The beauty of yoga is that you can tweak it to fit your needs and athletic ability at any time. There are several different levels to choose from when you're looking for classes, so make sure to take a beginner class if you're a beginner or if you're looking to take it easy on your body. For more of a challenge, you can try the higher levels, but you may run into pushy teachers and competitive students. The best teachers are the ones who encourage you to hold poses in a way that doesn't hurt or cause any stress on your joints. If you have a pushy teacher, move on and find another, or simply tell her or him that you would like to be mindful of your current level of flexibility and strength.
There are many different types of yoga from which to choose. Vinyasa is one of the most common forms, where there is heavy emphasis on connecting the breath to movement and the flow between poses. Bikram is a different format, where you practice yoga in a heated room (usually at least 104 degrees) for an hour and a half.
Anusara is another popular form of yoga, where students are encouraged to practice poses that they personally pick to express themselves. Restorative yoga is pretty much what it sounds like. It's a very gentle form of posing and meditation where students will alternate between several poses the entire time, utilizing blankets and pillows to comfort their surroundings and clear their minds. At the other end of the spectrum, you've got power yoga -- which is made for the more antsy yogi who wants to move more and is consistently looking to challenge his or herself with new poses.
Some of the benefits of yoga include connection with yourself, which helps with alertness of body and mind, connection with others (yoga is more of a lifestyle and community than an individual practice) and harnessing strength and flexibility into a day-to-day routine. It can help alleviate pain from arthritis or chronic injuries and can help with breathing, stress reduction and sleep patterns. This, combined with the increase of strength and flexibility, will help with your posture, your energy and, of course, your confidence.
In addition to yoga classes that you can find in a gym or yoga studio, there are also outdoor classes that you can attend in most neighborhoods. Some of these classes are free or donation only, so be sure to check your local paper or community websites to see what's happening near you. And remember, yoga isn't just for trendy blond California kids; it's for anyone who wants to take an extra step in caring for themselves. Go for it! Namaste.