Yoga - What's your style?
With yoga being more popular than ever, there are even more methods coming to the mainstream - and if you’re getting a bit confused about all of the different styles of yoga and what some of them mean, then hopefully I can help below! I've put together a little beginners guide of some of the more popular yoga styles, so you'll know what to expect if you find a class you're not too sure about - and hopefully it gives you some information so you can decide if it's something you like to try.
Hatha – This is like the foundation of modern yoga. Hatha is one of the six branches of yoga, developed from Tantra yoga and translates to ‘yoga of forceful effect’. Pretty much every style of yoga you read about below has in some way come from Hatha yoga, it delves deep into the way the body connects to the breath whilst moving through postures.
Ashtanga – This is probably a style of yoga you’ve heard a lot, but you may not have practiced Ashtanga yoga in it’s purest form. It is made up of six set sequences, perform with a rapid flowing motion, with the breath linking every posture. There’s no doubt that it’s a pretty intense style of yoga practice.
Vinyasa Flow – Vinyasa is translated to “arranging something in a special way” and means to link movements together with breath. It was in a way developed by people who were rebelling against the ashtanga set sequences, wanting to explore something new. It’s very much built upon the ashtanga foundations, but vinyasa flow classes will be much more free and unrestricted. This can also be described as power yoga or just flow yoga.
Yin – A slow-paced style of yoga holding poses for around five minutes, with the aim of increasing circulation in the joints and flexibility and focuses on lengthening the connective tissue. It’s a more meditative style of yoga, looking at cultivating inner silence and giving the student an interconnecting quality.
Iyengar – It was developed by B.K.S. Iyengar and has emphasis on detail, precision and alignment in both the postures and pranayama (breath control). Expect to use a lot of props in an Iyengar yoga class, as this helps with the correct alignment, minimising the risk of injury or strain. It’s good to be aware that this doesn’t mean to expect an easy class – Iyengar is still very demanding on the body, mind and breath.
Kundalini – Kundalini yoga is focused around the energy in your body. It’s all about flowing movements that awaken that energy and feed it around the body. It is known as “the yoga of awareness” and aims to “to cultivate the creative spiritual potential of a human to uphold values, speak truth, and focus on the compassion and consciousness needed to serve and heal others.” Expect to see lots of people wearing white in Kundalini classes! Kundalini was a big part of my first 200 hour training, and often I like to include elements into my classes!
Bikram – I think sometimes there can be a slight confusion between this and ‘hot yoga’. Bikram was founded by Bikram Choudhury and is performed in a hot room (around 40°C) where you will perform a set 26 postures, twice each.
Restorative – This is all about finding that deep relaxation in a posture, to the point that you might stay in it for up to 20 minutes! Expect bolsters, blankets and eye pillows… basically like nap time for grown ups! I think restorative yoga is underrated, as these days people want a workout and a sweat. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, but we need to remember to give our body time to rest and this is the perfect way to do it. Again, this is something I teach, and in fact will have a new weekly Restorative class starting very soon!
Strala - Now this might not be one of the most common forms of yoga, but this is predominately the style I teach, after qualifying back in 2014 with my second 200 hour teacher training in New York with Tara Stiles. Strala classes move slowly and continuously, guided with deep breath and easygoing movement from your middle. Think of it as a gentle flow, where we focus more on the movement from pose to pose, rather than the pose itself. I love this style where we can all look completely different, but still get the same feelings and benefits from the class. I think I might need to write another blog soon with some more info for you!
Hopefully this little post helped clear a few things up for you. The world of yoga is a confusing one with so many styles, but the best thing you can do if to try as many as you can. A lot of the time it’ll come down to how much you like the teacher just as much as how much you like the actual practice itself!
If you have any questions at all then please do get in touch or leave me a comment