In my last column, I looked at how to find the right class if you’re new to yoga. This time, I’ll focus on finding the right teacher.

You’re thinking of attending your first yoga class, but you have no idea which one to try. Maybe you’re curious about why yoga is so popular, maybe your healthcare provider suggested it or maybe friends tell you how great it makes them feel. Whatever the reason, a bit of research will help ensure you have a good first experience.

First, contact some local teachers. Ask about their qualifications and how long they’ve been teaching. If they say that they specialize in a certain kind of yoga, ask them to explain what that means – especially if it’s a term that means nothing to you, like Kripalu or Iyengar. Ask if their particular style is suitable for beginners.

Do you like the sound of their voice? You’ll be spending at least an hour in class listening to them speak. Do you easily understand what they’re saying, or is it an effort to communicate?

Let them know that you’re a novice, and tell them about any of your physical limitations. Ask if they offer variations for poses so you can pick what’s right for you, and find out if they offer a class for beginners.

If you’re already quite fit and want to balance your strength with flexibility, you might be able to find a yoga class that’s designed for athletes. The self-awareness that develops with a balanced yoga practice may also help you stay safe in your athletic pursuits.

It’s well worth your time to research the right class and teacher for you. You’ll be more likely to continue, and to reap the cumulative health benefits that come from a sustained practice.

*Catherine Reid is a Registered Yoga Teacher, offering a variety of classes in the Comox Valley.