The Yoga Q&A

Your beginner yoga questions, answered!

If you’re new to, or simply curious about, yoga and meditation, don’t worry — you’re not alone. We receive many questions about yoga from our readers. Yoga Coach Tiffany Lord has some answers.

Why should I start yoga?

Yoga can serve many purposes, but most clients I see start practicing yoga to manage stress and improve mobility. Breathing, meditation, and poses are all under the yoga umbrella. Through these three modalities, you can access moments of calm throughout your day to reset your mind from the chaotic world, feel more present to enjoy your experiences and relationships, and find more balance within your body for better range of motion. If you want to build mental and/or physical resilience in any way, yoga may be a beneficial addition to your wellness plan!

What kinds of yoga classes are there, and how do I know which is best for me?

Between more traditional styles of yoga and some newer methods, there are too many to name. The most common are Vinyasa classes, which involve flowing between poses using the breath. Vinyasa Yoga can be slow or vigorous and with or without heat, depending on the studio. Then there’s Hot Yoga, usually a set of 26 postures done in a specific sequence in a heated, humid room. In a Yin class, you will hold postures for several minutes to affect meridians and deeper connective tissue through stretching. Restorative classes focus on relaxing the body in poses supported by props and hold those poses for several minutes without trying to stretch.

All sessions can be appropriate for you depending on your goals. Look for beginner sessions or contact the studio for a recommendation. Most importantly, listen to your body and let go of any pressure to do what everyone else is doing. If the pose doesn’t look like it will feel good in your body, opt out and discuss it with your instructor after class.

What do I do if I forget the names of the poses?

Practicing yoga is definitely learning a new language (or two) at first! Watch your instructor and listen to the cues they provide. Try them if they seem appropriate. If you feel lost, glance around the room to get an idea of the pose. Everyone in class has a different level of yoga experience and different musculoskeletal history. Allow yourself the opportunity to connect to what feels good and helpful in your body without comparing your pose to everyone else’s. It takes time to remember the names and alignment, so give yourself a break and have fun with it.

Should I wear a certain type of clothing to a yoga class? 

I always recommend you wear what is comfortable, but there are a few things to consider when dressing for your class. If you’re going to a heated studio, wear clothing that allows you to sweat and not get overheated. Also consider the amount of movement you’ll be doing. For classes with more stillness, like Yin or Restorative, you can opt for layers to stay warm as it’s common to feel cooler as you rest in these postures. In flowing classes, you may want more fitted clothing so it’s not shifting as you invert or transition between poses. Ultimately, wear something functional that makes you feel good about yourself.

Are yoga mats provided, or should I bring my own? 

This depends on the studio. Their website should say whether they provide mat rentals. There is usually an additional, but minimal, cost. It’s always a good idea to bring your own if you have one. Remember to wash it after sessions (especially sweaty ones) with a mat spray or wipe. Place your mat down gently on the studio floor instead of dropping it on the ground. The yoga mat is your sacred space to practice so treat it with love and kindness!

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