7 styles of yoga explained
Yoga is known for its amazing benefits – flexibility, toning and reduced stress, just to name a few. But let’s be real, there are a lot of yoga styles out there and it can be overwhelming to pick just one. So, we’ve pulled together this easy guide to get you clued up on the most common yoga styles. Whether you’re wanting to tone up those thighs or find your inner Zen, we can assure you, there’s a type of yoga out there for you.
Want a killer sweat session? Bikram is your yoga paradise. A series of 26 postures are practiced (twice over) in a 37-40 degree heated room over a 90-minute time period. We know, it sounds intense – but hear us out. The vigorous sequence in combination with the intense heat makes up for a real work out with epic benefits – like weight loss, muscle toning, reduced anxiety, improved sleep, balance and strength. Make sure you bring a sweat towel and plenty of water to this one!
Traditional yet challenging, try ashtanga for a structured approach to yoga that improves blood circulation and calmness of the mind. This method is all about matching your breath as you flow through the sequence. You’ll move quickly through the poses during this class so it’s best to try this style of yoga when you’ve moved up from beginner level.
Want the benefits of both meditation and fitness? This style of yoga appeals to fitness lovers for its fast-moving pace when transitioning from one pose to the next. When practicing vinyasa, it’s important to pay attention to the link between the flow of the movement and your breathing, which over time, enhances stamina. Some studios even jazz up the vinyasa style with modern pump music to maintain that motivation.
Feeling anxious? Restorative yoga is ideal for reducing stress levels and spiritually engaging with the mind and body. In order to focus solely on relaxation, blankets, bolsters and bricks are used so you’re not over-exerting themselves physically and able to hold poses for longer. Essentially, you’ll be laying down a lot – just try not to fall asleep!
If you’re a yoga newbie, Hatha is a great place to start. It’s all about balancing energy, both internally and externally. Essentially, Hatha yoga is the most classic type of yoga and incorporates gentle, slow-moving sequences. We’re talking a stretching focused session and a variety of breathing exercises that will leave you in a state of blissful relaxation.
Wanting to slow down and escape the everyday hustle bustle? Yin yoga holds poses for several minutes (ranging from 3 to 20 minutes), quite the opposite to the fast-moving vinyasa (flow). The focus is to lengthen the deep connective tissues of the muscles and as a result, promote the flow of energy within the body. If you fear you’re losing your flexibility, this one is a great way to maintain it through muscle movement and long position holds.
This practice has an intense spiritual focus with the intent of releasing untouched energy in the depths of the body. The poses are fairly repetitive which are practiced alongside a very particular breathing technique, drawing forth a heightened awareness of existence. The idea behind these movements are to strengthen the nervous and immune systems and promote the balance of spiritual energy. Instructors will often chant spiritual quotes and texts, uplifting students with motivation.
Words by Sophie Fisher.