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Taking Yoga Classes

2 of 12 in Series: The Essentials of Yoga

Most health clubs offer yoga classes at no additional charge. You can find a wider variety of styles and techniques at yoga-only studios, which charge $8 to $25 per class. You’ll likely also find classes aimed at different experience levels.

Choosing a yoga class or instructor

If you’re a yoga novice, make sure that you take a beginning class, and don’t try to keep up with anyone else. Yoga can be extremely demanding, both in terms of flexibility and strength. Even if you can bench-press a heavy load in the gym, you may find yourself lacking the strength to hold a yoga pose for a minute. Yoga requires a different type of strength than weight lifting does.

In the yoga world, it usually means a lot if you’ve studied with a certain yogi master, but most people have trouble evaluating this type of credential. Rely on your own judgment and word-of-mouth recommendations. A good yoga instructor wanders around the room correcting class members’ techniques and offering variations that allow less-flexible people to accomplish all the poses.

Yoga offers an active time-out to energize your body and calm your mind. Most yoga classes end with several minutes of lying facedown on the floor. This come-down time, called shivasana, is low-key enough to make some people fall asleep, but after you get up, you feel recharged.

Yoga equipment and clothing

Yoga doesn’t require a large commitment of equipment and clothing. Some people wear leotards; others wear baggy clothes; still others go without clothing altogether (an option if you’re working out at home, but you won’t find many clothing-optional classes).

The one piece of equipment you absolutely do need is a yoga mat, one that’s sticky or tacky (that is, nonslip), as opposed to smooth or slippery. Look for a mat that’s at least 68 inches long by 24 inches wide — longer is better, if you can find one. If you’d like to try yoga once or twice without investing in a mat, you can use a thick towel or blanket. Look for a yoga mat at your local sporting goods store, yoga specialty shop, gym, yoga studio, or at online shops.

Unlike most other fitness activities that require a major investment in footwear, yoga is generally practiced barefoot, although some practitioners do wear socks.

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