Learning yoga can improve your quality of life. Yoga is not just a form of exercise, it incorporates the body, mind, and spirit. Practising yoga teaches mindfulness, stress reduction, flexibility, awareness of breath, and poses for physical strength.

Whether you have a passion for yoga or you’re recently interested in learning more about the practice, yoga will help you master your everyday life, and teach you how to live in the moment.

There are many different types of yoga and yoga lessons can vary depending on your goals and intentions.

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What Type of Yoga Class Is Right For You?

There are numerous types of yoga classes available across Canada, from intensive hot yoga to relaxing restorative yoga. How do you determine which yoga class is right for you? The answer to this question depends heavily on your individual goals.

Each style of yoga has unique benefits. Yin yoga or restorative yoga is excellent for athletes who want to recover and improve muscle fatigue on rest days. Vinyasa yoga is ideal for students hoping to connect their mind and body in a series of synchronized breathing techniques.

Before you commit to a particular style of yoga, you should decide how much you want to challenge yourself.

Beginner Yoga Lessons

Yoga lessons for beginners are often advertised as “beginner classes” or “accessible for all levels” on a yoga studio’s website.

Intermediate and expert-level classes expect that students are familiar with a variety of common “asanas”, otherwise known as poses. A beginner class will usually walk students through the asanas individually before offering a more complex yoga sequence.

Gyms and fitness studios that offer numerous classes, such as yoga, pilates, spin, and aerobics, will likely host beginner classes that appeal to the masses and are suitable for all levels. 

If you’re new to yoga and you don’t want to commit to an annual membership at a yoga-only studio, start by trying a few classes at your local gym.

Learn what to expect from your yoga lessons with our guide to yoga classes.

Lotus Pose is a basic yoga pose.
Lotus Pose is one of the basic yoga poses taught by Hatha Yoga. Photo credit: Lαin via Visual Hunt

Yoga for Stress Management

The original umbrella term for yoga practices is “Hatha”. Hatha includes the physical practice of yoga but physicality is only one piece of the entire puzzle. Hatha yoga also includes the following:

  • Asana: the practice of yoga poses
  • Pranayama: intentional breathing exercises
  • Bandhas: energy “locks” used during pranayama
  • Mudras: hand gestures used in yoga meditation
  • Kriyas: cleansing exercises for overall well-being

Combining physical yoga poses, breathing exercises, lifestyle choices and energy healing to your practice is a holistic approach to manage stress and improve your life. Breathing exercises alone are an excellent tool to pull the emergency brake on the “fight or flight” stress response that’s activated by high cortisol in the body.

If you struggle to manage stress, starting a yoga practice could be a great way to become more resilient against stressful events and calm anxiety.

Practising Yoga When You Are Pregnant

The benefits of yoga are beneficial for expectant moms. Practising yoga during pregnancy helps strengthen your muscles, particularly the back, the abdominal wall, and the pelvic floor.

Yoga is also good for learning proper breathing techniques. Many soon-to-be mothers use pranayama or breathing exercises to prepare for a smooth labour. 

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Prenatal yoga to stay fit during pregnancy.
Prenatal yoga classes help expecting mothers prepare for labour. Photo credit: pasa47 via Visualhunt.com

Yoga can help if you are feeling nervous about giving birth.

A special Prenatal Yoga class is often proposed to expectant mothers. This type of yoga helps with your:

  • Overall flexibility
  • Breathing techniques
  • Managing fluctuating moods
  • Overcoming physical pain 

Be gentle with yourself. If you’re practicing yoga while pregnant, stretch your body within your comfort zone and protect yourself from injury.

There are numerous institutes and yoga centres that offer this type of yoga course for pregnant women.

Practising Yoga for Exercise

If you’re hoping to engage in yogic practices to build muscle tone, improve balance, and increase flexibility, you may want to opt for Power Yoga.

Power Yoga is a style of yoga that primarily focuses on toning. Yoga can build strength and even be aerobic. Flowing quickly from one pose to the next can help you work up a sweat.

Vinyasa Yoga, derived from Ashtanga Yoga, is a form of yoga that focuses on breathing and synchronization. The movements are very rhythmic and flow together in a specific choreography.

You can let off some physical steam while working on muscle control. It is best to be in fair physical condition to be able to truly profit from its benefits. This style is also good for weight loss.

Learning Yoga for Meditation

Do you want to learn how to meditate? Meditation is a practice where an individual focuses the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity to achieve mental clarity and stability.

During certain meditations, the individual may focus on the breath and for others, the person may focus on an activity such as yoga. When you completely immerse yourself in your yoga practice you may enter a peaceful meditative state.

Traditional yoga used the physical practice of yoga to stretch the body in preparation for traditional seated meditations. 

Meditation is an integral part of yoga practice. It is just as important as flexibility and breathing.

Meditation allows you to:

  • Improve concentration and focus
  • Increase attention and awareness
  • Enhance mindfulness in everyday life
  • Reduce stress levels
  • Boost your energy and creativity

Not all yoga poses are optimized for meditation. Kripalu Yoga (which means “to be compassionate”), is one of the best styles for fostering mindfulness. This sort of wisdom you will slowly acquire over the course of your sessions with your new yoga teacher.

Kripalu Yoga for meditation.
Kripalu Yoga helps you learn meditation techniques that will help you master your everyday life. Photo credit: Sole Treadmill via VisualHunt.com

Practising Advanced Yoga

Just like Vinyasa Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga is a very physical form of yoga. It requires the individual to be flexible, agile, and knowledgeable about the specific sequence of asanas.

It is considered the most traditional of all the yoga types.

It imposes a specific series of movements repeated several times.

Ashtanga Yoga sessions last 90 minutes and involve complex asanas suited for intermediate and advanced students. There are several Youtube videos that teach you the necessary poses to prepare you for your first visit to an Ashtanga yoga class.

Should You Take Classes in a Yoga Studio or With a Private Yoga Coach?

Once you have chosen the best yoga style for you, you need to decide what type of yoga lesson you want to take. Some prefer to go to a yoga centre while others prefer private lessons.

What are the advantages of each of them?

Advantages of yoga courses at a studio

If you live in a big city like Toronto, Montreal, or Vancouver, it’s usually easy to find highly rated and regarded yoga studios. If you don’t know where to start, a lot of gyms and exercise studios offer weekly courses.

It’s a great opportunity to practise yoga regularly with an experienced yoga teacher.

Yoga institutes offer rooms.
Most yoga studios have better rooms for yoga lessons than this Navy ship.
Photo credit: Official U.S. Navy Imagery via Visual hunt

Yoga studios are the best places to learn and practice yoga. It’s also possible to start learning yoga at home through online tutorials. However, learning yoga in a group also has the benefit of connecting you with a yogic community.

Advantages of private classes

Choosing a private yoga tutor has numerous advantages, such as learning at your own pace and receiving individual direction and adjustments. Deciding on a private yoga teacher lets you set up your appointments directly and fit yoga into your busy schedule.

Choosing a private yoga lesson allows you to be selective about your instructor and find the right fit for you. Platforms like Superprof allow prospective students to consult each tutor’s profile to find the one that best meets their wants and needs.

Connecting with your teacher is one of the key elements to succeeding at your private yoga courses. A private yoga teacher will also better be able to concentrate on improving your posture and encouraging your progression.

Private lessons can also be financially advantageous. Some of the teachers on Superprof allow you to try out the first lesson for free, or even get a sort of stamp card for 10 yoga lessons at a better price.

You can also opt for online yoga classes via webcam and learn yoga from international teachers. The world is your yoga studio!

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Teri

Teri is a freelance writer based in Toronto. She enjoys travelling to new corners of the globe, unwinding in a yoga class, and focusing on self-improvement through continued education and learning.