Finding a Yoga Studio that Best Suits You

I’m trying to imagine a person with little to no yoga experience today looking for a studio or teacher. I also imagine that in the early stages of post cancer treatment, there are many physical changes one has to adjust to.

We know that movement and relaxation can contribute to physical and mental well being. I think if you are a person who wants to start a yoga class in your community,at any stage of your cancer journey, veer  on the side of caution and listen to the wisdom of your body… start slow and steady if you are new to yoga.


All people have tension in their bodies and an imbalance to various degrees from the right to left side. As time passes, people hold emotions in their bodies, they have injuries, they get cancer, they have surgeries. We are all working with something.  Most classes focus on a persons well being. I think that an experienced teacher can tell when they see a person move…where they are tight and where they are tender. Some people are more comfortable than others sharing personal information. Feel free to let the instructor know where you are tight. It will help them help you.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you want your focus to be on increasing flexibility or relaxation or both?
  • Do you think it makes sence to stay in a pose for a time to give the body a chance to let go or are you the type who prefers to keep it moving and get more of an active work-out?
  • Would you like hands on assists and verbal correction or would you prefer the teacher do the movements with you ?
  • How far are you willing to travel? Do you like music when you practice? How much are you willing to pay?  Do you prefer a male/female instructor?
  • Do you want to attend a class in the day or at evening? Is a small small class better for you or do you like the big groups?
  • How much are you willing to share about your cancer experience and any mobility issues you may have?

Here are some questions to ask studio or instructor:

  • Is your instructor certified? In what style? How much experience do they  have  Don’t be afraid and ask questions.
  • Does he/she do hands on assist? (do you want to be touched)Does  the instructor  make corrections or do they think the body will eventually finds it’ s way to proper alignment?
  • Is the instructor comfortable suggesting modifications or is the expectation that everyone does the same movement?
  • Does the instructor have any experience with cancer patients and are they aware how to modify movements if necessary.

One style is not better than another. It takes time to understand how simple and complex the practice is. One starts off by doing yoga and over time… yoga does you!  Bring a friend, ask questions!  Information is power and clarity will bring you closer to what you want.There are far too many styles of yoga for me to list. I am sure I would miss many… I will leave you with a few general styles that you can work from.

  • Hatha… can either mean a more gentle style or a style that holds poses for a time.  There is no guarantee it will be “easy “ so ask
  • Ashtanga…another style that could be quite athletic or not…it really depends on the training of the instructor.  In some ways a more modern type of yoga
  • Bikrim:   has 26 postures repeated and done in a hot room.  Challenging and athletic in nature.
  • Vinyasana :  has flows…series of movements that are done in a sequence.  Teacher does flow with participants.
  • Iyenga:  Similar to some Hatha styles; very precision oriented; very classical style; good for detail oriented folks; Poses are held; Props are used;  Blocks, bolsters and belts are common. Hands on and corrections
  • Restorative:  an extremely gentle yoga with lots of bolsters, blankets and no strenuous movement
  • Sivinanada:  has a series of movements that are repeated.  Classical style. No props
  • Kripalu  teacher usually does class with participants…a flow of movements…poses held but not as long as in hatha styles. More gentle and more variety than in vinyasana.  Classical style

Try out some different styles. Don’t feel obliged to make a commitment.  Remember, this is your time and you can design it how you like!

Originally published on Wellspring: Pass It On! 

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