Yoga is like ice cream….
With so many flavours to choose from, it can be difficult to decide what style is right for you.
Yoga is thousands of years old, so many styles have been developed over the years.
Here’s a simple short guide (in no particular order) of what some of the Yoga styles have in store for you…. Asana (posture) practice is only one of the 8 limbs of Yoga and there are many other aspects to Yoga that people practice apart from a physical practice.
To keep it simple I speak here of only the physical practices of Yoga based in asana ( postures).
Vinyasa Yoga – quite a popular form of yoga, a sequence of (asana) postures that are synchronised with the breath. It’s usually done in a flow form, moving from one posture into the next, almost like a dance. The main flow is repeated, so even the most unco-ordinated can get to grips with it. Other postures then build on the sequence. This can be quite a fast based class, but you can take a break and join back in when you’re ready. There is no fixed sequence, so classes can vary- if you like to mix it up – this is for you.
Hatha Yoga – Not actually a style of yoga but a broad term for the physical practice of asanas (postures). Classes can be quite diverse in style and vary from teacher to teacher and from class to class. Generally postures are held for longer than a Vinyasa class and you have more time to explore and correct alignment. A Hatha class may incorporate meditation, pranayama ( breathing exercises) and it builds awareness of the body and mind connection. If you want to try Yoga… start here! If you want to build your body- mind connection and increase your awareness this is for you.
Yin Yoga – A series of passive floor postures, held for about 3- 5 mins, working deeper into the muscles. It is a quiet simple practice. While not building up a sweat like some of the Yoga styles this can be mentally challenging as you move deep into the muscles, working with the fascia and connective tissues. This really goes deep and the essence of this practice is yielding, letting go… and Acceptance. Props such as belts, bolsters, blocks are used to do the postures in a safe supported way. If you really want to work on flexibility – this is for you
Ashtanga Yoga –A very popular style of Yoga developed by K. Pattaabhi Jois. The asana (posture) practice of Ashtanga follows a series of set sequences. It can be fast paced and is the same sequence each time. There are different set sequences for each level of difficulty. If you like a strong practice, with regularity this is for you.
Iyengar Yoga – named after B.K. Iyengar. The emphasis here is on the correct anatomical alignment. The use of props to achieve this is encouraged. It’s slower paced and if you like attention to detail – this is for you.
Hot Yoga – This can be any style of Yoga, but it is taught in a heated room. It encourages sweating & can be therefore be more challenging. Classes can vary in length but typically 60 or 90mins. Take it easy as you get used to the heat! It can be fun and I would definitely bring water and a towel!
Mysore Yoga – Traditional Ashtanga/ Vinyasa practice where everyone practices at their own level, speed and ability. The teacher will offer adjustments and guidance as required.
Restorative yoga – A slower paced relaxing practice for deep relaxation.
The use of blankets, props ensures a supported, safe stable position with postures that allow you to completely relax.
If you need to unwind, recover and heal – this is for you.
Bhakti Yoga; The path of the yogi through devotion and surrender. The belief in something greater than yourself. Ishvara pranidhana. It may include mantra meditation, this is living with and through compassion.
Acro Yoga– This is where Yogis learn to fly! It centred on partner yoga – where one person is the ‘base’ and the other the ‘flyer’. Influenced by acrobatics, it can be challenging but fun!
Aerial yoga – Another way to fly – and you don’t need a partner. Also known as Anti – Gravity Yoga. Using silk hammock for support you can invert and swing from them. If you like ‘hanging around’ – this is for you
Therapeutic Yoga – Also called Yoga therapy. It’s a broad term for a Yoga class based on coming back from injuries, practicing in a mindful and healing way to promote recovery. If you want to get back moving after an injury – this is for you.
Bikram Yoga – Named after Bikram Choudhury. A 90min Yoga class, in a heated room with a set sequence of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. Every class will be the exact same no matter where you take it. If you like heat, to “go for it”, and the familiarity of the same sequence – this is for you.
Kundalini Yoga – Uses Kryias ( a preset series of poses done with specific breathing techniques), meditation, chanting mantra using mudra ( gestures – usually hand gestures). Kundalini students and teachers often wear white and head wraps but it is not obligatory.
SUP Yoga – Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga – It does what it says on the packet – fancy combining yoga, while on a stand up paddle board? – well then – this is for you!
Jivamukti Yoga – Vinyasa based style Yoga, classes can include shastra (scripture), Bhakti ( devotion), Dhyana (meditation), Nada (music) and ahimsa (kindness).
Dharma Yoga – Based on Sri Dharma Mittra’s own practice – includes the 8 Limbs of Ashtanga Yoga and also Raja, Bhakti, Mantra, Tantra and Kundalini Yoga.
Rocket Yoga – Developed by Larry Schultz – rooted in the Ashtanga tradition and taking postures from both the primary and intermediate series.
There are more styles of Yoga than what I’ve listed here – so it can be confusing for people! In essence – there is a Yoga style out there for everyone -by trying a number of them you’ll find what suits you. Or you may find you like a number of styles and switch around depending on your mood or what’s required on the day!
Whichever Yoga style you choose – try to really connect with what’s going on for you, pay attention but don’t take yourself to seriously.
Yoga is about accepting “what is” not what “should be”.
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