Interested in yoga but confused about which style to try? Here's Oli with an overview and tips on how to find a kind of yoga that works for you.
As a yoga teacher, I get asked daily about which yoga is right, wrong, better or worse. Truthfully, you need to find a style that speaks to you, which can be hard to do when you don't know what the differences are!
anusara: Playful. Expect to laugh and go upside down.
ashtanga: Athletic and vigorous.
bikram's: Consistent poses and very heated.
hatha: Foundation for many yoga styles. Great for beginners.
hot: Make sure to bring a towel - or two!
iyengar/restorative: With a focus on structure, usually uses blocks, straps for support.
kundalini: Focused on meditation and breathing.
power: An athletic and physically challenging style.
vinyasa/flow: A rhythmic class with lots of movement. Great for your 3rd or 4th class.
yin: A slow class that will take you deeper than you've ever gone.
Keep reading for the extended version of the above list to help you find a style that's right for you.
Expect a playful class with a strong focus on proper alignment and Tantric yoga philosophy (not what you're thinking). It (like most yoga) is derived from Hatha yoga.
This practice is very athletic and made up of six vigorous series of postures. It's one of the oldest forms of yoga and is considered to be the foundation of much of the yoga we see today in the west.
You're going to sweat in a Bikram's class, more than you ever thought was possible. Bikram yoga consists of 26 postures and breathing exercises repeated twice (that’s right 90 minutes) in a room heated to 105 degrees. Heads up - humidity is 40% and will knock you over the first time.
The foundation of every style of yoga mentioned here. Traditional Hatha yoga is a holistic path that includes disciplines, physical postures (asana), purification procedures, breathing (pranayama), and meditation. Hatha practiced in the West consists of mostly physical postures and is also recognized as a gentle introductory yoga for people new to yoga.
By adding heat it is said that classes will help you lose weight, loosen your muscles (by adding increased range of motion) and improve your cardiovascular system. It differs from Bikram's in that the series of postures are not always (but can be) in any particular order and modifications are often offered.
Expect a class emphasizing healing the body and mind through use of supported postures. One of the oldest forms of yoga, it’s for a person who loves technical intricacies and is also great for people who are new to yoga or have any issues with their health.
Don't be surprised if your waving your hands like you just don't care or laughing uncontrollably (it's a type of meditation- I swear), this practice is intended to wake up the kundalini energy coiled at the base of your spine while activating chakras (energetic centers in the body), as well as detoxing the body and mind.
Many say Power yoga is the Western interpretation of Ashtanga. It is sometimes done in a heated room and focuses on the breath as fuel for the practice. This practice can be challenging for beginners, but is a nice balance to more gentle forms of yoga once you become comfortable with the different postures.
Derived from Ashtanga yoga, expect a class full of rhythmical flow (often combined with music) connecting each moment with unifying pranayama (breath). Classes can be more meditative or focused on the natural movement of the body, almost like dancing through postures. A great transition from Hatha when you’re looking for more of a challenge.
Some believe that Yin yoga is the oldest form of Hatha yoga, since it is the ideal method of physical conditioning for prolonged meditation. Don't let the props and gentle movement fool you, this is not a form of restorative yoga. The long holds require that you focus and release all effort from the muscles.
Yin classes often use props like bolsters or blocks.
last but not least
Remember: your body is your best guide. You don’t have to stick to one kind of yoga, just do what your body needs!
There are many other styles not mentioned here that I encourage you to discover for yourself. Finally, if their is one piece of advice I can leave you with is: if it doesn't feel right, don't do it.
Want to try a complimentary yoga class? If you live near a lululemon location, find a complimentary yoga class near you.