Types of yoga

Which types of yoga best suit you?

There are many types of yoga to choose from, and it makes sense to practice one that suits your personality, your current fitness level and your personal goals. This isn’t to say that sticking to just one style is necessary. Many yogis variate between different types of yoga for a holistic practice. However, there is also merit from focusing on one style so a deeper connection can be gained. At the end of the day, yoga practice is very personal and it is ultimately down to you to decide your route. And, your route may evolve over the years with experience, age, health, energy levels and who you meet on your journey. Here are 9 types of yoga – which sounds best suited to you?


Ashtanga yoga

types-of-yoga-ashtangaAshtanga yoga is a highly energetic and demanding type of yoga, made up of a sequence of poses that are always practiced in the same order.

One key concept of Ashtanga yoga is that movement between each pose is matched with the breath, therefore focusing the mind on the practice and not on everyday matters.

Also, by practicing the poses in the same order, eventually the mind can focus on improving each pose and performing the yoga to the absolute best ability, rather than thinking “what next”.

  • Perfect for
    • Weight loss
    • Detoxification (you are going to sweat!)
    • Clearing the mind and practising focus
  • Need to know
    • The poses, before your first Ashtanga class, especially if it is a Mysore practice. Opt for a “led-class” before trying a Mysore, as you need to master the primary series routine at least.

Read more: Style Summary – Ashtanga Yoga


Bikram yoga

types-of-yoga-bikramBikram yoga is the original hot type of yoga.

It is yoga practiced in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit with 40% humidity – it takes a while to acclimatise!

There are 26 yoga poses that are each performed twice. The increased heat allows the body to become more flexible by loosening up the muscles.

  • Perfect for
    • Gaining flexibility
    • Detoxification – sweat it all out!
    • Accessibility – Bikram yoga has become very popular so there are typically many classes available.
  • Need to know
    • Leave at least 2 hours from eating before doing a Bikram yoga class to avoid nausea in the heat.
    • Don’t forget a towel and drink plenty of water before and during practice.

Read more: Style Summary – Bikram Yoga


Hatha yoga

types-of-yoga-hathaHatha yoga (pronounced HAH-TA) is one of the original types of yoga and can be the name for any yoga class that teaches poses and asanas (breathing techniques).

It was traditionally the yoga used before meditation, to quiet the mind, and whilst Hatha yoga can still by physically challenging, it is possible to work at a slower pace whilst getting to know the fundamentals of yoga practice, like balance, flexibility and incorporating breath with each movement.

  • Perfect for
    • Beginners – get to grip with the poses that filter through many other types of yoga
    • Calming and de-stressing
    • Restoring and relaxing
  • Need to know
    • Ask the teacher the pace of their class to assess if the level is suitable for you.

Iyengar yoga

types-of-yoga-iyengarIyengar yoga is all about precision, and is one of the best types of yoga to learn the fundamentals of yoga properly.

During an Iyengar class, focus is paid to practicing poses, postures and asanas with meticulous alignment and accuracy. It sounds a bit cumbersome, and it’s not the type of yoga for you to work up a sweat, however, it is both mentally and physically challenging.

Yoga accessories are used too, such as blocks, harnesses, straps, blankets, ropes and bolsters, which help deepen stretches and achieve the right alignment.

  • Perfect for
    • All ages and abilities, particularly yogis who want to “get it right”
    • Building a superior foundation of yoga to then practice other styles
    • Injury recovery, as Iyengar yoga teachers undertake comprehensive training so are able to help
  • Need to know
    • If you have an injury, back or neck problem, speak with your Iyengar teacher

Kundalini yoga

types-of-yoga-kundaliniKundalini yoga is considered a spiritual experience, achieved through continually moving into invigorating poses aimed to release trapped energy that is believed to be held at the base of the spine.

This style often also involves chanting mantras and breathing techniques as well as meditation and relaxation.

The practice is aimed to be a mind and body workout and leaves yogis feeling energised and more grounded and focused.

  • Perfect for
    • Those looking for spiritual awareness
  • Need to know
    • The seven chakras, which is where the energy is directed to during the practice
    • That the postures are different to other types of yoga so be prepared to learn afresh – your kundalini teacher will lead the way though!

Power yoga

types-of-yoga-powerPower yoga is an energetic and athletic type of yoga, which became popular in the 80’s with westerners seeking a more aerobic workout.

Whilst it is an adaptation from Ashtanga, classes can vary significantly depending on the teacher and rarely will they perform the same sequence each practice, like the traditional Ashtanga.

All in all, it’s a high calorie burning yoga that puts all muscles in the body through their paces.

  • Perfect for
    • Athletes – although, be wary of letting your competitive side take over – Power yoga is challenging, even for the fittest!
  • Need to know
    • Ask in advance if the power yoga will be a “hot” class, as if so you need to prepare with suitable clothing and plenty of water.
    • Sometimes “Vinyasa” yoga classes are called “Power” yoga, and vice versa.

Triyoga

types-of-yoga-triyogaTriyoga, like Kundalini yoga, is one of the types of yoga known for enhancing spirituality, as it’s aim is to merge with the universal life energy source through specific breathing, a wave like spinal movement and “economy of movement”, engaging only the muscles required for that pose, which allows more energy to flow.

With Triyoga, yogis develop deep focus and awareness on all aspects of their practice and this yoga style is believed to improve emotional balance and mental clarity as well as a full range of physical benefits.

  • Perfect for
    • Yogis seeking to accelerate the transformation of body, mind and spirit and enhance awareness, intuition and self-confidence.
  • Need to know
    • It isn’t as mainstream as some other types of yoga.

Vinyasa yoga

types-of-yoga-vinyasa“Vinyasa” means “flow” in Sanskrit, and a Vinyasa yoga practice is exactly that; a continual flow of movement between each pose, choreographed by the Vinyasa teacher for a fluid experience.

Like other types of yoga, Vinyasa tests your physical abilities, improving flexibility, strength and balance. Each class will practice a combination of stretches, lunges, bends as well as inversions, such as shoulder or head stands.

It’s a highly energising type of yoga and although the foundations are similar to Ashtanga, no Vinyasa class is the same, so there is freedom to develop your practice with an element of creativity.

  • Perfect for
    • Those who don’t like routine and like to break the rules (a bit!)
    • Weight loss as Vinyasa is a high-calorie-burn yoga.
    • All abilities, including beginners, as you can push your physical limits according to your experience.
  • Need to know
    • Nothing specific, just get started!

Yin yoga

types-of-yoga-yinYin yoga is a quiet, contemplative type of yoga where poses can be held for a good length of time, typically 5 to 20 minutes! Sounds long doesn’t it?

However, Yin yoga is excellent for finding a peaceful space in the mind prior to mediation and it also allows the release of deep tension in key joints, such as the ankles, knees, hips, back and neck, which can compliment the practice of other yoga styles too.

  • Perfect for
    • Increasing flexibility and range of movement
    • Preparing for meditation or just stilling the mind
  • Need to know
    • It is un-useful to compare to others in the class and is important to work to improve your own strength and flexibility within your own limits.

Choosing which yoga will best suit you can be difficult and many types of yoga overlap in their essence. The best thing is to try a few and take your pick.

It may be that you opt to dedicate yourself to Vinyasa yoga, but do one class a week of Iyengar, to practice your alignment.

Or, you may decide to pursue Ashtanga yoga with a Yin class to allow yourself some quiet time too.

A good yoga centre with a range of available classes will be able to give you the help and guidance you need to choose the best route for you.

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