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Finding a Yoga Class That's Right for You

Now that yoga has become more popular, it's easy to find all kinds of classes, and not just in studios devoted exclusively to the practice. They're also offered in dance studios, gyms, health clubs, community centers, and senior centers.

What's important is to find the right yoga style for you and a teacher you like. Be aware that you really can't know what a class is like until you attend it. Even when two teachers use the same names to describe their classes, the classes may be quite different.

Types of yoga

Depending on your interest, you may be most comfortable in one of the following yoga classes. If you haven't been exercising regularly, be sure to check with your doctor before beginning any yoga or other exercise program.

Hatha Yoga

This form of yoga, the most popular in the United States, involves physical postures (called asanas) and breathing techniques (called pranayama). These two practices form the bulk of Hatha yoga—the yoga of force—which emphasizes strengthening and purifying the body.

Iyengar Yoga

This style of yoga concentrates on alignment and is fluid and dancelike. It uses props such as wooden blocks, straps, chairs, bolsters, and blankets to help students achieve and hold postures they otherwise couldn't assume.

Ashtanga Yoga

This kind of yoga is sometimes called Ashtanga Vinyasa or Power Yoga. It's intense and fast-paced, designed to build endurance and strength. Participants perform a series of postures in one continuous, flowing movement. The motions are linked with breathing patterns.

Bikram Yoga

Bikram Yoga involves a set sequence of 26 postures that are usually practiced twice per session. Standing and balance poses come first, followed by back bends, forward bends, and twisting postures.

One element that distinguishes this form of yoga from many others is that it's done in a very hot room.

Restorative Yoga

Restorative Yoga is different from other practices because it eliminates the active postures, instead focusing on the relaxation part of yoga.

Kripalu Yoga

This type of yoga is attractive to people who want a gentler, slower-moving style of yoga—something between restorative yoga and the more vigorous forms.