Even before you can begin to search for the right yoga
teacher, it’s important to have a good understanding of what yoga really is and
whether it is something that actually appeals to you.
If you’ve seen or attended a class at a gym, you’ll have
noticed that it’s not a religion or cult although some teachers may
occasionally include some chanting to help instil calm and focus in the mind.
You may also have noticed that it can be quite rigorous and
tough and not the easy, breezy, stretch and relax class that most guys assume
it to be.
There is a lot of information flying around out there but
it’s not easy to be clear on just what exactly yoga is. Did you know that it’s
estimated to have originated in India between five and eight thousand years
What we understand as being yoga in the West is actually
only the preparatory part of the whole practice, and is called Hatha Yoga. This
is the physical process of bringing about unity and harmony, strength and
flexibility, steadiness and balance within the body and mind through the
breath, movement and stillness. Later on this could lead to more meditative
practices, should one be so inclined.
In short, Yoga could be said to be the pursuit of a healthy
mind in a healthy body, interacting in healthy ways within the world and with
Which style of yoga would
Very few people are aware that yoga has an extremely diverse
range of varying styles and practices.
There are presently nine internationally recognized styles and more than
three hundred various others.
To keep it simple, I classify two main forms that Yoga
takes. These can be described as ‘Active’ and ‘Therapeutic’.
Characteristically, active styles of yoga are more aerobic.
Classes are generally set to music and poses are linked to and follow on from
one another in orderly sequences. The result is often a good hot sweat and in
some studios the room is even heated to enhance the benefits. Less emphasis is
placed on the precise execution of poses, but quite a lot is placed on the
breath. Examples you might see on a studio timetable are most commonly
‘Ashtanga’, ‘Vinyasa’, ‘Power’, ‘Hot’ and ‘Flow’.
Therapeutic styles are usually much slower but by no means
any less challenging. Poses are held for extended periods of time and emphasis
is placed on proper alignment, often involving the use of props and aids. The
techniques employed are especially beneficial during recovery from injury or
illness. Classic examples you’ll encounter are ‘Iyengar’ and ‘Bikram’.
Some styles fall somewhere in between these two and will
include some flowing sequences interspersed with long holds and deep stretches,
sometimes accompanied by music. You might see ‘Hatha’, ‘Sivananda’ or
‘Kundalini’ on a timetable in this case.
Google is your friend! Definitely look up the different
styles you hear about or take the plunge and just try them!
Gyms often don’t differentiate, which is unfortunate. Tell
the manager at your health club!
Talk to your friends
It’s out there! It’s popular! You may feel like a freak for
even considering it but you may also be surprised at how many friends know
something you didn’t, and have been dying to share.
People are often shy or intimidated by approaching their yoga teacher. This may either be a sign
that you’ve found the wrong one, or something to develop in yourself.
Your Yoga Teacher should be more than an aerobics
instructor. He or she is there to help you move forward and the more you are
able to share, the more your teacher will be able to cater to your needs. You
need not tell your teacher your life story. Even, “I liked that sequence” or
“that pose felt wrong to me”, is somewhere to start.
Approach as many as you can find and when you’ve found
someone that you feel better for talking to, that’s the teacher for you!
Visit Sambhoga Yoga
for more information.