I really believe that you have the same chance of passing gas while playing basketball, lifting weights, sleeping, or doing ANY activity as you do while practicing yoga. It just might be more noticeable if you let one rip in a quiet yoga class… Yoga in itself will not make you gassy. If you already are gassy, certain poses (like bending forward) will make it hard to hold in. It happens once in a while- it’s natural and life goes on! Please don’t let this keep you from trying yoga.
As a good friend and fellow yoga teacher
once put it, “Saying that you are not flexible enough to do yoga is like saying that you are too dirty to shower.” Yoga is a great way to increase flexibility, especially if you are not flexible! You only have to stretch your body to the level that challenges it. With time and patience, your flexibility will increase.
There are many styles of yoga and not all are slow and gentle. Classes can be very intense and fast-paced, requiring body strength and focus. (See question 4 for more details on different styles!) If you think yoga is too “easy” for you, challenge yourself to bikram, ashtanga, or vinyasa. The mental focus and flexibility that you develop through practicing yoga will also improve your performance in any other physical activities that you enjoy.
Have fun trying different things until you find the right fit! Read class descriptions, ask the studio for suggestions, and try different instructors until you find what’s best for you. When you find your style and your teacher, you’ll know! Here is a short run down of some different styles. Hopefully this will help you find the best fit for you.
Vinyasa (My favorite!)
Also known as “Vinyasa flow” or simply “flow,” these classes can seem lyrical in the way that poses are linked together in connection with the breath. Most classes will begin with Sun Salutations, and the rest of the sequenced poses during class will vary depending on the style of the instructor. This style will suit those who are ready to move!
Restorative (My other favorite!)
Restorative yoga nurtures the body through deep relaxation. This is a great class to take at the end of a busy day, if you feel yourself starting to develop a cold, if you’re having trouble sleeping, or at any time that you want to rest your body and mind. During class, you will only go through a handful of poses, most of which will be lying down or seated. Blankets, eye pillows, blocks, straps, and other props are also commonly used to aid in comfort and relaxation.
Bikram is practiced in 105 degree heat, so lose the sweater! Besides the extra challenge it presents, the heat and humidity will also help to loosen up muscles and guide you to deeper stretching. Bikram classes will always consist of the same 26 poses, which can provide good structure for beginners who are willing to stand the heat. The set sequence will also help students track their progress as they continue their practice.
This may be a good class for beginners to start with, as most Hatha yoga classes are slow-paced with gentle movements. Many different poses are introduced throughout class with a focus on breath work.
The term “kundalini” refers to the powerful energy of the Root chakra (energy center), which is located at the base of the spine. The Root chakra is representative of our foundation and a sense of being grounded. Kundalini yoga classes can be intense with work centered on the core and spine with ample meditation time. By opening up the area of the body associate with the Root chakra, we are able to unleash the vast potential connected with that energy center.
This powerful practice involves a set sequence of poses. It is very physically demanding, with constant movement and strong upper body work. If you enjoy a challenge and are ready to be pushed to your limit, try one of these classes!
Iyengar yoga has a strong emphasis on body alignment within poses. Class will often incorporate several props to guide the body into proper alignment. Iyengar is a more technical and methodical practice than others.
Anusara means “flowing with Grace” in Sanskrit.This is a newer style of Hatha yoga. These classes typically have a spiritual focus, with a positive and uplifting community feel to them. The gentle movements and friendly environment can create a welcoming setting for those new to yoga.
You don’t have to do anything in yoga (or in life) that you don’t want to do. Chanting om at the end of class is a way of sealing the practice. The sound of om is believed to encompass all sounds that exist in the universe. Sound is a vibration. At the smallest and most basic level, everything and everyone is made of vibrations. The sound of om is said to vibrate at a frequency that balances and heals the vibrations that create our being. Even if you don’t feel comfortable chanting om, you will benefit from having the sound reverberate around you. Join if you like, and otherwise just know that it’s doing you good!
It might be intimidating to attend a yoga class for the first time, but it’s simply something you have to get over. You will miss out on all the benefits that you can get from yoga if you never try. Don’t be so rough on yourself- everyone was a beginner at some point! During class, others will be too preoccupied with their own self-consciousness or so deep into their practice that they won’t be paying attention to you. Stay in the back of the class or ask a buddy to come with you if that makes you more comfortable. Be brave! Remember your intention of practicing yoga to increase well-being and let that motivate you.