As a certified yoga teacher and someone who has been practicing and loving yoga for well over 10 years, whenever I hear someone say that they don’t like the physical practice of yoga, I encourage them to try different styles of it. There are so many types of yoga out there that with a few visits to different classes and studios, you are bound to discover your love for a particular kind of yoga. Not to mention, you may find a teacher whose style you really vibe with and that can make all the difference for some.
Yoga can often be both a mental and physical challenge, as well as stress relieving, relaxing, spiritual, and so much more, but different types of yoga are going to emphasis these common traits on different levels. Knowing what each style is like and offers may help you to recognize what type of yoga you will most enjoy and benefit from.
This practice is a very structured Vinyasa-style focusing on a specific series of poses and was popularized by K. Pattabhi Jois. Students practice the same series at their own pace as the teacher gives adjustments and makes suggestions. There are five Ashtanga asana series, and the student must master every asana in the series before being able to move onto the next series.
This style of yoga teaches non-attachment, not only in class, but in all areas of life. It is also great for core strength and toning one’s body. Come to class prepared to sweat!
A Bikram class consists of the same two breathing exercises and 26 poses. The room is heated to 105 degrees and the class is broken into 45 minutes of standing poses, plus 45 minutes of floor postures. Bikram is a full body workout that is detoxing and mentally challenging. This style of yoga came from traditional Hatha yoga methods.
Often referred to as the Yoga of Awareness, Kundalini, is usually a 90-minute class that combines Raja, Bhakti, and Shakti yoga commonly including chanting, asana (poses), pranayama (breath work), mantras, mudras (body positions that influence the body’s energy + mood), and meditation. The goal of Kundalini is to awaken the kundalini energy located in the Root chakra at the base of the spine to lead to transformation and a higher connection to the spirit and self.
Kundalini is a deep experience and for those looking to connect to their higher self. It also helps to release stored and blocked energies within the body. You will leave class feeling rejuvenated and inspired. It is recommended to wear white to a kundalini class, as this is believed to extend your aura by at least a foot and is a protecting color. This is a MUST try as it is so therapeutic and something that truly needs to experienced.
This is a physically challenging and fast paced 60 to 90-minute class that includes a vigorous sequence of poses in a heated room. It is both a mentally and physically challenging working the mind and whole body. You will move from asana to asana seamlessly while connecting breath to movement. It can be just as stimulating as Ashtanga yoga, but a big difference is that in Vinyasa the sequences are never the same, making it great for someone who doesn’t like routine. This is a personal favorite of mine.
Hatha is a broad term including almost all types of modern yoga that we know today. It is one of the original six paths of yoga. A typical Hatha class will focus on a classical approach of yoga breathing exercises and postures for strength and flexibility. It will be gentle without flow between poses. This style of class is great for focusing on alignment and can even help you feel comfortable doing yoga poses, making it a great intro class.
This style of Hatha yoga, centered around the 8 limbs of yoga, was named after its founder B.K.S. Iyengar. It focuses on asanas (poses) and pranayama (breath control) and includes props like straps, harnesses, incline boards, and blocks to help you get into postures while focusing on perfect alignment and reducing chances of injury. I have found this to be a helpful class to take as a new and ever learning yoga teacher.
Yin or Taoist Yoga
One of the earliest forms of yoga, yin focuses on the body’s deep connective tissues and fascia like collagen instead of the body’s muscles, like most forms of yoga. Also, instead of alignment, yin focuses on relaxing into poses to get deeper into the body. These postures are typically held for 3 to 5 minutes at a time, they can be similar to postures you will find in a flow class, but the names are different. Yin focuses on the joints like the hips, spine, and sacrum. It has a meditative feel to it and can even help prep someone for a deeper meditation practice. It can also help with releasing stored emotions and toxins from the body. I personally love yin yoga, but it’s a style that isn’t for everyone.
This style of yoga is relaxing and stress relieving. It uses blankets, blocks, and bolsters to help students prop into poses comfortably without the body having to apply energy. Like yin, poses are usually held for longer time periods. You will leave class feeling calmer, rejuvenated, and well stretched. Hopefully, this run down has opened your eyes and mind to at least one style of yoga that has intrigued you. I personally believe that yoga is for everyone, it is just a matter of finding the right style of yoga that aligns with your personal needs, personality, and preference.
Keep an open mind and I guarantee you will end up leaving the right class for you saying, “I love yoga!”
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