Get Inspired: How to get into Yoga

Englishwoman Thea Bainbridge does yoga on Mt Victoria in Australia
Fast Answers
Why get into yoga?It's good for your body and your mind, plus you feel amazing afterwards.
Who is it for?From antenatal classes to sessions for the over 55s, from chair yoga to classes for runners, yoga is for all ages and abilities.
Is there a cheap option?Once you know what you are doing, you can practice yoga anywhere. We like the idea of the beach or a park.
What if I want a proper workout?Try Bikram Yoga, which is done in a heated room and will definitely leave you panting for breath.
Can I take it to another level?Most of the different poses and positions in yoga have options for any bodies that are ready to take it up a notch.
Is there a disability option?Some sessions cater for people with special needs, while chair yoga is great for those with reduced mobility.
Is there a family option?Special parent and tots classes are an ideal introduction to the activity.
So how do I take part?Go to our Activity Finder to get into yoga near you.

Yoga develops strength, flexibility and physical and mental stamina through a variety of stretches and postures.

There is a type of yoga for everybody, and it is perfect for those looking to increase their fitness, flexibility or just trying to relax after work.

Search for your nearest class via The British Wheel of Yoga, the Yoga Fellowship of Northern Ireland,Yoga Scotland, and the British Wheel of Yoga, Wales Region. Remember, Yoga isn't competitive, so you don't need to worry about being the new one in the class!

Yoga

Thousands do yoga underneath the Eiffel Tower on International Yoga Day 2015
Thousands did yoga underneath the Eiffel Tower on International Yoga Day 2015

It's common to see yoga classes in leisure centres, health clubs, schools and hospitals, but learning from a qualified teacher and choosing a suitable class will help you to remain injury-free.

Normally, you'll need a mat, but if it's your first session, you might be able to borrow one.

It's worth speaking to a teacher about their approach before you sign up, to make sure you'll get the most out of it. Contact The British Wheel of Yoga for more information on how to get started.

Different styles of yoga

Students practicing Bikram yoga in London
Bikram yoga is becoming increasingly popular across Great Britain
  • Hatha yoga covers all types of physical yoga. It places an emphasis on postures with breathing and relaxation. It's suitable for all ages and levels of ability and involves slow-paced stretching with some simple breathing exercises and meditation.
  • Ashtanga suits those who enjoy a more athletic work out as it's physically demanding and uses a fast flowing, dynamic sequence of 75 poses with a focus on breathing.
  • Iyengar yoga focuses on postural alignment and as it's physically demanding, it's best suited to those with a reasonable level of fitness.
  • Bikram yoga can be practiced by beginners but it is a tough workout as classes are done in 40-degree heat. During the class you'll do a sequence of 26 yoga poses to stretch and strengthen the muscles as well as detox through extensive sweating.
  • Viniyoga sees an experienced teacher making a personalised programme for one student, based on their age, health, fitness and needs. It's ideal if you want to practice daily or address a specific health concern.
Top tips for beginners
Tell the instructor about any injuries or any health problems you have before the start of the class as they may want to offer alternative postures during the session.
All classes are slightly different, all instructors are slightly different so find one that suits you.
Persevere - give yourself time to settle into a new class.
Don't be put off by any images of extreme postures - most classes are not that demanding.
Feel good about yourself. It only takes two classes per week to see the benefits.

If you are looking to join a group, Yoga Near You is a database with a range of yoga classes for all ages and styles across the UK.

Pregnancy Yoga

pregnancy yoga aids relaxation

As well as classic yoga poses, pregnancy yoga focuses on positions for labour, breathing and relaxation techniques.

It will help to reduce aches and pains and improve the quality of your sleep. You don't need any previous yoga experience and it's a great way to meet other expectant mums.

Classes are generally suitable from when you are 12 weeks pregnant until you give birth, regardless of your fitness level, although you should check with your health worker before taking up any new exercise.

Contact the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) to see what yoga for pregnancy courses are offered in your area.

Accessible yoga

Elderly people try yoga
Anybody, regardless of ability, can get the benefits from yoga

Some yoga classes are chair-based and ideal for those with limited mobility who want to increase their flexibility and movement without getting on the floor.

Chair yoga usually includes seated and optional standing stretches, along with breathing and relaxation exercises. The classes also bring a sense of well-being and are great for senior citizens, people new to exercise, wheelchair users and those with learning or mobility difficulties.

The British Wheel of Yoga will help you find your nearest chair-based class.

Children and yoga

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Young people get introduced to yoga at BBC Get Inspired Active Academy.

Coaching and volunteering

coaching yoga

If you are thinking of becoming a yoga teacher, the British Wheel of Yoga can help you on your journey.

Volunteering provides a useful opportunity to gain valuable knowledge and experience that could enhance and develop your career.

The best way to get involved is to contact your regional officer at British Wheel of Yoga, or visit Volunteer Scotland,Join In UK, and Volunteer Now in Northern Ireland.

What's next?

1. Go to our Activity Finder to get into yoga near you.

2. Find your local yoga opportunities via The British Wheel of Yoga, the Yoga fellowship of Northern Ireland,Yoga Scotland and the British Wheel of Yoga, Wales Region.

3. Share your story and inspire others.

Are you inspired to try yoga? Or maybe you are a keen enthusiast already? Get in touch and tell us your experience of the sport by tweeting us on @bbcgetinspired, visiting us on Facebook or email us on getinspired@bbc.co.uk.

See our full list of activity guides for more inspiration.