Yoga classes in South Africa – Everything You Need to Know

Yoga classes in South Africa – Everything You Need to Know
BY Virgin Active South Africa
Posted On 9 November, 2023

Discover the world of Yoga with Virgin Active’s Yoga experts. From serene Yoga Calm classes, to energetic Yoga Flow, there’s something for everyone at Virgin Active. In today’s article we’ll uncover the various styles, experienced instructors and holistic benefits of Yoga by answering popular questions from South Africans.

So, whether you’re a seasoned yogi or a curious beginner, join us as we navigate the variety of Yoga offerings in South Africa, providing you with everything you need to know to begin or deepen your practice.

Are you curious? Read on to learn more about what Virgin Active South Africa’s Yoga experts had to say.


What is Yoga, and what does it do?
Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘yuj’ meaning ‘yoke’, ‘to join’, or ‘to unite’. Yoga is the ultimate union of mind, body and spirit. It is a way of life that fosters personal growth, a spiritual discipline focusing on bringing harmony to mind and body. Core Yoga practices include physical posture (Asana), breathing exercises (Pranayama) and meditation. Yoga improves physical health, reduces stress, regulates and improves breathing, encourages self-awareness, and integrates physical, mental and spiritual health.


What type of Yoga is best for stress?
Yoga is highly effective for stress-relief.

There are many different Yoga styles, each offering slightly different physical experiences and benefits, but when practised consistently, all offer a reduction in stress:

  • Hatha Yoga: Combines physical posture and breath.
  • Restorative Yoga: Focuses on deep relaxation.
  • Yin Yoga: Holding poses for several minutes.
  • Vinyasa Flow Yoga: Mindful movement and breath.
  • Gentle Yoga: Lower-paced movement.
  • Pranayama (Breath): Specific techniques train the body to relax and to reduce stress.
  • Meditation Yoga: These mindful techniques promote stress reduction.

In the early stages of your Yoga practice, it’s important to find a style that resonates with you physically. Once you’ve found a style you love, commit to it and watch the stress-relieving and mental health benefits unfold.


When should you do Yoga?
Based on your personal preferences and goals, you can create a Yoga practice that fits your busy lifestyle. One of the greatest benefits of Yoga is that you can practise it anywhere, at any time, and for any duration. You don’t have to practise for a full hour, nor do you need to be in a special shala (a shala is a traditional Yoga space) or studio. You can truly take Yoga anywhere you need to go.

Your Yoga practice is your own, but we can provide some helpful tips to help you on your journey.

  • Can’t sleep? An evening practice can be very beneficial.
  • If you know you have planned a very busy day at work, we’d recommend practising nice and early in the morning.
  • If you are doing other forms of high-energy exercise, consider incorporating Yoga as your finisher to round off a holistic and more balanced workout.


What is the spiritual meaning of Yoga?
Yoga teaches us to become more aware of our sense of interconnectedness and our true nature. The spiritual meaning of Yoga probes us to achieve a sense of union, or oneness, between the individual self and the universal self or consciousness.

For some, it means connecting with their higher self or true nature. For others, it means connecting with a universal consciousness or God. It is also vital to note that the spiritual aspect of Yoga is not exclusive to any one religion or belief system; it is a universal practice that can be practised and enjoyed by people of all faiths.

As a holistic practice that addresses the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of the self, Yoga not only strengthens or stretches our bodies but also allows us to bring these three aspects of ourselves into balance: calming our minds and cultivating self-awareness.

As you become more proficient in yogic practices, you may experience peace, clarity, and connection with something larger than yourself.


What are the main benefits of Yoga?
Several styles of Yoga incorporate physical postures, breathing exercises and meditation and/or relaxation. This mind and body practice is beneficial to achieve the best health and well-being by balancing the mind, body and spirit.

Some of the main benefits of Yoga include:

  • Improved flexibility and balance.
  • Increased strength and muscle tone.
  • Reduced stress and anxiety.
  • Improved sleep quality.
  • Reduced pain.
  • Improved cardiovascular health.
  • Increased self-awareness and mindfulness.

Yoga has also shown many physical health benefits, such as reduced blood pressure, improved heart health, and a boosted immune system.


Where can I do Yoga classes in South Africa?
Yoga in South Africa is offered at private Yoga studios, community centres, online platforms, and gyms. Virgin Active offers Yoga classes in all of its clubs across the country. We undoubtedly have a class no more than 10-15 minutes away from you right now – check out our website to find out more!


Does Yoga tone your body? Can you get toned from Yoga alone?
The short answer is yes. You could improve muscle tone with regular Yoga practice. A strong Vinyasa-style Yoga practice will definitely challenge your strength. However, if your number one goal is to improve muscle tone, luckily, at Virgin Active, we have a whole suite of other classes and workouts to help you.


Does Yoga help you to lose weight?
Yes, the physical aspect of Yoga, especially the more vigorous styles, will help to burn calories. However, the greatest benefit of Yoga is improved mental well-being and connection to self, which results in better health choices and practices. Yoga can also improve mental clarity, which can help you perform better in high-intensity workouts, leading to greater weight loss and management.


What does 30 minutes of Yoga per day do for my body?
Yoga can improve your physical fitness, mental clarity, focus, and overall calmness, even with just 30 minutes of practice per day. However, 30 minutes may be a daunting task for beginners, so we suggest starting with less.


What is the first thing to do in Yoga?
Stillness. All Yoga classes and styles typically start with stillness. So, if this is your first time coming to Yoga class, you can expect to first sit, close your eyes, and be still. Sometimes, this is the hardest part because we are taught to believe that movement and progression are the only ways towards happiness. But Yoga teaches us the beauty and power of stillness.

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How much do Yoga classes cost in South Africa?
Costs of Yoga classes vary depending on the location, studio, and style of Yoga offered. One can expect to pay anything between R100 and R400 per class, depending on the frequency of the class/classes attended.

Many Yoga studios offer package deals that can save you money, ranging from R400 to R2 400, depending on the class package deal.

Can I learn Yoga by myself?
Definitely! However, it is always recommended to be guided, especially if you are completely new. Our Virgin Active App has Yoga Flow, Yoga Align and Yoga Calm classes that are accessible to the beginner or advanced practitioner and can be done in the comfort of your own home and own time.

Which Yoga is the best exercise?
Yoga is a versatile practice that offers many physical and mental benefits. The best type of Yoga for exercise depends on your goals, preferences, and fitness level. At Virgin Active, we have two styles of Yoga that can increase your fitness level and build your endurance.

  1. Yoga Flow is dynamic and creative, involving flowing postures (Asana) sequences with synchronised breathing. It can supply a good cardiovascular workout, improve flexibility and build strength.
  2. Yoga Align is slow and strong and involves holding each posture for five long breaths, which creates heat in the body and a focused mind. It’s excellent for building strength, stability, flexibility and endurance.

Which Yoga should I do every day?
This is a tough question to answer. However, as a Yoga teacher, I urge you to listen to your body and tune into what it asks of you.

  • If it is to feel a little less anxious and stressed, maybe a Yoga Calm class is the flavour of the day.
  • What if your body is feeling stuck? It may be calling for you to do a Yoga Flow class.
  • Then, if you are just feeling unfocused and rattled, Yoga Align could be what you need. So, the question should be rather; how do you feel? Then, step into the class that can transition that feeling.


What should I know before doing Yoga?
Just leave any expectation you may have of yourself off the mat. The teacher and the other students aren’t there to criticise or judge you, and there is no expectation to know any poses or pose names. Just rock up, explore your body, and breathe with an open heart and mind!

How long is Yoga for beginners?
This will depend on the beginner and where they are at. I’ve trained students for the first time, and it’s been no more than 3-4 minutes of sitting still with their eyes closed.
At Virgin Active gyms, beginners are welcome to any of our classes. Our teachers are expertly trained to ensure that any new Yoga students are welcomed and cared for, no matter the class style. You can expect a class to be anywhere between 45-75 mins.

How do I start a Yoga routine at home?
Starting a Yoga routine/practice at home begins with the willingness to want to begin. This is one of the best ways to start. Some added ways are to find a time that works for you and your lifestyle – and try to stick to that time each time you practise.

Begin by making it a habit. This will help you make sure that you stick to your Yoga practice, even on days when you don’t feel like it; let go of the judgement you may feel as you move and allow your body to simply do what it needs to do, and go where it needs to go.

Don’t be afraid to try and change your practice to suit your needs. Most importantly, have fun and let it be enjoyable, this way, you can stick to the practice.

How often should I be doing Yoga as a beginner?
As a beginner, we’d recommend just once a week. And that might be just 5 minutes of sitting in stillness before bed once a week for the first few months. Then, you can focus on gradually increasing frequency as you become more comfortable.

Remember that there is no goal with Yoga. You will practise this for the rest of your life, so there is no need or expectation to progress quickly.

Listen to your body, rest when needed, and prioritise consistency. In time, include a variety of Yoga styles and session lengths to explore every corner of your body, heart and mind.

Remember that Yoga is about physical postures and mindfulness, so enjoy the process and progress at your own pace.

How many days a week should you do Yoga?
Practising just once a week consistently can offer huge well-being benefits. As you start to get into your practice more, you’ll naturally and gradually increase the frequency as you become more comfortable and experienced.

Consistency in practice is key, so we’d always recommend having regular sessions a few times a week.

How long do you hold Yoga poses?
The duration of holding Yoga postures (Asana) can vary widely depending on the style of Yoga, your experience level, and the specific posture. In some Yoga styles, postures are typically held for up to a few seconds to 1-2 minutes or even longer for more experienced practitioners. Within a style like Yoga Calm, postures are held for 4-8 minutes or even longer to target certain organs and connective tissues to enhance flexibility. However, it’s important to listen to your body and not push yourself too far. Focus on proper alignment and gradual progression, and consult an experienced Yoga instructor for guidance on pose variations and duration based on your individual needs and goals.

Thank you, Yoga team!
Discover the power of Yoga for yourself at Virgin Active, where we offer a variety of Yoga styles for everyone. We invite you to join us on your journey of wellness and self-discovery at a gym near you.