With the skyrocketing popularity of yoga there are classes popping up all over the place, in studios, gyms, halls and schools, which offer a plethora of styles to choose from.
With so many options available it can be confusing to know where to start. I believe that yoga has something big to offer every one of us but not all styles will suit all bodies. Here I offer a brief description of some of the more popular styles so you can get a feel for what may work best for you;
Bikram. If you like heat and don’t mind getting super sweaty then this style has your name written all over it. The temperature in the room is cranked up to 40 C and for 90 minutes you will be led through a series of 26 postures and two breathing exercises. Not for the faint hearted, expect to be challenged and to sweat like you’ve never sweat before.
Yin. A slower approach. Think long juicy holds from anywhere between 1 – 10 minutes where you are encouraged to quieten, soften and lengthen. If rush is prominent in your life then look no further you may have just found your ideal yoga class!
Vinyasa Flow. This is fun, this is dynamic and this is physical. If moving, breathing and flowing from one posture to the next sounds like your kinda thing then get yourself along to a vinyasa class, you’ll never look back. Like every single one of these styles the teachers personality and experience can wildly change the experience, so shop around until you find a teacher whose classes light your fire. Also worthy of mention some vinyasa classes are practiced in heat (not to be confused with Bikram) and some are not. It’s simply a personal preference. Either way vinyasa flow is a more vigorous style, which suits those who look for more physicality on their mat.
Iyengar. Founded by B.K.S Iyengar this yoga is alignment based. This style is perfect for beginners also a good choice for those with injuries or chronic medical conditions. Don’t mistake this to mean an easy practice, challenged you will be. Those pictures you’ve seen – the ones with people laying back on chairs, sitting up on blankets, lassoed in a strap and draping over blocks, its highly likely you were looking at a snap taken of an Iyengar class, they are big on props.
Hatha. Hatha Yoga literally translates to the physical postures or the practice of yoga. If you are going along to a hatha class it is likely to be a slower paced more gentle class. Another goodie for the newbie as they are normally full with the more basic foundational postures and simple breathing exercises.
Kundalini. A more spiritual based practice with an emphasis on opening your heart and awakening energy from the base of your spine. If chanting, breath control and shifting energy is your idea of time well spent then start the google search for teachers near you.
And this list could go on and on, Anusara, Restorative, Jivamutki, Kripalu or Viniyoga (yoga therapy) – confused yet? Please don’t be. The similarities between styles are large too. Placing your bodies into different shapes that promote strength, flexibility and increased energy flow, check. Learning how to breathe well, check. An equal importance placed on mental, spiritual and physical health, check.
But the only real way to know if a style is the right one for you is to go along and give it a whirl ….. so give your health an extra shot of goodness and get to it!