No other fitness discipline has demonstrated the staying power of yoga. Practiced for thousands of years, yoga continues to grow in popularity.
A 2015 survey reported that one in ten American adults has tried at least one downward dog, a percentage that doubled from the previous decade.
Yoga has many mind-body benefits—increasing strength and flexibility, defining muscles and providing stress relief. The benefits begin with your first class.
Getting started is easy. All it takes are some workout clothes, a good class, and deciding which of the numerous types of yoga to practice.
Fortunately, the Hudson Valley offers classes in many of those varieties, with a focus on the five most popular in the US: Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Iyengar and Bikram yoga.
Whichever type of yoga you choose, there can be plenty of variation in classes of the same discipline.
Which practice is best for you? The only way to know for sure is to try a few classes. The positions in each class will be similar but the pace, order, and approach may differ. The style of each teacher may also differ. Here’s an idea of what you might expect.
Hatha yoga is really a general term that can be used to label any yoga practice, but most classes described as hatha yoga today offer a slow-paced, gentle type of yoga, with a focus on meditation and breathing. This gentle introduction to yoga postures is well-suited for beginners since it focuses on one pose at a time.
Vinyasa focuses on synchronizing breath with a flowing sequence of movements. A focal point in most vinyasa classes is the Sun Salutation, a series of 12 poses, which ideally transition in a graceful sequence. Vinyasa can be translated to mean gradual progression. It is good for strengthening the mind-body connection.
Yoga is always evolving and some adaptations may also fit the bill. Some classes speed up the pace of exercise sequences while others slow it down, and yet others incorporate techniques from other forms of physical fitness. Here are a few examples:
This type of yoga incorporates all eight branches of Ashtanga yoga and adds body alignment exercises. As a result, there’s more of an emphasis on standing postures. Besides offering the same benefits as other yoga practices, Iyengar yoga exercises can help improve balance.
This modern yoga model is based closely on the Ashtanga method and sometimes the terms are used interchangeably. However, the order of Ashtanga yoga classes is always the same, whereas the equally intense power yoga can vary with every class. Power yoga is good for maintaining strength and stamina and the aerobic approach might help you lose weight.
This cardiovascular workout combines yoga, calisthenics, and Pilates exercises, with the aim of building overall strength and flexibility, as well as improving posture and balance. If you can’t decide between yoga and Pilates, this class is perfect for you. Ask in advance if you need to bring a yoga mat and dumbbells.
Restorative yoga postures are slow and steady. Rather than moving quickly from pose to pose, restorative yoga uses props such as blocks and blankets to support the body so positions can be held for longer. The props help muscles relax deeply and stretch gradually into the posture.
Finally, there’s even a form of yoga you can practically do in your sleep. Yoga nidra is not really physical exercise but it’s a great way to become aware of your body and de-stress.
This vigorous athletic form of yoga features a set of exercises that always take place in the same order. Ashtanga means eight branches. One benefit to taking an ashtanga yoga class is that once you learn the Ashtanga sequence of exercises, you can go to any class in the world and expect the same. Another benefit is that having the same sequence of poses in every class allows practitioners to perfect them. The room is often heated to a toasty 80 to 90 degrees, so bring a towel.
Some like their yoga really hot. Bikram, or hot yoga, is generally practiced in a room that’s heated to 95 or 100 degrees. The theory behind Bikram Yoga is that warm temperatures help tight muscles relax. Sweating is part of the practice and thought to help flush out toxins. Bikram Yoga classes are typically 90 minutes long and consist of a sequence of 26 postures.
Yoga Nidra Yoga nidra, or yogic sleep, helps you focus on your breath, identify sensations in your body, and relax. Practitioners lie down comfortably and listen to a guided meditation led by their
teacher. It’s not unusual for people to fall asleep during sessions, as relaxation can be deep. The end goal is to leave class feeling renewed and refreshed.
local yoga studios we love
iris YOGA STUDIO
238-1 Towpath Road, Accord. yogairis.com
Iris is a community and retreat center overlooking the foothills of the Catskill Mountains, with a GeoBarn yoga studio that is perfectly suited for small workshops, yoga classes, meditation, and intimate gatherings. Iris offers classes, workshops, and events for the body, mind, and spirit, and also hosts groups and gatherings led by guests offering their own programs. Be sure to check out their upcoming events as well as their ongoing classes, or explore the beautiful grounds and studio.
shakti Yoga STUDIOS
1685 Sawkill Road, Woodstock 67 Partition Street, Saugerties Uptown Kingston (in the Kingston Plaza)
For all locations: shaktiyogawoodstock.com 845-679-0706.
Helping students increase their flexibility, strength, alignment, and confidence through an intelligent, dynamic, and safe yoga discipline. With three locations, we make practicing yoga convenient and also afforable. Shakti Yoga founder Linda Lalita Winnick has created an insightful approach to the yoga practice, drawing from her 30 years of experience as a student and teacher. A rich knowledge of yogic philosophy, anatomy, and physiology and an extensive Ayurvedic background adds a deeper dimension shared during classes at Shakti Yoga of Woodstock, Saugerties, and Kingston. Shaktifitness is the latest creation, adding a well- rounded mix of physical actions to increase strength, stamina, and coordination that can be practiced in small groups or with personal training. Many of our highly skilled and caring teachers are certified through Shakti Yoga’s Teacher Training Program.
whole SKY YOGA
10 Old Route 213, #2S (2nd floor),
High Falls. 845-706-3668. wholeskyyoga.com
Whole Sky Yoga (WSY) is an open resource for non-judgmental self-exploration and development through yoga. Located in the beautiful hamlet of High Falls, WSY offers 30 weekly classes, custom private instruction, and educational workshops and events. WSY, a professional, reliable, and welcoming yoga studio that caters to all levels of practitioner, cares deeply about serving their students and providing a quality experience. Explore vinyasa yoga, yin yoga, restorative yoga, yoga for beginners, gentle styles, and Pilates. Drop in to any class! New students: Buy 1 get 1 free for $15, 10-class pass $100, or become a WSY member for $75 per month, the most generous rate in the Hudson Valley!
woodstock YOGA CENTER
6 Deming Street, Woodstock.
Woodstock Yoga Center is a year-round yoga studio offering a range of asana steeped in tradition. Our foundation is rooted in the healing and transformative powers of yoga, with the goal of honoring these ancient teachings while bringing them to you in an exciting and modern way. Owner Barbara Boris has been teaching for twenty years, and is the only Certified Iyengar Yoga Instructor in Woodstock. She and other talented teachers offer a wide range of classes, events, and workshops in Iyengar Yoga, hatha yoga, vinyasa yoga, restorative yoga, gentle yoga, yin yoga, qi gong, sound healing, and kirtan chanting, as well as private sessions. All classes provide a safe, fun, and non-competitive space to explore one’s greatest potential. Our doors are always open to explore the paths of grace and self-effort leading you to the light and love within.