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Does yoga feel intimidating? What to ask when considering if a class is right for you.

Deciding to embark on yoga practice can take a leap of faith – attending your first class can be like diving into a box of assorted chocolates with your eyes closed, you never know which one you’re going to get.

There is much about the yoga industry that the general public which understandably would not be aware – things like the fact the industry is unregulated, so they may be attending a class where an instructor may have the bare minimum of 200 hours teacher training or another who may of undertaken up to 1,000 hours or beyond.

Added to this are the various styles of yoga – Vinyasa, Hatha, Restorative, Yin, Ashtanga, Iyengar, Bikram and so on – what does it all mean?

You may ask what style is most appropriate to meet my needs?

What is this completely different language referred to as Sanskrit that the teacher is using to describe the postures?

No wonder yoga the thought of stepping into yoga can feel a little if not a lot intimidating for many. However, it’s not all bad and if you are willing to do a little homework, or even start with the tips below, you may find yourself falling in love with this ancient practice that has so many mind body benefits. If you find the right class/instructor, you will wonder why you hadn’t tried it before. So, if your curious here are a few tips.

The following enquiries may inform your decision about what type of yoga class, style is the right fit for you. You may find some of these answers on the studio or teachers’ website, so check there first.

Some teachers have a short bio and information on their history, why they teach as a way for you to get to know them a little.

So here goes – don’t be afraid to ask

Q. Can you tell me more about your teacher credentials, how many hours of training undertaken?

Tip! The minimum requirement to teach in Australia is 200 hours – many in the industry agree this training is the absolute bare minimum.

Q. How long have you been teaching?

Tip! There’s no right or wrong here, we all need to start somewhere, my advice would be to ensure the teacher is qualified to teach and are a member of a body such as Yoga Australia.

The approach to teaching has changed a lot over the years, where some teachers with years of experience may as an example, still be very strict about alignment (some styles emphasise alignment more than others - but please ensure you listen to what feels right for you – if a teacher insists on something that doesn’t feel right for you, perhaps their teaching style is not right for you). Listen to your gut and your body!

Q. Can you explain about the type of style you are teaching?

TIP Many experienced teachers tend to mix up styles and teach hybrid type classes so don’t let this put you off (check to ensure they have had appropriate training for what they teach)

Q. Do you offer variations and modifications in your class?

Tip! They answer here should be yes and ask them to explain how they do this – often teachers will offer options that may include the use of props, doing a posture from a different orientation eg floor instead of standing, or alter range of movement required.

What size is the class ?

Tip! If you are a complete beginner, it may be more beneficial to attend a smaller class size (say upto 6 – 8 people). This provides the opportunity for the teacher to keep an eye on you and may not be as intimidating as a larger class.

Q. Do you have specialised training in the area of teaching for example Chair Yoga, Yoga for Healthy Ageing?

Tip *Unfortunately, I have come across several teachers offering classes in say for example Chair Yoga without having undertaken formal training. This is a risk to their participants and their own reputation.

Q. What is the structure of a typical class like?

Tip! Classes should begin with some type of warm up

Q. I’m looking for ****some of all of the following:

Exercise, relaxation, improved mobility, strength, balance, meditation – is this class right for me?

Q. I have this XXXXX type of health condition, is this class appropriate for me ?

Q. Is there anything I need to be aware of or think about before I participate in class?

If you have mobility issues you may wish to ask if the venue has appropriate accessibility options.

Last but not least -

Best practice is for a yoga teacher or business that offers health services/activities is to ask for a completed health screen or participant readiness form. In some cases you may need to seek guidance or the go ahead from a health professional such as a General Practitioner of Allied Health Professional.

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