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Do you cross-fit, run, or do triathlons?  Or, perhaps you’re in the office, out of the office or stuck in the car driving your kids to different activities.  Life is busy and as it progresses, without a regular stretching and movement program, we lose flexibility which can lead to injury.

You want to feel better and move more efficiently, and yoga seems like it could be a great solution.  Where do you start and what kind of class should you go too?  The choices are endless and varied and can leave someone wondering “How can one word have so many interpretations?”  Just a simple search on the internet and you can find Ashtanga, Iyengar, Bikram, Vinyasa, Restorative, Acro Yoga, Hatha, Aerial Yoga and even Yoga on a paddleboard.  It can be bewildering with all the teachers and classes and styles.  But therein lies the beauty of yoga, it can be whatever you want or need it to be for your body and lifestyle.

To wade through all these options, the guidance of an experienced yoga teacher and your intuitive knowledge is invaluable.  If you are in a class and it doesn’t feel amazing, you may be in the wrong kind of class or it may not be what your soul needs, at that time.

So what kind of yoga do I need for my lifestyle?  There are some broad categories we can fit ourselves into, to help us find a starting point:

The Movers:

This group of people can be in Crossfit, GRIT or other HIIT (High-Intensity Impact Training). You can be an athlete, runner, rugby or soccer player. Yoga can fit seamlessly with HIIT training or athletic training because it will help your body achieve its full range of motion, increasing your body’s efficiency and fitness levels.  Other benefits include stress release, mindfulness and a new perspective on yourself and how you achieve your goals.  Yoga styles to consider for this group of people would be Yin Yoga or Restorative Yoga where the body passively opens and energises; resulting in restoration and healing the body.  Another option would Hatha or Iyengar Yoga classes, where practitioners hold poses for longer and focus on alignment and props.  These classes develop strength and focus, without quick movements, so that flexibility is increased safely and efficiently.

The Purpose Finders:

This group can include people looking for something different.  This type of person has done a lot of different things, but are finding it hard to be motivated to do the same old thing to stay fit.  They want to do something that will stimulate the mind, release stress, integrate and strengthen the body, and develop mindfulness.  Yoga can work for this group because it accomplishes all these things.  Yoga classes such as Ashtanga, Vinyasa, or even Power Yoga could be a good fit.  These classes will challenge your body, and also focus a lot on breathing, revolutionising your perspectives and how your body moves.  Once the body is strong and aligned, then energy can freely flow helping us create our true state.

The Searchers:

This group can include people looking for stress relief or healing. These people need a yoga class that can help them refocus their lives and teach them to live in the present moment, and not to allow life and its pressures to overwhelm them.  One suggestion for this group could be Yin Yoga because you go deep inside the mind and body, lengthening it passively; resulting in new purpose and stress release.  Other Yoga options include classes that bring spirituality and meaning through mantra, meditation and breathing techniques.  Some classes to explore could be Kundalini, Anusara, Tibetan or Kripalu Yoga.

Not everyone is limited to these three groups, you might in exist in any of the groups simultaneously.  There should be no limits to what you want to explore to bring balance to your life.   These suggestions are meant to help wade through the plethora of choice and find a yoga class that works for you.  Always make sure you work with a teacher who has combined training and experience to be able to bring your yoga practice alive.  There is a class out there that will resonate with you and create the foundation for you to build the life you have always wanted.

Tim Seutter is a firefighter, Yoga teacher and Manager at the Loft Yoga and Pilates Studio, Whangarei