Sharon and other beginner yoga students,
An excellent question. Beginner classes can have many names – Intro to Yoga, Yoga 101, Level 1, Gentle Flow, Beginner yoga, Easy yoga. Ideally the website will have class descriptions that are clear so you can chose based on that. If it is not clear, do not hesitate to contact the studio owner or manager for clarification. If I receive many calls about a particular topic (i.e. the class descriptions are not clear), I will immediately update the website. As a studio owner I assure you, owners encourage and listen to student feedback.
Some studios may have a web page devoted to ‘Where to begin your practice” – see http://www.yoganh.com/wheretostart.htm for an example. (That is my website! J). At Living Yoga every class is suitable for all levels. Teachers will offer modifications for students who are new to yoga or have physical limitations (tight hamstrings, lower back sensitivity). Offering a schedule with all levels classes provides more opportunities for folks to attend classes that fit their schedule, although the best scenario is when you can start with an Intro to Yoga or Gentle Flow class to become familiar with the poses and flow of the practice. If you chose a yoga studio that does not have an intro class that best suits your schedule, it is important for new students to know if you attend an all levels class it is VERY common to be confused and looking around at other students to get a visual on what a posture looks like (if the teacher does not demonstrate as he/she teachers) a lot during the first weeks of yoga. Over time you will become more familiar with the poses and less likely to look around. If you are not comfortable learning that way, you may want to purchase an intro level book or DVD to practice and/or view the postures at home prior to attending class. (See class names listed above as ideas for what the names of DVDs might be.)
When you attend a class, if you have an experience that is not pleasant or if you have questions, let the teacher and/or the owner know. A yoga studio is like any other business and the owner wants you to have an amazingly positive experience and if you do not, the owner will want to know so they can take appropriate action to improve.
In closing, I have a suggestion for new yoga students: call or email a studio owner prior to attending your first class, ask them any questions that you have that are not answered by perusing their website and then inquire as to whether or not they offer the first class for free. If they reply ‘no’, then ask them if they would be willing to do so for you on a specific date and time (by being specific they will know you are serious about visiting their studio) because you want to try it out prior to making a commitment. Anytime a student asks me, I always say yes.