So, You Want to Board the Yoga Train?

How to join the yoga craze—without feeling like a total newb


If you’re all about the Lululemon look but have yet to hit the mat, it’s not too late to make yoga a lifestyle—not just a fashion statement.

As someone who values a tough fitness routine at the gym, I always viewed yoga as a stretching gig for those seeking relaxation and flexibility; however, after doing some research and trying yoga myself, I’ve come to realize that it’s more layered than I thought.

For me, yoga has become a non-intensive way to unwind at the end of the day, mentally and physically, all the while gently toning muscles I never thought to workout at the gym. If you’re looking for a way to center yourself, or increase your level of fitness, yoga is a practice worth exploring.

While various forms of yoga exist, On the Danforth brings you a beginner’s guide to our top eight picks:

 1. Anusara

If you’re attracted to the spiritual elements and good vibes of yoga, Anusara is a perfect fit for you. With a focus on alignment and attitude, this method a great starting point for beginners; it also helps to prevent injuries inside and out of the studio.

2. Ashtanga

More intense and fluid in movement, Ashtanga connects a repeated sequence of positions with the breath. Though Ashtanga may prove challenging at first, the combination and order of poses is consistent, so you’ll always know what’s coming next. Due to the constant flow of motion, Ashtanga practice will increase endurance for cardio while assisting weight-loss and strength.

3. Bikram

Get ready to sweat with this heat-intensive approach. Similar to Ashtanga, Bikram follows a sequence of poses—only the 26 positions are done in a sauna-like setting (seriously, it’s about 40 degrees in there with 40 percent humidity). Your body may feel like a slip-and-slide during practice, but you’ll feel detoxed and refreshed afterwards. Bikram is also great for those seeking to increase their flexibility, as the heat loosens muscles, allowing you to gently stretch further each time; on that note, be sure to listen to your body and not overstretch in the heat of the moment!

4. Hatha

Think of Hatha as the basic approach to yoga. Beginner friendly and non-intensive, it goes through traditional yoga postures and breathing exercises. If you’re new to yoga, or simply looking to relax and move at your own place, Hatha is your best bet in the yoga world.

5. Hot Yoga

It’s been trending for a while now, but Hot Yoga sounds especially enticing in the winter months. Similar to Bikram in that the practice takes place in high temperatures, Hot Yoga deviates in its sequence of positions and postures used. Expect enough sweat to soak through your mat.

6. Iyengar

If you’re a perfectionist, Iyengar is the place for your. Using props like blankets, straps, blocks, harnesses and more, this practice enables you to find the perfect posture for each position. While it doesn’t make your heart race like Ashtanga or Bikram, Iyengar sets a solid foundation for other methods.

7. Power Yoga

Power yoga is the Westerner’s approach to yoga practice. This is a great way to engage all the muscles in your body, ensuring that you boost your metabolism and burn more calories. A spin-off from Vinyasa and Ashtanga, Power yoga gets you moving, without the same repetitive sequence of postures.

8. Vinyasa

Sanskrit for “flow”, Vinyasa is similar to Ashtanga in its level of challenge; however, Vinyasa sequences vary according to instructors, who select the choreography for their class.


OTD Tip: If you’re an eager beginner like me, try following Adriene Mishler’s yoga blog. I found her “30 Days of Yoga” challenge to be especially helpful.


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