Yoga: Find Your Zen or Find Your Six Pack

September is National Yoga Month in the U.S. and lots of studios are offering free classes.  This is a great opportunity to try different styles of yoga and find one that works best for you.  Yoga covers a broad range of movements, from very calming and relaxing to incredibly invigorating and sweat inducing.  You can find your zen or find your six pack; the choice is up to you. To help decide the path you should follow, see which of the following statements suits you. I like vigorous activity. Try Ashtanga Yoga, a series of athletic poses. The moves are challenging and are designed to have you sweat impurities out of your system and leave you feeling light and strong.  This is also known as Power Yoga. I like to feel my zen. Try Kripalu Yoga, it focuses on developing yoginis at their own pace and helping them find their spiritual core as well as their abdominal core.  You'll definitely feel the workout the next day and you'll be light and relaxed as you leave the studio. I like to chant. Chanting yoga is kind of cool; you use your voice to release your mind and time the movements with your breath. Try Jivamukti yoga, a style developed in New York City that incorporates lots of meditation and chanting. I like to sweat. Bikram yoga and other styles of "hot" yoga is your nirvana.  Temperatures in the room can go up to 110 degrees to mimic the climate of India.  Proponents say Bikram will clean your body of toxins and make stretching easier as your muscles warm up in the heat.  You will definitely sweat buckets. Tips if you go:
  • Dress in layered clothing that moves easily so as you warm up and cool down you can stay comfortable.
  • Bring your own mat.  You don't want to think about what the person before you might have had for skin infections before you put your bare feet on a strange mat.  Ick.
  • Get there a few minutes early.  It's good to hang out a bit and acclimate to the room and the workout instead of flying in at the last minute or even late and disturb the class.
  • Place yourself near the teacher.  If you're new, you want the instructor to help you, so pick a spot where the teacher can keep an eye on you.  Don't head for the corner.
I have to admit I go to yoga classes about twice per year.  I always leave feeling stretched and relaxed and promise myself I'll return soon, then get caught up in the busy-ness of life.  Yoga can be so invigorating and relaxing at the same time.  Even the "softer" versions of yoga are still a good workout. I am a Pilates person at heart though, so I usually wind up doing what I know best. If you're interested, here's the differences between Pilates and Yoga. Are you a yogini?  What is your favorite style?  I'd love to hear from you. Lisa

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.

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3 Responses to Yoga: Find Your Zen or Find Your Six Pack

  1. Tara Burner September 8, 2010 at 7:10 pm #

    I like Bikram mainly cuz’ I love the heat (guess that’s why I dont mind living in hot humid S. FL)
    I have intentions on getting certified in Holy Yoga as well (one of these days when I can get away for 7 days!)
    I haven’t tried Kripalu and friend of mine (hr north of me) now teaches zen yoga (which I want to try out too but again….scheduling/driving time hasn’t been on my side lately)

  2. Lisa Johnson September 8, 2010 at 8:28 pm #

    There are so many styles of yoga that there really is one for everyone. From super athletic to super relaxing and everything in between. The Zen yoga sounds good to me too. :-)

  3. Jenna September 16, 2010 at 10:07 pm #

    I love bikram yoga. But at the end of the day I will always choose pilates, spinning or TRX over a yoga class. However, one of my goals has been to do yoga once a week and I have really enjoyed it. I usually choose bikram, ashtanga or vinyasa. All have proven to be very relaxing and challenging. I find that it’s a nice change of pace – and a great stretch!

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