If you’re thinking of starting yoga practice, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed with trying to decide which class is right for you. There are lots of different traditional yoga practices, as well as a huge variety of hybrid yoga classes, which can make trying to pick a style confusing.
Here’s a quick guide to a few different types of yoga, and how to choose the right type of yoga for you.
A hatha yoga class is great for beginners, who want to learn the basics of yoga. This is because the movements are slower than other types of yoga. There is more focus on alignment and deep breathing, with longer posture holds and no flow in between asanas. It’s a great place to start before trying out more advanced and fast yoga styles.
Yin yoga is based on the Taoist concepts of yin and yang. Yang here represents more athletic activities, which generate heat in the body, while yin is the softer and restorative activity that heals the body. Yin yoga was actually developed to help practitioners go deeper into the muscles and target joints and ligaments through passive stretching.
Yin yoga is slow in pace and is usually held in silence, with each pose being held between one and 20 minutes. Traditionally, yin classes feature very little movement and consist of between 18 to 24 floor postures to stimulate meridians. This type of yoga class is ideal for people who want to build up their flexibility and improve their joint stability and heal muscular tissues. It is also a great style of yoga for those who are looking to unwind and destress and balance their body and mind.
Kundalini yoga is a different style of yoga than you might be used to. It’s a very spiritual style that is centered around chanting and meditation. Kundalini translates as ‘a spiritual energy’, and Kundalini yoga’s aim is to channel and awaken this energy.
These classes can be very physically demanding and are ideal for those who are looking for more spirituality in their yoga practice. This type of yoga can help you feel a shift in energy, although they can be pretty tough for beginners. Kundalini sequences typically consist of asanas combined with breathing exercises to awaken each particular chakra. Classes open with a short chant, then usually have a warm-up sequence focusing on spine flexibility, then an asana sequence, and a closing meditation.
Vinyasa translates to ‘placing in a special way’, and it refers to the sequence of yoga poses. Vinyasa yoga focuses on moving and linking together postures in a fluid way. It can be quite physically demanding and requires you to move your body in time with your breath.
Every vinyasa class can be different, and you can expect to use props or music depending on your teacher's preferences. Most vinyasa flows incorporate moves such as sun salutations, warrior poses, and lots of backbends and inversions. This type of yoga is ideal if you’re looking to tone up and build up your flexibility.
Ashtanga yoga is based on ancient teachings and was popularised in the late 1970’s in India. Ashtanga yoga is challenging and fast-paced - it consists of six pose sequences that are practiced in gradual progression. You need to focus on the connection between your breath and the pose itself, as you flow through the sequence in breath-synchronized movements at your own pace.
This is a very structured yoga practice that is ideal for athletic people. You need to commit to at least 3-4 times a week, and be prepared to move through some tough arm balances.
Power yoga is a very athletic practice of yoga that is a great workout if you want to push yourself! It incorporates lots of fluid movements with strengthening postures in between, to help build strength. It’s a good practice if you want to push yourselves and work up a sweat, but it’s not the most beginner-friendly practice - so if it’s your first time, maybe work up to this style.
Aerial yoga is a unique style of yoga that uses silk hanging from the ceiling to help support and deepen the poses. It can also be called anti-gravity yoga. This type of yoga typically consists of inversions, and you may need some upper body strength to help lift yourself up on the hangings. Aerial yoga can be quite fun and liberating and is great to help back pain through its gentle spine stretches.
Iyengar yoga was developed and popularized by a famous yogi named B.K.S Iyengar. This type of yoga focuses on proper alignment and uses lots of props like blocks and straps to help you achieve this. Iyengar yoga features a lot of stillness, and you’ll find yourself holding poses rather than moving with your breath. This type of yoga is great for if you are struggling with injuries, or are less than flexible.
The truth is, there are countless styles of yoga. While finding your preferred style makes it more likely you show up on your mat consistently, don't be afraid to branch out. It'll keep you from becoming stagnant and plateau-ing in your yoga journey, and also work new muscles in your body.
By Amy Cavill
On YogaDownload.com, you can try Yin, Power, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, or Iyengar, to get different takes on yoga and find the right style for you!
Different Styles of Yoga Explained
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