Hot Vinyasa or Bikram? Hatha or Anu… what now? Sigh. While yoga itself is supposed to be a relaxing experience, understanding the differences between the many schools, styles and practices, can send your blood pressure through the roof.
Breathe in… we’ve got you covered. Whether you’re new to yoga or you consider yourself a full-blown yogi, deciphering the best yoga style for your whole self is part of the exciting journey towards uncovering your inner calm.
To help you identify the style best suited to your mindset, lifestyle and physical ability, here are eight of the most common yoga styles you may want to explore! Just remember that you don’t have to choose one type of yoga. Mixing up your practice is a great way to stay balanced and take care of your whole self (okay, go ahead and breathe out).
Hatha Yoga describes any yoga that includes postures, specifically the blending of asanas (postures or poses) and pranayama (breathing exercises) with the intention of preparing the body for meditation, and calming the mind.
Today, Hatha Yoga is used as a term to describe yoga classes normally geared towards beginners looking to relax and navigate their way into the practice of yoga. Unlike Vinyasa Yoga, which focuses on flow, Hatha Yoga classes involve holding postures for extended periods of time. The class can be expected to be gentle and slow and while you might not work up a sweat, you’ll definitely leave feeling wonderfully wobbly and entirely relaxed.
Serious about structure? Iyengar Yoga, a form of Hatha Yoga, is perfect for those Type A personalities looking to let loose in a very (ahem) structured way. Unlike other types of yoga that focus primarily on breathing or flow, Iyengar Yoga is concerned mostly with the alignment of the body while holding any given pose.
Iyengar Yoga classes involve holding a pose for much longer than you would when practicing other types of yoga, and, despite the lack of movement, can prove mentally and physically challenging. Iyengar Yoga classes make great use of blocks, belts, bolsters, chairs and blankets in order to help students on their journey to strike the perfect pose. Iyengar Yoga classes can be a bit intense — sensitive souls be warned!
Attention all hipsters. This one’s for you! One of the more modern yoga practices is that of Anusara Yoga. Anusara Yoga is a Hatha inspired practice that teaches the Universal Principles of Alignment developed by the school’s founder, while encouraging practitioners to follow their heart and uncover the intrinsic goodness that lies beneath. In desperate search of some positive vibes? Anusara Yoga might prove your perfect cup of (herbal) tea.
Vinyasa (Sankrit for the word “flow”) describes numerous styles of yoga that focus on the synchronization of breath and body flow. The flowing movement that includes a distinct set of poses is what differentiates Vinyasa from other styles of yoga. If you have a shorter attention span, Vinyasa is a great place to kick-start (or continue) your yoga journey.
Hot Vinyasa is a great way to vary up your Vinyasa practice, especially during the winter months as freezing temperatures send you in search of warmer climates —even temporary will do!
If you’re looking to jump right into the sweat of things, you might want to consider joining a level 1-2 Hot Vinyasa class where you’ll learn how to move safely into and out of yoga poses and how to use your breath to connect your mind and body. If you’re already familiar with Vinyasa Yoga, try a level 2-3 class, where you will work with various props to align and support your body. Love Vinyasa Yoga, but want to kick things up a notch? Try a Power Yoga class, which takes traditional Vinyasa to the next level!
Ashtanga Yoga is based on ancient yoga teachings and is made up of six series of asanas (set sequences of poses) designed to be fast-paced and challenging. Ashtanga Yoga focuses on the synchronization of the breath with a progressive set of postures, demanding constant movement.
While similar to Vinyasa, Ashtanga Yoga follows the same sequence in the exact same order, every time. If you’re new to yoga, you might want to try a few all-level Vinyasa classes before jumping head first into Ashtanga.
If it’s complete and utter relaxation you have in mind, Restorative Yoga might be the calm you seek. Restorative Yoga is a gentle, relaxing practice that helps you stretch out the stress of the workweek using props like bolsters, blocks, straps and blankets. In a Restorative Yoga Class, you’ll be provided with the support you need to relax, breathe in — and simply let go.
If you’re not one for surprises, you’re going to love Bikram. Regardless of where you go or who is teaching the class, Bikram Yoga classes are the exact same, every single time. While some might find this a tad repetitive, others enjoy the opportunity to perfect a set series of postures. Twenty-six postures in fact, coupled with two breathing techniques and 90 minutes of sweating out every toxin in your body, in a whopping 105 degrees Fahrenheit studio.
By now, you should have an idea of what kind of yoga might best fit your lifestyle, personality and physical strengths. If you’re still on the fence about where to start, try this fun quiz designed to help you find what kind of yogi is waiting to be unleashed!
If you’re ready to start on your very own yoga journey, we’d be happy to help and host you in our stunning studio located in Cross River. We offer a variety of yoga classes designed for beginners and experienced yogis alike! Check out all classes taking place at Yellow Monkey Village online and book today.
Are you a local resident joining us for the first time? Your first yoga class is on us. Give us a call for more details.