Yeast has come a long.....ways since the olden days. Nowadays, there are two types: Active Dry Yeast and Instant (a.k.a. Rapid Rise). There are several brands, SAF, Fleischmann's, and Red Star. It does not matter which brand you use.
Rapid rise or instant yeast is good for bread machines and is only good for one rise. That means you make your bread dough and immediately shape it for the loaf pan.
Active dry yeast is what I use. I mix it in with my flour before adding my wet ingredients. You do not have to mix it in water to see if it is good. If you are not sure if your yeast is good, you can take a pinch of yeast, mix in some flour, add 1/2 t. sugar and some room temperature water, cover it, and let it sit for 10 min. If it bubbles, it is good. If not, throw it out.
To store yeast, I recommend storing unopened yeast in your freezer. It will last well past the expiration date. Once opened, I store it in an airtight container in the fridge. This will last me 3 months. If you do not make bread weekly like I do, put your yeast in the freezer. It will last at least 6 months, opened. You can take yeast directly from the freezer/fridge and use it. Just make sure your use room temperature water (test your running tap water against your wrist...it should not feel hot nor cold) in the making of your bread. Hot water will kill your yeast.