Discover the perfect style for you with our expert guide
Finding a yoga class that caters to your current abilities and future aspirations is an essential part of any yogic journey, but with so many different types to choose from it can seem like a complicated and overwhelming decision. Without an understanding of the various styles and their benefits, it will be difficult to know what is going to suit you best and what class you should invest your time, money and energy in. To keep the process as zen as possible, we’ve teamed up with yoga teacher and co-founder of Yogi2Me (yogi2me.com) Sarah Drai to shed light on the different kinds of yoga, what they involve and what they offer so you can get the most out of your practice. See you on the mat!
Hatha is a generic term that encompasses any type of yoga involving physical postures. The majority of yoga taught in the western world is hatha and classes usually comprise of a gentle flow of postures (asanas) aimed at promoting relaxation and loosening the body. It is best suited to those who want to ease themselves into yoga fitness and begin to understand the connection between the mind and body.
Within iyengar yoga, a lot of emphasis is placed on correctly aligning the body during every pose, so it requires concentration and attention to detail. Props are often used to better enable you to hold the exact position. In general, it isn’t overly physically demanding but can be quite mentally taxing as you strive to perfect each asana. Due to the slow and careful nature of this style, it’s a great choice for anyone with limited ability as a result of an injury or health condition.
Bikram yoga involves working through a series of 26 poses in a heated room. The combination of movement and a high temperature means that this class is suited to a more advanced yogi, although beginners are always welcome and encouraged to give it a try. If you want to improve your flexibility and strength while sweating out your toxins, then you’ll love this. Bikram can also help to alleviate joint pain.
This is similar to Bikram yoga but the asanas are not the same. As the name suggests, the room will again be heated and you’ll be sweltering as you work your way through the session. Hot yoga might be better for those looking for a slightly more relaxed environment than that of Bikram.
This style involves mastering smooth transitions from posture to posture and is similar in intensity to ashtanga yoga (see below). One of the main differences between the two is that vinyasa doesn’t follow a strict series of poses and it’s unlikely that any two classes will ever be the same. This is a good type of yoga for people who want to challenge their bodies but are prone to boredom and want to keep things interesting.
Ashtanga is a physically demanding type of yoga that teaches you to link every movement to a breath. In this kind of class you’ll always do the same poses in the same order and will certainly break a sweat. If you want to tone your body while also giving your mind a workout then this is for you.
If you’re after peace and relaxation, then you need to head to a restorative or yin yoga class. Sessions involve holding asanas for three to five minutes which increases circulation in the joints and improves flexibility, and props are used to make it a comfortable and calming practice. This style of yoga is ideal for those who want to enjoy the emotional benefits without exerting themselves too much or using up a lot of energy.
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