but a school can teach you far more than these other sources can.
But of course, not all yoga schools are equal. But because yoga can become such an important part of life with regular practice, it is imperative that you feel welcome and at ease every time you go to class. So, what should you be looking for?
First things first: you need to decide what type of yoga you would like to practice (see the ones listed in “What is Yoga?”). Not every yoga studio will offer all forms of yoga, and some will even focus on just one of them. Professional yoga schools should have information available for their courses, including the level of difficulty for each.
Price is the next factor that needs to be considered. Most people these days are on a budget, and fortunately most yoga schools understand that. Ask about their different payment options, as well as any upcoming deals they may have.
Many gyms and community centers also offer yoga classes. However, it is important to make sure that the instructors are professionally trained. For example, at some gyms the yoga teacher may actually be a trainer who teaches primarily Zumba and other fitness classes.
Their knowledge of yoga may be limited, and the space the class is in may not have the equipment needed for certain poses. So, it is important to find out the details before signing up for any yoga class.
Once you find a place that charges reasonably and presents itself as professional, ask if you are able to try a class out without being committed to a full set of them. The personality of the instructor and the class environment can be huge factors in determining both your enjoyment of yoga and your success with it. The last thing you want to do is sign up for a series of expensive classes only to find out that it doesn’t meet your needs.