March 15, 2017
The Best Yoga Class for You

By @melburchyoga

It’s no question that yoga is a growing trend across the US. Thousands of Americans will try yoga for their first time this year. The question is, which class or type of yoga is best suited for a beginner?

The term “yoga” can be used to describe a) the most relaxing experience you could possibly imagine…or b) the most intense, sweaty, challenging and seemingly unbearable workout. How does a beginner differentiate between all the types available? The first thing to ask yourself is what you are trying to get out of the class. I think there seems to be a misconception that all yoga will be relaxing, and mainly stretching. Many people are surprised at how challenging many of the poses can be.

One of the things I love about the practice that I often tell my students, is that if you have a good instructor, a beginner should be able to walk into almost any class and leave feeling refreshed and without injury. This isn’t always the response people want to hear, so I have split up some common class types into three different categories.


The first category is great for all levels, but will be less intimidating for someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing. Key phrases or class titles to look for if you are searching for slow, stretch type classes are Yin, Restorative, Meditative, Relaxing, etc. These classes most likely incorporate dim lighting, candles, soft music, supportive props, and focus mainly on breath and relaxation of the body. A Yin class will move into deeper stretches and longer holds, so some intense sensations should be expected in these classes.


If you are looking for more movement or exercise but are not ready for a heated or power-based class, try something labeled Beginner, Hatha, Basic/Gentle Flow, or Kundalini. These classes will incorporate more standing and balance postures, encourage moving with the breath, and elevate the heart rate. Again, a good instructor will be able to explain most postures and modifications well enough to make a beginner feel comfortable in most positions.


This last category lists some examples of classes that you should expect to sweat in. Again, I firmly believe that “beginners” or someone that feels they have a “lower skill level” should be able to walk into these classes knowing that it’s challenging for everyone, but that they should still participate and do what they can. I always welcome and love having beginners in my Power Hour classes. These classes are high energy and tend to be the most FUN! Look for classes labeled Hot, Vinyasa, Flow, Power, Sculpt, or Bikram. You will receive the MOST detoxing, strengthening and opening benefits from these types of classes.

If this simple and basic guide doesn’t give you all the information you’re looking for, ask the instructor or studio owner for their recommendation. Most will be ready and willing to make their students feel confident in their decision to practice. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. Try let go of any preconceptions of your abilities and you may surprise yourself with what you can do!


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Melissa received her 200-hour Yoga Alliance teacher training certification in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and attributes much of her success to the instructors there. She has practiced and studied several types of yoga including Hatha, Yin, Ashtanga/Vinyasa, Hot/Bikram, Restorative, Kundalini and Flying yoga. Melissa is also the first instructor in Utah to develop full classes, trainings, and sequences using the yoga wheel, and has begun to take her wheel class training out of state. She mixes lots of strength building into her flow and balance postures, and her classes are always creative, fun and energetic! 



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