I received an email from the lovely Laurel Thompson, an ER nurse in Palo Alto who just started practicing at YB. She asked the same questions I was asking a few months ago, so I thought I'd share them on here in case there are any other newbies out there who are curious.
Disclaimer: I am a beginning yogini in EVERY SENSE OF THE WORD. If you have serious questions, please direct them to one of our capable, accomplished instructors... I can only speak for myself, and I don't even have a solid idea of where my hip flexors are, so take all this with a grain of salt.
Anyway, take it away Laurel!
"Today was invigorating, I sweat more than I thought I ever could and was very impressed with William and how friendly everyone was. I will be returning to yoga belly! From a beginners stand point what do you recommend? Would you stick to the yoga belly classes for awhile then move to the power yoga? How many days should I aim to go to a class. Let me know what you think I would love any suggestions!!!"
So, here are my thoughts.
Personally, I find the Yoga Belly classes to be just as much as a cardio workout as the power classes, though the power classes do a little more in terms of technique, and it helps to be familiar with some of the basic poses because we move through them really quickly in power. I don't think the power classes are HARDER (some people do, but I still sweat my brains out in Yoga Belly), but instructors will say things like, "Come up into Warrior 2" instead of "Turn your front foot to face the mirror, square your hips to the parking lot, relax the shoulders, tuck the pelvis under, find the 50/50 weight distribution, and gaze over your middle finger." You'll also do a bunch of funky poses in power that you don't really do in YB. Most importantly, you'll see all levels in all the classes, and poses can be modified to meet your particular needs on that particular day. So, don't be intimidated, just go to class and make it about YOUR practice.
If I were you, I'd try both and see which you like! I started with the Hour of Power classes, did a few YB classes, and then worked up to the 75 and 90 minute classes a few months later. 90 minutes of power is still pretty intense for me, and I still go to the YB classes, especially if I need to revisit my foundation.
As far as how often you should practice, that all depends on your goals, schedule, and other fitness interests. Since I don't do much else besides yoga and snowboarding in the winter, I try to go 4-5 times a week, which means I usually go 3-4 times a week. If I'm too sore to hold a pose for longer than a split second, I take a day off, but I find if I go less than 3 times a week I don't really progress the way I'd like to. Also, when I first started practicing, I was doing some running and kickboxing at the gym. However, I found that I ended up with tight muscles, and it really affected my yoga. I decided to take 6 months off from everything else and just focus on yoga, and that really worked for me. So much, in fact, that a year later I'm just now incorporating running and other activities into my routine : ) But, that's just me! Some people come once or twice a week because they do triathlons and circuit training or just work 60 hours a week, so everyone's different. You'll find a stride that works for you.
So, welcome new yogis and yoginis! We hope you're settling in and getting to know this wacky, sweaty, sexy new family of yours. If you have any other questions that a yoga newbie can answer, please feel free to ask! For the hard stuff, there's a yoga mama or yoga daddy out there who will be much more helpful than myself.
Coming soon: Yoga Gear for Newbies: Mats, Towels, and Tanks, Oh My! A Collection of Gear For Every Budget
Image courtesy of lululemon.com