Finding The Right Style Of Yoga For You04/03/2021, Yogagise Yoga, Sarah Highfield
When most people think about yoga, they often conjure up images of Lycra-clad yogi’s turning themselves into human pretzels and chanting ‘om’, and while this may be the case for some yogi’s, it isn’t for many others.
As a yoga teacher myself, one of my favourite aspects of yoga is that there are so many different styles to choose from, which all offer a very different experience, that it’s near impossible to not find a style which you enjoy and resonate with.
On the spectrum of physical yoga types, at one end you will find the deeply restorative style of Yoga Nidra a.k.a. yogic sleep, while at the other end, you will find the more dynamic and fast-paced, power yoga. In order to help you understand the different types of yoga and their benefits, here are the main styles of yoga which you will come across in yoga studios & classes:
Power yoga is an active and athletic style of yoga, created in the USA in the 1980s. Power yoga classes move quickly through the poses and each pose is held for only three to five breaths. Power yoga has become popular in the Western world for its fitness-centric approach to yoga and practitioners are often drawn to it for its exercise properties.
VINYASA FLOW YOGA
Vinyasa flow yoga focusses on syncing movements of the body with the breath. Practitioners will flow from one pose to another, linking poses with ‘vinyasas’, which are smooth and uniform transitions. Many other types of yoga can be considered vinyasa flow yoga such as Ashtanga yoga and power yoga. It’s an ideal style of yoga for those who like to keep moving and enjoy a varied class.
Founded by B.K.S. Iyengar, Iyengar yoga places a strong focus on physical alignment and attention to detail within the pose, thus, the class won’t ‘flow’ in the same way as other types of yoga. This style of yoga is really good for those who want to fully explore and understand each yoga pose. It can also be beneficial for people who are working with injuries as props are used to help you move safely into each pose.
The Sanskrit term ‘hatha’ is an umbrella term for all physical postures of yoga. Hatha yoga is a simple style of yoga focused on the poses and conscious breathing. It’s a great entry-level style of yoga as it’s easy-to-follow and moves at a gentle & accommodating pace.
Developed by the late K. Pattabhi Jois, Ashtanga yoga is a physically demanding style of yoga made up of six series, which get increasingly more difficult, so this style of yoga is definitely not for beginners. It’s perfect for people who are experienced with yoga, enjoy a structured practice and want to move at a dynamic pace.
This style of yoga is centred around releasing Kundalini energy in your body, which is believed to be trapped, or coiled, in the lower spine. Kundalini yoga incorporates breathwork, mantras, mudras, meditation and dynamic movement. It is often viewed as a more ‘spiritual’ type of yoga and perfect for people who also enjoy the singing & dancing aspect of kundalini.
This style of yoga is good if you like to sweat while you stretch. It was previously known as Bikram yoga and developed as a set series of poses to be practised in extreme heat (41 degrees Celsius) by Bikram Choudhury. More recently, hot yoga is no longer using the Bikram method, allowing for more gentle yoga poses, and is less extreme in terms of the temperature that it is done at.
Mother’s-to-be find that prenatal yoga is helpful for preparing their mind and bodies for their impending arrivals. Much of the yoga is centred around opening the hips and maintaining a strong back. There is also an emphasis on relaxing breathing exercises and techniques, which can be used during labour.
Jivamukti yoga was created by David Life and Sharon Gannon in 1984. It is a physical, ethical, and spiritual practice, combining a vigorous yoga as exercise, vinyasa-based physical style. Many people are drawn to this style of yoga for its strenuous workout along with the more traditional yoga features, such as chanting and meditation. The term ‘Jivamukti’ is derived from Sanskrit and translates as ‘liberation while living’.
Forrest Yoga was developed by Ana Forrest in 1982 to counteract the discomforts of modern life, such as the aches and ailments caused by extended sitting and hunching over computers, devices and steering wheels. In Forrest Yoga movement and breath are linked together to calm the mind and body, and develop strength and confidence, a lot of people feel that it is a very ‘healing’ style of yoga.
Acro yoga emerged in the USA around 2003, it is a style of yoga that combines itself acrobatics and is practiced with a partner. It’s perfect for those who are comfortable working with others, especially since teamwork is required, and want to experience a more playful type of yoga.
Yin yoga was developed in the early 1970’s and is rooted in the Chinese Taoist philosophy of being at one with everything and being in harmony with your own nature. The profoundly relaxing poses are typically held for between 3-10 minutes, allowing for a deeper release.
A deeply calming style of yoga, restorative yoga is designed to strengthen and train the nervous system and prepare you for stressful situations. Props such as blocks, blankets and sandbags are often used to help you rest in each pose. A restorative yoga class is very slow and some classes will only have around 6-8 poses in the space of an hour, so that you can fully relax and enjoy each pose.
Yoga Nidra or yogic sleep is a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping, like the ‘going-to-sleep’ stage, typically induced by a guided meditation. It is done lying on your mat with a blanked over you, and often an eye pillow. While you should avoid falling completely asleep during the class, many people find that they do! It is believed that one hour of yoga Nidra, is the equivalent of three hours of regular sleep, so it’s ideal for those who have trouble sleeping.
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|About The Author|
Born in Hong Kong and based in London, Sarah Highfield is a leading international yoga teacher. She is the founder of Yogagise Yoga and believes there is a style of yoga for everyone.