I have been teaching Yoga Classes in Cardiff and South Wales for the past 13 years and have seen many people come and go. Some pass through once and some stick at it for periods of time. There are also those who come for years and years and those who disappear for a year or more at a time but still come back! Why do we go to Yoga Classes? It seems to me there are many different reasons. Maybe it just makes your feel good or takes you away from the business of modern life. Perhaps the reasons are on a more physical level – we want to exercise and be more active or maybe tone and lose weight. Maybe we want to improve the quality of our life, do some soul searching and feed our spiritual self or maybe its the nearest thing to where you live at the right time on the right day! Whatever your reason you will benefit from the yoga class in some way. What kind of benefit will depend on many factors: the type of yoga you are doing, the teacher, the environment, your attitude and your physical and mental state among other things. However, not all yoga classes will give a real yoga benefit. There are ways to do yoga and many of the modern trends have lost the essence of Yoga as they have been watered down and mixed up with this and that. This is not to say you won’t get benefit from that type of class because you will – it just might not be the original intended yogic benefit. Anything that puts the body under sustained stress will not give the intended yoga benefit. Instead you might get a cardiovascular workout or a strengthening class using yoga postures and that’s ok if that is what you want. So there is some benefit in that and there is also benefit when people attending these classes would not normally exercise but they will ‘do yoga’. If you are looking for the ‘real’ yoga benefit then you need to research what yoga is and find yourself an appropriate teacher. These days it is too easy to become a yoga teacher and you will find quick courses of certification as well as gym instructors that can just add on a yoga module and hey presto they are a yoga teacher! Yoga is a science and needs an indepth study spanning years and even after that it should grow and evolve with the teacher. Currently in this modern cycle of yoga it seems that how good you are at yoga depends on whether you can do handstands and other balancing postures – another modern trend which will spawn more yoga teachers! Yoga is about the bigger picture – there is always a bigger picture to what the general idea is. We need to go back to the beginning and start from the beginning. Back to the first two steps of Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga, the Yamas and Niyamas. Once they are understood and understood in a profound way not a simplistic way, will the concepts of yoga will start to sink in. If you think you can run around living a regular modern life, drinking, eating meat, worse if you smoke or do drugs and then think you can do Shirsha Asana, the headstand, and other advanced practices then think again. Go back to the Yamas and the Niyamas because you didn’t understand them. Ground yourself in them because without them it is not yoga. These are the basics, the building blocks of yoga and without them you will fall flat. Putting a roof on a house without digging your foundations would seem absurd and in the same way so is rushing to higher aspects of yoga without building your yogic foundations. So dig deep with firm footing and start to build your bigger yoga picture.