In determining the yoga practice that's right for you, it's also important that you realistically assess your current overall general fitness condition—and that includes your states of physical, emotional, and mental health. You may have the desire to begin a practice of vigorous athletic-style yoga, but if you have been a couch potato for years and are in poor physical training, you might more realistically begin with a gentler style of yoga and work up gradually to a more difficult practice. You may want to open the floodways of kundalini energy in your body, but if you are going through a period of difficult emotional or mental trauma, a practice of kundalini yoga (see Chapter 7) might aggravate, rather than help, your situation. So in deciding how to tailor your own individual yoga program, be aware not only of your ideals in practice, but also your realistic starting point.
Having taken stock of both your goals and your current fitness level, the following general suggestions are meant to help you zero in on a practice that's right for you. In the following section, you'll find some of the most common styles of yoga grouped into broad categories. Please understand that as with any compartmentalization, the categories represent a simplistic approach to yoga. Virtually any yoga style is complete in and of itself and has a host of tools that can help you benefit from its teachings. In addition, many yoga teachers are versed in more than one style of yoga so that they may blend syntheses of styles in their own work. However, understanding the general thrust of a particular approach to yoga may very well help you to solve the yoga puzzle as you piece together your own private practice.
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