There are lots of yoga and Pilates classes all over the country, with more than 10,000 yoga instructors, so there’s sure to be a class near you. Classes are for all ages and abilities, and if you’re new to yoga, detail-oriented and slow-paced, Iyengar or Hatha yoga are good for beginners. But if you’d rather try a few workouts yourself before joining a class, or maybe you’re a busy parent who doesn’t have time for a class in your schedule, consider working out in the comfort of your own home, or take in the fresh air in your garden or local park. 

There are many benefits to doing yoga or Pilates exercises at home. In addition to saving time, you’ll also save money on sessions, and if you’re someone who struggles to get going in the mornings, a quick workout in your living room just might be the answer. Here are some other benefits to practicing yoga and Pilates at home if you’re a beginner:

  • Comfort: In your own house, there’s no need to put on your best activewear, or brush your hair to look presentable. Enjoy a hassle-free session in the comfort of your own home.
  • Confidence: Some people may feel self-conscious taking part in large classes. Those who aren’t very active, or men who think yoga and Pilates are female forms of fitness, may feel more comfortable practicing in the privacy of their own home. No one will be watching, and it’s a good way to build your confidence.
  • Cost: You can save money by practicing yoga or Pilates at home, rather than paying for expensive classes and gym subscriptions.
  • Time: If your family or professional life is particularly demanding, you may not have the time to travel to and from a studio or the gym. Exercising at home makes it much easier to fit more sessions into a busy routine. 

If you’re new to yoga and Pilates, it’s advisable to take a couple of classes with an instructor to get some professional advice before you go it alone. You’ll be shown the correct method of doing the exercises, which will help to avoid any injury that could occur from doing moves incorrectly. Then once you’ve nailed some basics, online instructional videos will be your best friend when doing yoga or Pilates at home for beginners. All you need is a mat and some loose, comfortable clothing. Doing your first workout at home can feel quite strange, but it’ll soon become a fun part of your routine with a little practise. 

What is the difference between a yoga class and a Pilates class?

Although there are similarities between yoga and Pilates as they both focus on mind and body connection, yoga tends to be a more relaxing form of exercise, with a focus on spiritual well being. Whereas Pilates is more of a physical programme which focuses on toning and strengthening the body. 

If you want to try yoga or Pilates for the first time, then a good class is the ideal place to start. You’ll be with a group of friendly, like-minded people, and in the hands of an expertly trained instructor. There are classes for all ages and fitness levels, and you can choose which type of yoga you want to practise, or choose a Pilates mat class, or one which uses specially designed equipment. Beginners can start with mat classes, which mainly focus on working against gravity and the weight of your body to hold and maintain a varied number of positions. This involves both strength and stamina. Or if you need a more personal approach, or exercise modifications due to your age or a past injury, then a private Pilates class with equipment may be more suitable. 

What are the different types of yoga?

There are lots of different types of yoga to choose from, and some are more physical than others. Which style works best for you depends on how much of a workout you want, and whether you prefer some of the more spiritual aspects of yoga. Here are some of the main types of yoga and their benefits:

  • Lyengar yoga: Perfect for beginners, this is a very meticulous style of yoga, placing the emphasis on precision and alignment. It focuses on the details of your breath control (pranayama) and posture (asana), and is excellent for building strength and flexibility.
  • Vinyasa yoga: Also known as power yoga, this is performed at a faster speed than many other types of yoga. It involves both seated and standing postures and inversions such as shoulder stands. This form of yoga is good for those who want to lose weight as you’ll burn more calories.
  • Kundalini yoga: This style aims to invigorate your body and relax your mind. It’s based on the idea that energy is stored at the bottom of your spine and can be released through practicing this type of yoga. It channels energy upwards through the chakras in the process of spiritual perfection. 
  • Yin yoga: This slow-paced style of yoga is all about calming your mind and body. A class usually consists of a series of long-held, passive floor poses that mainly work the lower body (hips, pelvis, inner thighs, and lower spine). Beginners may hold a pose for up to two minutes, while more advanced practitioners may stay in one position for five minutes or more.
  • Hatha yoga: Combines posture and breathing techniques. Your breathing is a key part of this form of yoga, which helps you relax and reduce your stress levels. It also helps to prepare the body for deeper spiritual practices such as meditation. 
  • Ashtanga yoga: If improving your strength, endurance, flexibility and balance is your aim, you’ll love this type of yoga. It can be difficult for beginners, but it does get easier with regular practise.
  • Bikram yoga: Also known as hot yoga, is a popular style of yoga, perfect for those wanting a detox. But it’s not for the faint hearted. A class consists of a fixed sequence of 26 postures, practised in a room heated to a sweltering 105 °F (41 °C) with a humidity of 40%, intended to replicate the climate of India.
  • Restorative yoga: This style is all about slowing down and opening your body through passive stretching. If you take a restorative class, you may hardly move at all, doing just a few postures in the course of an hour. It’s a completely different experience compared to most styles of contemporary yoga.

Chair yoga: Want to get the benefits of yoga without overstretching yourself? Chair yoga is ideal for those who are less mobile as it’s less strenuous on the muscles.