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Choosing the Right Style of Yoga & Teacher

…so you’ve decided to take your health, fitness and life into your own hands and begin a yoga practice, that’s why you are checking out Alchemise Yoga & Wellbeing Studio, right? But when you finally sat down at your computer to find your very first, suitable yoga class you came across a barrage of words like Hatha, Vinyasa, Astanga, Iyengar, Bikram, Budakon, Anusara,  Restorative, Pregnancy, Hot Yoga, Yoga Trapeze, Acro Yoga, Yin…some even have numbers like level  1,2,3, Beginner’s,  Improver’s,  Advanced,  one day, four weeks, six weeks, eight weeks… Wow, in actual fact, all you were looking for was YOGA.  This bombardment of information could  be enough to make you reconsider that great idea you had about starting yoga in the first place!

Now, you could just jump in with both feet and hope to hit-the-ground-running…which is kinda– what- I- did some 18 years ago.

Or, you could do it another way, maybe even a better way than what I did…

If I’m totally honest, when I first began yoga I made my decisions based on which day suited my timetable best, which was the least expensive and closest to where I lived, I paid no attention to any levels and I most certainly didn’t even think about making a connection with the person who was going to be teaching me! I had absolutely not the first idea about styles! I just rolled along to my small village class, plonked myself down in between all the old gals and had absolutely no idea what to expect (apart from my very mislead ideas of it being all about stretching, not moving very much and mostly sleeping!) I went back to that class three times – which I thought was a fair try. Come on, I’d given it a go!

Luckily for me, there was still a little voice that said ‘try somewhere else’. I then found myself a short, beginner’s Hatha yoga course and thought this would be it…It wasn’t. I couldn’t ‘get it’ I kept laughing (out loud). Those tincha bells gave me the giggles and you know what it’s like when the giggles start during meditation! I wasn’t feeling in-love with yoga yet.

Luckily for me, there was a little voice inside which said ‘try a different teacher’ so I did but I never warmed -up in those classes, my mind was racing around and my body wasn’t doing very much. Plus, people weren’t so friendly there…so I gave up, thinking it was much better for me to go running, do body combat,  body attack, body step, go biking, have a personal trainer, you name it, all of it, I tried it! I don’t think a single rock went unturned.

Then one day, bingo, I landed in a yoga class (and I liked it!) The style was great, the music was cool, my body was warm, I had fun, the teacher was nice and the people in the class were lovely. My yoga love affair had finally begun!

It actually took me four teachers before I found a style, a great group of people and a teacher I connected with. Could I have done it differently? YES!

I could have looked into styles of yoga, researched levels and even emailed the teacher or studio first to get-a-feel of the person. And what to expect.

When we begin something new (whatever that is), it takes time for that new habit to become established, a minimum of eight weeks so the professionals say. When there are so many styles of yoga, levels and teachers out there, all with their own unique spin, it may help to know what you’re looking for…You may have injuries or be recovering from illness and decide a gentle, restorative class or a focus on alignment  is for you but there you are in a level 3 Vinyasa Flow class! You may be used to hard workouts and want a dynamic practice but there you are with bolsters, covers and eye –bags or with your legs up a wall. You may have just been expecting to meditate…Who knows.

Like getting a quote for your new car, kitchen, holiday or utilities provider, it pays to do your research and even shop around until you find what you’re looking for. At the least, try.  Then when you do find the right teacher, style, place and time, go for it! Stick with it, yoga is a discipline so it requires you to commit to getting to know it.

Do some basic research so your first experience of yoga is a good one, rather than funny, frustrating, scary, fast, slow, hot, and cold or anything else.

Figure out what you want. Some classes are acrobatic in nature while some classes are Thai yoga or therapeutic in nature. Do you want pranayama (breathing techniques), meditation, healthy healing alignment or a fast-paced work-out? Find out what the styles offer you.

Be honest about your level to start with, especially if you really do want to continue with yoga. In yoga, it’s not always about being strong or flexible (it’s both). Even if you came in feeling strong and flexible you may be looking around the class when the teacher starts talking in Sanskrit. Really, how could we possibly take a more advanced class if we don’t know the names of basic poses.  When we start at the beginning, we have the benefits of laying down the foundations and not getting overloaded with yoga language and instructions.

Don’t stop after one session, give it a couple of months (if you like the teacher, style and class). Each class I teach is similar in many ways (as in the format of the class) but each class is also different (as in the body parts and categories of poses we work with) some weeks may focus on backbends, while other weeks may be hip openers. If your first week happens to be when we are doing hip-openers and you have tight hips and hamstrings you may not like it as much as being in a back bend, forward fold or inversions class.

Just like chips you need more than one to get a good taste of them! Get a taste for it. Yoga is a discipline which usually results with your body understanding it before your head does! Keep trying it! After years of practicing yoga now, I still read about the teachers and learn about what they are offering so that I know if my body and if I am going to stand a chance of liking it.

As we practice yoga we learn to tap into our resources of wisdom and power. We feel confident  (if we want to)to rest in child’s pose while everyone else is in warrior II. Taking a little time to choose a class, a style and a teacher that is right for our needs means we are actively participating in our life-style choices, that is already an empowering process to go through and is far more likely to build a practice of yoga that you fully engage in and love, life-long.

My name is Wendy and I teach a blend of dynamic Form and Flow Yoga, infused with savvy, Principles of Alignment which heal the body. I include Tantric philosophy which is uplifting from a Tantrika perspective and I encourage the joys of kula (community and friendship). I teach with themes which help us to connect with ourselves and ultimately participate in a more caring way towards ourselves and others too. Other times my classes have playful inspiration gained from AcroYoga, Other times classes may be more therapeutic and quieting in nature. Sometimes classes will be slower, enquiring and grounding, or they may be flowing, dynamic and uplifting, ultimately my classes bring us into greater balance. Of our mind, body, breath and eventually life.

We always centre ourselves at the beginning of a class, set an intention for the class and bring a theme into the session. We practice asana (yoga postures) and get warm, we practice breathing techniques which improve lung capacity and help to calm the nervous system down, we meditate and we relax at the end of the session to assimilate all of the new learning into the wisdom of our body. I have great fun teaching yoga. I wish you fun in choosing your yoga class and style and if you decide to any of us at the studio would love to teach you yoga too!

With great love and light, Wendy xxx