A practice refined over 5000 years, yoga's science and practice is particularly profound. Whether you practice it to alleviate stress, because you're a yogi through and through, or are even taking Prenatal Yoga to get ready for the big day, the ancient teachings are just as applicable today as ever and help you to be present in every moment.

You may have noticed though that there isn't one simple type of yoga, and there are lessons aplenty that will cater to your needs and desires.

Getting in touch with your inner needs: What is yoga going to do for you?

Feeling burnt out and dissociated from excessive work stress... Stressed out of your mind because of upcoming exams

These feelings, amongst others, often lead people to seek self-betterment and mindfulness practices to help them manage, and consequently, enjoy their lives better

Yoga is obviously one of the best known practices for helping to enhance mindfulness, and also has great health and relaxation benefits.

But how can you find the yoga course that best meets your needs? And how can you choose between the various courses on offer?

As mentioned, there isn't just one catchall type of yoga, and each style varies in terms of rhythm, pace, and positions, each bearing different benefits for the mind, body, and soul.

Yoga classes for beginners

People often have an idea in mind of what yoga is and how it works, but the reality can be quite different. What's the best way then to choose the right yoga class if you're a total beginner?

Hatha Yoga stands out as the most popular and accessible style, especially for new students.

Guided by a yoga teacher, Hatha usually consists of a variety of poses, known as Asanas,  and positions for enhancing breath, known as Pranayama. This is the style that bore the most common yoga pose, the Lotus pose, sitting cross-legged with palms facing upwards on your knees.

Lotus Pose is a basic yoga pose.
The Lotus pose, the base pose for most yoga practice. Photo credit: Lαin via Visual Hunt

If you don't want to jump straight to back bending poses that require a lot of strength, Hatha uses the simplest poses to ease you in.

For a comprehensive guide to choosing yoga classes, check out SuperProf's recommendations.

Stress Relief Yoga

The philosophy was specifically designed to help eliminate daily stress.

Beginner yoga students tout regulating stress as the main reason for their initial interest in yoga. With the world becoming more and more 24/7, the pace and amount of stimulation makes it hard to relax.

De-connecting from technology and re-connecting with yourself, away from all of your screens and devices, is becoming increasingly important for a balanced mind and soul.

Yoga is so effective in this as it helps calm the central nervous system, and trains you to relax anywhere.

There is one particular type of yoga that is specifically formulated to relieve stress, this being Vishranta Yoga. If you are specifically looking for a class to help you unwind, not make you feel the burn, then this is for you.

Basic poses permit you to focus more on breathing regulation and become more aware of your body, thus enhancing both relaxation and mindfulness. Some classes may even involve chanting to achieve this.

Vishranta Yoga is therefore very effective in helping to deal with high-level stress. If you really want to commit, most schools also offer monthly memberships.

Pre-natal Yoga

One of the best exercises for expectant mums is definitely yoga since it helps strengthen both back muscles and those in the abdominal walls.

Yoga is also good for learning proper breathing techniques - very useful when you are going into labour! And your new-found zen attitude might help you avoid torturing your husband’s hand and keep an astounding self-control.

Also attributed to its ability to enhance proper breathing, yoga can greatly benefit you when going into labour. It might even help you calm your mind when it's time to bear down.

Have a look at SuperProf's recommendations for great yoga classes Melbourne

Prenatal yoga to stay fit during pregnancy.
Yoga classes guide expectant mothers in preparing for labour. Photo credit: pasa47 via Visualhunt.com

If you're feeling underprepared about giving birth, yoga can help.

For this reason, classes catering specifically to pregnant women are offered, helping with your:

  • Flexibility
  • Techniques for breathing
  • Mood swings control
  • Dealing with pain of childbirth etc.

A word of warning however: if you've never practiced yoga, don't start when you're pregnant. You risk making a wrong move, so we also recommend you to familiarise yourself with some basic poses beforehand.

Thankfully, numerous schools offer pre-natal specific yoga classes.

Yoga classes as fitness classes

If you have energy to burn, fear not, there are yoga classes for exercise as well as relaxation.

Yoga can really help strengthen muscles and even burn fat, especially if you've got a yoga teacher who is into making you hold extended poses! Yoga can get very sporty and physical.

In particular, Vinyasa Yoga, which stems from Ashtanga Yoga, has breathing and synchronisation as its main focus. The structure of the class centres around a rhythmical flow flow various poses.

This kind of yoga lesson is ideal for those wanting to feel the burn of exercise as well as seeing the benefits of yoga.

Beyond this, practicing Vinyasa multiple times a week can be equivalent to regular gym attendance, defining muscle and training the body in balance and control.

Meditational Yoga

Regularly associated with yoga, meditation plays a big part in the efficacy of the practice

Taking the time to focus on yourself is a crucial part of yoga, not just interesting poses, and will lead to deeper introspective and eventual self betterment, both key elements for healthy mind, soul, and body.

Meditation, often paired with the endorphin release of certain poses, can:

  • Help open your heart chakra
  • Increase concentration
  • Increase memory capacity

Beyond enabling meditation, some yoga poses enhance mindfulness in particular. Kripalu Yoga, a specifically compassionate approach to your practice, is one such variety.

The range of poses used are intended to foster compassion towards others and a collective sense of wellbeing. With a yoga teacher to guide you, you will reach great new levels of openness and compassion over the course of several sessions.

Kripalu Yoga for meditation.
Kripalu Yoga equips you with the skills to face everyday challenges with mindfulness. Photo credit: Sole Treadmill via VisualHunt.com

Highly physical yoga classes

One step up from Vinyasa yoga is Asthanga yoga, with a relatively fast paced rhythm, requiring you to be in relatively good physical health to participate.

By some, it is considered to be the superior form of yoga, as it incorporates a set of specific movements repeated over and over.

Much of the point of this is to synchronise breathing and movement, as well as building strength, and even to tire you out to such a point that you forget about your daily problems!

Most Ashtanga Yoga lessons last around one and a half hours, generally enough time to wear you out for the whole week.

Yoga classes in a studio or with a private teacher: Which is better?

Once you've chosen the yoga style that is right for you, time to adapt your classes to your needs.

Try searching 'beginner yoga classes north shore Sydney', or even 'fitness yoga South Yarra'

What's the difference between taking a class in a studio or with a private teacher though?

Benefits of in-studio yoga

You'll no doubt be overwhelmed by the choice of yoga studios available around you. Most of these places will offer weekly courses and have a variety on during the week.

This way, you can get the health benefits of doing different styles throughout the week, especially good if you're a beginner.

Yoga institutes offer rooms.
Most yoga studios aren't usually this cramped, don't worry!
Photo credit: Official U.S. Navy Imagery via Visual hunt

Yoga studios also offer a good environment to practice, especially if you find it hard at home. Taking classes at a studio also has the added benefit of taking place in an environment already primed for physical activity and relaxation.

It also gets you in the swing of things by getting you into a rhythm and taking control of your relaxation practice.

Learning yoga with others also helps to enhance your synchronicity as you'll be doing it with likeminded people.

Tip: try the intro offers at a studio to get a feel for it first.

Benefits of private yoga classes

The obvious advantage of private yoga is that the teacher can more easily adapt to your needs, as well as working around your schedule.

The combination of these factors means that you can change the intensity of what you're doing if you want results more quickly, especially if you don't have the time to commit to the same classes every week and get into the rhythm. The teacher can help adapt to what you need most at that point in time.

Google "yoga Brisbane" to see what's available near you.

The main distinction with private yoga classes is that the choice of teacher is even more important than in a group. Superprof is an effective tool for putting yoga teachers in touch with prospective students.

Private yoga teachers are also better able to focus on helping improve posture as well as fostering you progression.

There's also a financial benefit to trying private teachers. Many teachers offer the first lesson free and give a reduced price for 10 lessons or more. Check out SuperProf's site to see yoga lessons at a better price.

For the fundamentally tech-savvy, opting for online classes may even be an option.

So here you have it, the best choices for the budding yogi. Time to get to it!

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Nelson