Sophie Dahl sums up something about Yoga that I have thought about for a long time but could not put down on words.
"I loved and continue to love yoga. I love the practicality of it; the awareness one has to have of both the breath and each and every muscle in the body. I hate trendy show-off yoga, where perfect coiffeured people who pretend to be peaceful are in mad hostile competition with each other over who can execute a brilliant cobra pose or wrap their ankles round their neck the quickest. I also don't get a certain kind of sweating yoga, where the room is heated to a zillion degrees and everyone's sweat pours on top of you as you contemplate the universe and the fact that you're in a human Petri dish of germs. A bit grim and unsanitary, I feel."
I am a big believe in yoga. It has changed my life for the better! Physically and mentally. I would advise anyone I know to give it a try. But like any good "religion" it's important to let people explore it for themselves. Some people don't get it, others would. I just hope you approach it in the right way.
I have tried a variety of different yoga classes. It's like searching for your favourite underwear. It takes time, trials and tribulation; and there is also a matter of accessibility and financial constraints. But if there is one advice I can give you, that is to start with the right place. A yoga teacher with credential is the best teacher to start your practice with; doing a beginners' yoga class is crucial. Of course not all teachers are the same but I highly recommend researching thoroughly who your teachers are and where they had their training. It is a big difference. True yogi teachers never force you to do more than you can and they are very aware about your safety, ability and injuries. They inspire you and do not forcefully push you to your limit (this approach is very athletic).
Please don't go to your gym to start off your practice. I find yoga classes at the gym not careful enough in the way they approach their teachings. Baring in mind that gym yoga classes are there to just help you keep fit, they lack the spiritual aspect of yoga that is also very important (but not necessary to all; You gotta be interested in that).
I am currently doing gym yoga classes. Only because I can't afford others.. The other day I was so scared for a guy who was doing the crane pose and was told by the teacher to move into a head stand. Without much assistance, he was doing a forehead stand, which was so so dangerous. He could have easily injured his neck. Gym has a very different approach to yoga -- just look at those ripped guys who go to the gym everyday; they look fit but they probably cannot touch their toes.
Don't get me wrong, I am still going to yoga classes at the gym regularly. My current teacher is fine, her sessions are good for me. But only because I have learnt the basics very well and I don't push myself more than I can. I have also been taught about the safety of the poses thoroughly by my first teacher, Katy Appleton. Her courses are fantastic if you want to start learning yoga in London. I wish my finances allowed me to continue her classes (which aren't that expensive, but having a gym membership already, they are a luxury to me). Visit http://www.appleyoga.com/