The health benefits of yoga are well-documented. From improved flexibility to increased strength and decreased stress levels, there are plenty of reasons to give yoga a try. But if you’re new to yoga, the prospect of attending a class could be daunting. With all of the different levels of classes available, how can you know which one is right for you Here’s a quick guide to help you choose the best yoga class for your current fitness level.
Yoga Level 1 – Beginner
What does it mean to be a beginner yogi?
If you’re new to yoga, or if you’ve never done any type of physical activity for an extended period of time, then Level 1 classes are ideal for you.
In these classes, the focus is on learning the basic yoga poses and getting used to being in a class environment. The pace is slow and the instructions are very clear.
Most importantly, Level 1 classes are a safe space for you to explore your own limits and find what feels comfortable for your body.
Aside from the physical aspects, a beginner may not be familiar with the terms and concepts used in yoga. Don’t worry, the teacher will explain everything as you go along.
What to expect in a Level 1 class:
- A slow and steady pace
- Clear instructions
- A focus on learning the basic poses
- A safe and welcoming environment
Which Poses Will I Learn In A Level 1 Class?
A typical Level 1 class will focus on the following poses:
- Mountain pose: Good for improving posture and balance.
- Downward-facing dog: A classic yoga pose that stretches the entire body.
- Cobra pose: Strengthens the back and opens up the chest.
- Warrior I and II: Promote strength and balance.
- Child pose: A restorative pose that helps to relieve stress.
- Plank pose: engages the core muscles and helps to build strength.
- Halfway lift: A beginner variation of the full Cobra pose.
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Yoga Level 2 – Experienced Beginner
Also called beginner mediate, Level 2 classes are for those who have some experience with yoga and are ready to move beyond the basics. In these classes, you’ll take everything you learned in Level 1 and elevate it to more advanced postures.
The main focus is on connecting breath to your movement and beginning to flow through the poses, rather than holding them statically. You’ll also start to work on more challenging variations of the basic poses.
Hand mudras, which are symbolic gestures that help to focus the mind, may also be introduced at this level. You’ll also learn pranayama, or yogic breathing exercises, which are said to have numerous health benefits.
In some level 2 classes, you’ll familiarize with “bandhas,” or energy locks. These are used to control the flow of prana, or life force energy, in the body.
What to expect in a Level 2 class:
- A faster pace than Level 1
- Poses that build on the basics learned in Level 1
- An introduction to hand mudras and pranayama
- More challenging variations of basic poses
Which Poses Will I Learn In A Level 2 Class?
- Half moon: Strengthens the legs and opens up the hips.
- Eagle pose: Stretches the shoulders and upper back.
- Wild thing: A more advanced version of Cobra pose.
- Camel pose: Opens up the chest and stretches the front of the body.
- Headstands: Promotes strength and balance.
- Forearm balances: Builds arm and core strength.
Yoga Level 3 – Intermediate
By the time you reach the intermediate level, you should have a good understanding of the basic yoga poses and concepts. You should be comfortable flowing through poses and connecting your breath to your movement.
In these classes, you’ll start to work on more challenging poses and inversions. You’ll also learn how to be more in tune with your own body and what it’s capable of. The focus is on deepening your practice and expanding your knowledge of yoga.
You’ll also focus on pushing yourself mindfully. What this means is that you’ll be challenged to step out of your comfort zone, but in a way that is safe and respectful of your own body.
Perseverance and risk-taking are both encouraged at this level.
What to expect in a Level 3 class:
- A faster pace than Levels 1 and 2
- More challenging poses
- Inversions and arm balances
- A deeper focus on breath work
- Mindfully pushing your limits
Which Poses Will I Learn In A Level 3 Class?
- Crow pose: Builds arm and core strength.
- Wheel pose: Opens up the chest and stretches the front of the body.
- Eight angle pose: A challenging inversion that builds arm and core strength.
- Peacock pose: A more advanced variation of Crow pose.
- Headstands: Promotes strength and balance.
- Plow pose: Stretches the shoulders and neck.
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Yoga Level 4 – Advanced
Advanced yoga classes are typically reserved for experienced yogis who have been practicing for years. In these classes, you’ll be expected to have a deep understanding of the poses and concepts learned at the lower levels.
You don’t have to reach this level to be a good yogi. Everyone progresses at their own pace and there is no “right” way to do yoga. However, if you’re interested in pushing your practice to the next level, an advanced class may be for you.
Advanced classes are associated with acrobats, movement artists, and professional athletes. These classes will push you to your limits physically, mentally, and emotionally. They are not for the faint of heart.
What to expect in a Level 4 class:
- A very fast pace
- Highly challenging poses
- Building extreme flexibility and stability
- Learning how to control your breath for long periods of time
- Visualizing and setting intentions
Which Poses Will I Learn In A Level 4 Class?
- Forearm Headstands: Promotes strength and balance.
- One-Handed Handstands: Builds arm and core strength.
- Scorpion pose: A more advanced variation of Crow pose.
- Firefly pose: Builds arm and core strength.
- King Pigeon pose: Opens up the chest and stretches the front of the body.
- Standing Bow pose: Builds arm and core strength.
What Are The 11 Different Types Of Yoga
For each level, there are a variety of yoga styles to choose from.
“Hatha” refers to the physical practice of yoga. Hatha classes are a good choice for beginners because they move slowly and focus on basic poses.
Vinyasa, or “flow” yoga, is a more active form of yoga. Vinyasa classes link breath to movement and are often set to music.
Bikram yoga is practiced in a hot room (usually over 100 degrees Fahrenheit) to help loosen muscles and promote detoxification.
Ashtanga yoga is a physically demanding form of yoga. Ashtanga classes follow a set sequence of poses that is always performed in the same order.
Kundalini yoga is a more spiritual form of yoga that focuses on energy and breath work. Kundalini classes often include chanting and meditation.
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Iyengar yoga emphasizes precision and alignment. Classes often use props, such as blocks and straps, to help students achieve the correct form.
Restorative yoga is a relaxing and therapeutic form of yoga. Restorative classes focus on gentle stretching and use props to support the body.
Yin yoga is a slow-paced form of yoga that focuses on deep stretching. Yin classes are often only 30 minutes long and are meant to be very relaxing.
Anusara yoga is a relatively new form of yoga that emphasizes alignment, heart-opening, and positivity. Anusara classes are suitable for all levels.
Jivamukti yoga is a fast-paced and physically demanding form of yoga. Jivamukti classes often incorporate music and other forms of movement, such as dance.
Sivananda yoga is a traditional form of yoga that emphasizes proper breathing, diet, and relaxation. Sivananda classes are suitable for all levels.
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Health Benefits Of Yoga
You might think that yoga is just a form of exercise, but it’s so much more than that. Yoga has been shown to have numerous health benefits, including:
Poor blood circulation is linked to a variety of health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes (2). Yoga can help improve circulation by stimulating the flow of blood throughout the body (1).
Improved Respiratory Function
Yoga is an excellent way to improve your respiratory function. Yoga breathing exercises, or pranayama, can help to strengthen the lungs and improve overall lung capacity (1).
Yoga can help to detoxify the body by stimulating the lymphatic system and promoting the elimination of toxins through sweat (1).
Improved Mental Health
Yoga has been shown to improve mental health by reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. Yoga can also help to improve cognitive function and memory (3).
Yoga has anti-inflammatory benefits that can help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, arthritis, and cancer (4).
Yoga can help to improve sleep quality by reducing stress and promoting relaxation (1).
The Bottom Line
Yoga is a safe and effective form of exercise for people of all ages and levels of fitness. However, it’s important to choose a class that is appropriate for your level of experience. If you’re new to yoga, it’s a good idea to start with a beginner-level class.
Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can move on to a more advanced class. If you have any health concerns, it’s always a good idea to speak with your doctor before getting started in a yoga class.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability to increase quality of life (2011, nih.gov)
- Poor Circulation (2021, clevelandclinic.org)
- Yoga: What You Need To Know (2021, nih.gov)
- Yoga could slow the harmful effects of stress and inflammation (2020, harvard.edu)