Many fitness and exercise trends have come and gone over the last few decades but it seems as though yoga’s never really been displaced from its position at the top since it first gained popularity in the modern fitness circuit. Now yoga’s longevity might seem like a full-on recommendation but before you start unrolling your mat, make sure that you’ve covered all the bases about what you need to know about yoga.

Yoga Instructor
First off, be aware that there’s no universal credential system for yoga instructors. Yoga studios adhere to their own specific hiring practices and without universal standards this means that though unintentional, there may be untrained instructors who slip through the cracks. ¬†According to experts, being observant about how your yoga instructor starts a class will clue you in on how good of a teacher he or she is. If the instructor asks whether the students have any injuries and adjusts the instructions to help the student out, you’re probably good to go.

Yoga Classes
It’s also important to know that there a several kinds of yoga classes and it’s essential that you familiarize yourself with what goes on in a particular class before you sign up. After all, there are some classes that will see students performing their stances in hot and humid rooms. This may lead to dehydration and overstretching, the latter of which may damage your cartilages. If you insist on doing hot yoga, be careful and make sure that you keep yourself hydrated all the time.

Mens Yoga
It’s also worth knowing that women tend to have more elastic bodies, and according to a column in the NYTimes, the trouble starts when yoga instructors push men to do the exact same stances as women. Men are generally built with more muscle, making them comparative inflexible. In this case, it might be better to go with all-male classes as programs are structured to emphasize muscle building, instead of focusing on flexibility.

Health Benefits
Of course, it’s not all disadvantages when it comes to yoga. There are perfectly good reasons why the practice has been around since ancient times and is still growing in popularity. For instance, yoga is a great way to manage certain health issues. Anxiety, depression, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, and headaches are just some problems that are alleviated by some yoga.

Yoga also generally helps boost flexibility, strength, creativity, and is a great form of exercise that aids in weight control as well as develops balance and concentration. Yoga is also known as a great stress reliever as it helps stabilize the practitioner’s emotions through breathing and stretching exercises.

Practicing yoga is a worthwhile way to exercise and de-stress but potential yoga students must remember that it’s important to “honor” one’s body. That is, know what you’re getting into by researching about it, consult a physician if you have any health issues, and try not to overextend yourself. Otherwise, you may end up injuring yourself instead of reaping the benefits of yoga.

Remember: do it, but be smart about it.