Finding the Right Yoga Class for You
By Susan Young, 500 hr. RYT Certified Yoga Instructor at DC Ranch Village
With the growing popularity of yoga, you may be thinking now is the time to start practicing. With all the styles of yoga offered you might not know where to begin. To help you in selecting the perfect yoga class, you may want to ask yourself some questions. Do you prefer a class with more movement or more stillness? Do you prefer practicing in a heated space with humidity or a room that is not as hot? Would you prefer doing the same sequence each class or prefer a different flow every time? The Village offers several different styles of yoga classes. We have two main studios where yoga classes are held: The Mind/ Body Studio and the Heated Studio.
The Mind/ Body Studio
As you enter The Mind/ Body Studio, you feel the calmness and peace all around you. The classes taught in this space include the importance of breath (pranayama in Sanskrit) in calming the body and mind. However, they achieve this differently. A Flow or Power Class links the breath with movement and is more active. A Stretch, Restorative or Meditative class finds the breath in stillness and is slower and more meditative.
Flow and Power Classes
If you prefer a class with more movement and are new to yoga, then a Basic Flow Class is a good place to start. This class links breath with movement as you flow from one pose or asana (the sanskrit name) to the next. It becomes a moving meditation that strengthens the body, increases flexibility, and calms the mind. A Yoga Flow Class will build upon a Basic Flow Class by introducing more challenging asanas and moving at a quicker pace. A Power Class will include even more poses that require strength. Expect more chaturangas (yoga push-ups) and options for arm balances.
All of these classes will vary from teacher to teacher, but they will often begin with sun salutations which links breath with movement to warm up and center the body for yoga practice.
Yoga Inspired Stretch, Restorative Yoga, Deep Stretch & Meditation, and Sound Meditation
If you prefer a quieter practice that promotes healing and relaxation, Stretch Classes, Restorative Classes and Mediation Classes might interest you. These classes have fewer asanas (poses), and you hold them for longer periods of time. Props such as straps, yoga blocks, blankets or bolsters are often used. These props help properly support your body as you are increasing your flexibility, healing and restoring the body. Restorative Classes are typically gentler. Poses are held for longer periods of time using props to offer support to the body as it releases tension. Yoga Inspired Stretch and Deep Stretch & Mediation both incorporate meditation throughout the class with the use of breath. These classes focus on increasing the flexibility in the connective tissues in the body which get tighter with age and physical activity.
Sound Meditation uses the frequency of Tibetan or Himalayan singing bowls, gong, or bells to help students enter deep relaxation and reduce physical pain. Additionally, Aerial Yoga allows students to use the support of silks to do inversions as well as improve flexibility and range of motion.
The Heated Studio offers similar classes to the Mind/ Body studio with the main difference being the addition of heat and humidity to aid with reducing tension and tightness in the body. For example, Warm Flow Classes, Heated Flow, The Village Heated Yoga Sequence, Yoga Sculpt and Heated Stretch Classes are all offered in the heated studio. The Village Heated Yoga Sequence was created by Village yoga teachers and differs from the other yoga classes offered as it is always the same sequence taught.
If you are unsure of how your body will react to practicing with heat, then the Warm Flow class or Heated Deep Stretch would be a good place to start as the heat is only slightly increased. If you gravitate towards heat and enjoy flowing from one pose to the next, then the Heated Flow class may appeal to you.
The Village Yoga Sequence
In this class students return to the same sequence of asanas to increase strength, flexibility and balance. If you like consistency, heat, and humidity, then the Village Yoga Sequence may be right up your ally.
Heated Yoga Sculpt
Heated Yoga Sculpt combines yoga with elements of a bootcamp style class. You will use your body weight as well as weights, bands, and other props to sculpt the body, increase strength, and become more toned.
Village yoga classes feature many different styles of yoga. Some days you might be more inclined to up the intensity and practice a power class in the heated studio. Contrarily, other days your body might need a deep stretch or a calming restorative practice. Try a variety of classes and see what resonates best for you. May you find the right styles of yoga for you!