Poses are straightforward, and the pace unhurried. "You do a pose, come out of it, then do another," explains Mark Stephens, author of Teaching Yoga: Essential Foundations and Techniques. "Its an excellent style for beginners." Props like blocks and bolsters are often used to help you get the right alignment. But its not just about the body, as your teacher will also encourage you to focus on breathing, relaxation, and meditation (which may involve chanting). And all of this mindfulness has a real-world benefit: A study in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine found that women who practice Hatha yoga once or twice a week recover from stress faster than those who dont.
These two provide all the regular benefits of yoga with the fat-blasting bonus of a killer cardio session. Both styles focus on flowing from one pose to the next without restmaking for a terrific calorie burn (about 500 per hour). "The practice is meant to generate heat in your body," says Mandy Ingber, the yoga instructor behind Jennifer Anistons ageless body. So, yes, you will sweat. A lot.
If you want to chill out, try Yin Yoga
Named for the calm half of yin-and-yang, this style requires you to move slowly into poses (most of them seated or lying down), then stay there for up to five minutes to allow for a xdeeper stretch and time to just, well, be.
As in many types of yoga, the poses youll do in an Iyengar class are traditional. The difference is in how those poses are done. Iyengar teachers are trained in biomechanics, so they understand which positions are most likely to cause injuriesand how to modify them by tweaking your form and showing you how to use props to make them less intense, says Stephens. Plus, a pause between poses (as opposed to flowing from one to the other) allows you to perfect your position, so youre less likely to strain something.
The truth is, you can find a great instructor and class in a church basement, and a questionable one in a fancy yoga studio. Just keep in mind this rule-of-thumb: Your teacher should be properly trained, with at least a 200-hour certification
The classes: Practice rooms are zen-like and class options abound. Studios that are part of national chains may also offer lockers and showers.
The crowd: Morning classes tend to be smaller (10 to 20 people), but post-work classes may be packed. "In big classes theres usually additional help from yoga instructors who are being mentored by the main teacher," says KayKay Clivio, head of teacher training at Pure Yoga.
The cost: $12 to $20 per class; $100 to $190 per month for unlimited classes. Ask about free trial classes.
The crowd: After-work classes average 25 to 40 peopleusually without additional teaching helpand classmates may be less serious about yoga.
The cost: Usually free with gym membership.
The classes: Usually a few styles with BYO props.
The crowd: Classes tend to be crowded.
The cost: Many charge by the class, others by the year. Discounts are often available for residents.