Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Guide to Choosing Yoga Clothing

If are thinking of checking out the world of yoga, there are many studios that offer classes for the beginner. This is generally the recommended method for starting in yoga, so that you have an qualified instructor who can guide you properly in your form during yoga positions, and help you to get the greatest benefit from your workouts. However, to be in the presence of other students can be an intimidating prospect for many who have never tried yoga before. And this anxiety is often compounded by not knowing what appropriate yoga clothing looks like so that you can dress for class properly. The good news is that there are some simple guidelines that will help you to shop for the yoga clothing that will work well and look best for your yoga classes.

Baggy vs. Form Fitting

Loose fitting clothing is the basic requirement for most yoga classes. You will need to be sure that your tops and bottoms will provide plenty of give so that you can complete your positions unrestrained. It is also important to make sure that your clothing does not fit too tightly, because this can interfere with the flow of energy and blood that typically occurs during a yoga workout. However, yoga clothing that is too baggy will get in the way of your instructor checking your form sufficiently, which is one of the purposes of taking the yoga class in the first place. For this reason, you want to opt for yoga clothing that is loose, but will still allow for your positioning to be visible to your instructor.

Hot vs. Cold

Temperature is another important factor to consider when selecting yoga clothing. If you are feeling too hot or too cold during your yoga session, you will not be able to concentrate on your workout as effectively as you should. If you are a person who tends to get overheated easily, opt for short-sleeved t-shirts and shorts for your yoga sessions. This will also allow your instructor to evaluate your positioning correctly. However, if you tend to get chilly in an air-conditioned room, you might want to wear long pants and sleeves, and even bring a sweatshirt in case you feel the need for some extra cover.

What about Shoes?

The rules of many Yoga classes will require that you go through your workout barefoot.Therefore you can get a pair of flip flops that will slide on and off easily as you head to your session. For those who are uncomfortable with the barefoot approach to yoga, there are some socks and shoes in yoga clothing lines that are specially designed for this type of exercise. However, it is best to ask your instructor first about his rules regarding footwear.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yoga Terminologies

There are many different styles of yoga being taught and practiced today. Although all of the styles include the same physical postures (called poses), each has a specific emphasis. Here is a brief guide to the most popular types of yoga that can help you decode the schedule at your gym and figure out which class is right for you.

Hatha is a very general term that can contains many of the physical types of yoga. If a class is labelled as Hatha style, it is likely going to be slow-paced and gentle and provide a good introduction to the basic yoga poses.

Like Hatha, Vinyasa is a general term that is used to define many different types of classes. Vinyasa, which means breath-synchronized movement, is a more vigorous style based on the performance of a series of poses called Sun Salutations, in which movement is matched to the breath. A Vinyasa class will typically start with a number of Sun Salutations to warm up the body for more intense stretching that's done at the end of class.

Ashtanga, which means "eight limbs" in Sanskrit, is a fast-paced, intense style of yoga. A set series of poses is performed, always in the same order. Ashtanga practice is very physically demanding because of the repititive movement from one pose to the next. In yoga terminology, this movement is called flow. Ashtanga is also the inspiration for what is often called Power Yoga. If a class is described as Power Yoga, it will be based on the flowing style of Ashtanga, but not necessarily keep strictly to the set Ashtanga series of poses.


Based on the teachings of the yogi B.K.S Iyengar, this style of practice is most concerned with bodily alignment. In yoga, the word alignment is used to describe the precise way in which your body should be positioned in each pose in order to obtain the maximum benefits and avoid injury. Iyengar practice usually emphasizes holding poses over long periods versus moving quickly from one pose to the next (flow). Also, Iyengar practice encourages the use of props, such as yoga blankets, blocks and straps, in order to bring the body into alignment.


The emphasis in Kundalini is on the breath in conjunction with physical movement, with the aim of freeing energy in the lower body and allowing it to move upwards. All asana practices make use of controlling the breath. But in Kundalini, the exploration of the effects of the breath (also called prana, meaning energy) on the postures is essential. Kundalini uses rapid, frequent movements rather than poses held for a long time, and the teacher will often lead the class in call and response chanting.


Named after Bikram Choudhury, this style is more commonly referred to as Hot Yoga. It is practiced in a 95 to 100 degree room, which allows for a loosening of tight muscles and profuse sweating, which is believed to be cleansing. The Bikram method is a set series of 26 poses, but not all hot classes make use of this series.