Fitness

Ask the Expert: I Want to Learn Yoga. Where Do I Start?

Here's how to find your yoga soulmate.

Welcome to our Ask the Expert series, in which our panel of health experts answers your wellness questions. Here, yoga and meditation guru Rebecca Pacheco talks finding your perfect studio and instructor. Got a question of your own? Email [email protected].


Rebecca Pacheco

Rebecca Pacheco/Photo by Jonathan Pozniak

Question:

I’m trying to figure out what form of yoga I should learn, and then identify a good local teacher. I simply want to make myself feel good by getting my body to be more active. Where should I go?—D.S., Cambridge

Answer:

The best yoga studio in the world won’t do you any good if you can’t get there. So step one is finding a studio that fits into your daily routine, Pacheco says. Most likely, that still leaves plenty of options.

“Within walking distance of my own home, there are more places to do yoga than there are Starbucks locations,” Pacheco says. “That’s kind of crazy, right?”

Crazy—and a good problem to have. Here’s how to sort through the choices and find your match:

  1. Find the right style. “Vinyasa is the most popular style of yoga being taught in the U.S. right now,” Pacheco says. “The key thing you will notice is that these classes have a particular cadence or characteristic flow, making them an ideal choice for people who want their yoga to pull double duty as a workout. If you prefer to go slower, reaping more of yoga’s restorative and/or meditative benefits or to protect an injury, look for restorative, yin, or level one Iyengar classes.” Using online videos (like these or these) can help you comparison shop without paying for multiple drop-in classes.
  2. Find the right place. “Atmosphere counts, and you’ll want to feel comfortable in your yoga environment,” Pacheco says. “A restaurant might make a fine meal, but if you don’t enjoy the atmosphere, you’re not likely to make it one of your regular haunts.” The same is true of yoga. Maybe you want a posh boutique studio; maybe a multi-purpose gym is more your style; or maybe you just want some no-frills yoga. Look around until you find a spot that excites you.
  3. Find the right teacher. This step takes some trial and error. Pacheco recommends asking around, tagging along to a friend’s favorite class, and reading teachers’ bios online. Eventually, you’ll find your yoga soulmate. “It can be overwhelming to choose,” she admits. “But, like the proverbial cream—or soy milk, if you will?—the good ones rise to the top.”

Rebecca Pacheco

About the Expert: Rebecca Pacheco is the author of Do Your Om Thing, an award-winning yoga and meditation teacher with more than 20 years of experience, an inspiring speaker, and creator of OmGal.com. She’s also the creator of the Runner’s World Yoga for Runners DVD, as well as With Yoga from Women’s Health. She has been featured by NPR, the BBCPublisher’s WeeklyHuffington PostYoga Journal, the Boston Globe, and more. She is the only person to have taught yoga at all three iconic Boston sports venues: Fenway Park, the Boston Garden, and Gillette Stadium. You can connect with her on social media @omgal.

Got a question for one of our expert? Email [email protected].