Imagine you want to start yoga. You’re full of good intentions, but you’re also nervous and you have no clue how to do this. Naturally, you Google search – and you’re horrified and confused.
You realise that “yoga” classes don’t exist. Sure enough, you’re on a “yoga” studio website, but the place offers something called “Power Vinyasa”. What’s vinyasa? Never mind, you keep looking. But it only gets weirder: There are Kundalini classes. Jivamukti classes. Bikram, Yin, Sivananda, Barkan, Forrest, Hatha, Iyengar, Ashtanga, Ishta, Vini, and some places offer “Bhakti yoga” (well, at least there’s the word yoga in there), or Kirtan, Satsang, Nidra (who knew there was such a thing as “yogic sleep”? Weren’t we looking at moving our bodies?).
I get it, I really do. Studios want to be precise, they want to make sure that experienced students find classes that suit them – relaxing, sweaty, powerful, meditative, you name it. But how about people who are new to yoga? And when have the class levels disappeared? Am I the only one remembering yoga schedules indicating: Level 1, Level 2, Level 3? A studio owner recently told me that she decided to remove level indicators from the schedule because “no one wants to come to a level 1 class, no one wants to be a level 1 student”.
Level 1 classes, apparently, aren’t commercially viable and, let’s not forget – a yoga studio is a business. Most people would have some sort of physical or movements background, having gone to the gym or running. They consider themselves to be sporty and therefore not a “level 1 student”. But isn’t that like saying: “Oh I’m an experienced runner, I don’t need to take tennis lessons to learn how the movements work”?
Bottom line: New yogis are being given a hard time – finding the right class, style and appropriate level on a schedule without any levels indicated is a huge challenge, particularly if you have no idea what yoga is “supposed” to be like. Your first class will be your only yoga reference point (maybe apart from Youtube videos…).
Some studios offer “Yoga Beginners Courses” and I think that’s just awesome! There’s no need to label yoga, at least not at this stage. And in a way, in yoga it’s like in music: The underlying theme is the same. Check out this video (it will be the best 5 min of your day, promise!), watched over 30 million times – isn’t it just the same with yoga?
Don’t ALL types of yoga strike the same basic chords?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!