There are many styles of yoga. Similarly yoga has many levels to it. If you’re just starting out a level 1 beginner (introductory) class should be your first choice. A level 1 class will help you understand the basics of yoga and master beginning poses. From there you can progress to intermediate and advanced levels.
Here are some basic guidelines to help you find the right level:
- A level 1 class will be introductory. Instructors should explain thoroughly how to get in and out of each pose and should explain the proper alignment for each pose (if this isn’t your experience at a studio, we recommend you try other studios until you find one that teaches proper alignment in beginning level classes). Introductory classes will also move more slowly than a higher level class and should offer you lots of modifications in each pose to fit your fitness level. If you can comfortably walk at a brisk pace for 30 minutes or more you should be fine in a level 1 class.
- A level 2 class will generally be more aerobic, especially if it is a flow (vinyasa) class. If you find yourself in a class that feels too challenging or over your head, you are always welcome to rest or modify the poses to fit your fitness level (your teacher should remind you of this). A level 2 class will also probably begin to incorporate more advanced poses such as inversions (headstand, handstand, forearm stand) and backbends. Once again, you can always modify or choose not to do a pose if you feel uncomfortable.
- A level 3 class will be advanced. There will probably be very little instruction on proper alignment as the teacher will likely assume that students know and understand the correct position for each pose. If it is a vinyasa or flow class, it will likely move very quickly. While the aerobic component of a higher level class is probably equivalent to a few-mile jog, there is also a lot of strength work in these classes. To make sure you stay safe and healthy, it’s important to make sure you have the strength and flexibility to do a pose properly. Beware that a level 3 flow or vinyasa class can get very sweaty!
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.