Yoga has evolved over the years and developed into different styles from the traditional Hatha Yoga. There are so many variations of yoga out there that even if you do a class and find it is not for you do not despair, there are other styles you can try. Some people attend a Power Yoga class at their nearest gym and find they don’t like it because it was missing the calmness that they are looking for. Others try Yin Yoga and then never try yoga again because they are looking for something more challenging that will break a sweat. Make sure to try a variety of different styles.
Yoga studios will offer different types of yoga so it will be easier to give them all a go, at the gyms they usually offer the more strenuous styles of yoga like Power Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga and sometimes Hatha Yoga, so I would suggest you also try out different instructors because everyone teaches at a different pace and make’s it their own.Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels
Remember the body needs balance too. So, if you are constantly doing one style of yoga you are doing your body an injustice. It is just as important to build strength as it is to be flexible, to learn to breathe correctly and to be still.
Lets’ go through some of the most practiced styles of yoga:
This style is a bit slower paced. It incorporates asanas, which are the yoga postures, pranayama, which is breathing, and meditation. Hatha Yoga will take you through a sequence of asanas while pausing at each and holding them for a number of breaths. It is great for releasing tension in the body, calming the mind and bringing awareness to the mind, body and soul connection.
This type of yoga is very passive and slow. It entails holding asanas for long periods of time, sometimes for up to five minutes. Yin Yoga makes use of props like pillows, bolsters and blankets to assist you getting comfortable. Instead of tensing the muscles the purpose is to relax into the various poses thereby stretching the connective tissue and improving the flow of energy.
Vinyasa Yoga is all about flowing through a sequence of poses and uniting them with your breath. The pace can be rather quick, so you are bound to feel your heart beat and get a bit of a cardio workout. The goal is to move seamlessly in a meditative state from one pose to the next. The classes will vary as there is no set sequence, and they may incorporate some meditation and mantras.
This type of yoga seems to have originated more recently outside of the traditional yoga styles. Power Yoga has a fitness-based approach making it a vigorous Vinyasa practice with some elements of Ashtanga where it is focused on physical strength, internal stamina and flexibility.
If you are looking for an inward spiritual yoga practice then Kundalini Yoga might be for you. It combines everything from asanas, meditation, pranayama, chanting and mantras. It is focused on awakening the kundalini energy located at the base of the spine and moving it up along the spine towards the crown chakra reaching a state of self-awareness.
Iyengar Yoga is all about the detail and precision of each asana. Practitioners progress through asanas in a structured way and make use of props to ensure correct alignment. The poses are held for longer periods of time and increasing the duration as you progress.
This is a style of yoga performed in a heated room where you are sure to sweat. There is generally no set sequence unless you are doing Bikram Yoga, which follows a set of 26 poses in the same sequence for 90 minutes. These classes are challenging due to the added heat and humidity in which they are performed, for those that are naturally flexible it is important to take care not to overdo it and go beyond your limits.
This is a physically demanding type of yoga with a set sequence of poses where every class repeats the same six series of postures in the same order. Only once you have mastered the primary series will you move on to the next level, so this form of yoga requires commitment and dedication as it can take years to master and progress all the way through to the advanced series.
The list of yoga styles mentioned here is by no means exhaustive. There are more styles and variations out there and with yoga gaining in popularity there sure will be more. I encourage you to try different styles and different teachers, no one individual yogi teacher can cater to all, so it’s important for you to find a style and instructor that resonates with you.