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Beyond Om: The Many Styles of Yoga

Yoga is more than "om-ing" and sitting cross-legged. Learn about the different yoga styles and how you can pick one that is right for you.

5 Tips to the Right Yoga Style

With so many choices available, just showing up at your local YMCA for a yoga class might not cut it. What should you look for when choosing a style? Experts give WebMD five tips to transcending the confusion, starting with finding the right instructor.

1. "Look for an instructor that is professional and that has a clear understanding of yoga in general so he or she can be helpful," says Tony Sanchez, a yoga instructor in San Francisco and president of the U.S. Yoga Association. "The instructor should be able to comprehend the different levels of the yoga postures and read a person's needs so he can teach the exercises accordingly."

2. "Educate yourself," says Miller. "Do some reading and learn more about the different styles available near you."

3. Then it's time to try yoga.

"Try a class and see if you like it," says Sanchez. "Do you like the instructor? Does the instructor know what he is doing? Is he knowledgeable?"

4. When you try a class, ask yourself if it is suitable for you.

"Iyengar is an easier yoga because it concentrates on more detail, with fewer exercises but more attention to alignment," says Sanchez. "While Bikram and Astanga yoga are more extreme. These can challenge a person beyond his or her ability, and this is where there is more risk for injury."

So know your limits, explains Sanchez.

"You should be able to understand how far you should push yourself safely," says Sanchez. "The instructor should be paying attention that the students are doing the positions with proper alignment and posture. And the students should decide if they are pushing themselves too hard or not enough."

5. When you find a style that is right for you body and mind, Miller recommends wearing comfortable clothing and avoiding eating before class.

Yoga for Everyone

"Yoga is good for everyone," says Sanchez. "If you are strong, you may want to build flexibility. If you are looking to build muscle, you may want to choose the exercises that work on strength."

There are so many different yoga styles available, explains Sanchez, that everyone can find a style that is beneficial for them and start working toward healthier minds and bodies.

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Reviewed on May 18, 2006

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