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Find Your Flow

Intimidating Yoga Classes

The world of modern yoga can be intimidating.  Seas of spandex, chanting, loud breathing and complicated poses that don’t get explained - there’s a lot going on.  It’s easy to feel out of place, and how are we expected to relax if we don’t feel comfortable?  How do we reap the benefits of a yoga practice and find a flow that works for us? 

You're Not Alone

First things first: you’re not alone.  As a yoga teacher and student of movement for the past decade, I often struggle with feeling uncomfortable in yoga classes.  This discomfort is just as much part of the practice of yoga as perfecting your downward dog.  Stepping into places and situations that are out of your comfort zone make you more resilient and flexible.  Sit with the feelings of self-doubt and then walk into class with an open mind and trust yourself.  Showing up is more than half the battle. 

Vinyasa, Hatha, Yin, Chair?  There are many different types of yoga that it can be a challenge just deciding on what class to go to.  Here’s a simple breakdown:


Hatha refers to the practice of physical yoga poses.  Most forms of yoga practiced in the Western world are some variation of Hatha yoga.  Hatha yoga classes are usually slow to moderate paced classes that incorporate breathing, meditation, and physical shapes.


Vinyasa in Sanskrit literally translates to, “to place in a special way”.  This definition has been interpreted in modern yoga to mean a moderate to fast paced class that incorporates traditional poses to create a flow that builds heat in the body quickly.  Vinyasa classes can vary greatly depending on the teacher.  Remember that rest is always an option.         


Yin yoga is a slow practice that consists of long, sustained poses that target the release of connective tissues (such as ligaments) instead of large muscles.  Poses are typically held for 3-5 minutes or longer.  Long holds are intended to open up parts of the body that often get overlooked, both physically and mentally.  Yin yoga can be quite challenging, though it looks like a quiet and relatively static practice. 


Restorative yoga uses blankets, bolsters, and blocks to prop your body up into supported postures that facilitate full relaxation.  The purpose of restorative yoga is to activate the parasympathetic nervous system – the “rest and digest” system.  Like Yin Yoga, while restorative yoga does not require much physical exertion, many people find this kind of yoga challenging because the focus is on quieting the mind. 


Your movement practice is always your choice and your prerogative.  While group exercises classes can feel overwhelming at times, know that you always have control over what you do and what you don’t do.  Don’t be afraid to push yourself but know that you can rest at any time.    


Explore Yoga at the Y

Trying something new (like yoga) is a great way to bring life into your workout routine, and the Y has a ton of different classes to explore.  Another great way to navigate waters outside of your comfort zone is to bring a friend!  From Sept. 21-23, Y members can bring in guests for free!  So grab a friend, check out our yoga schedule, and breathe – we’ll help you find your flow at the Y.