The decision is yours to make. But, what style suits you? There are as many different styles of yoga available now that it can become confusing for a newbie. I mean how can you tell the difference between Anusara and Ashtanga? Or Hot Yoga and Hatha?
Here we’ve pulled together a guide of 8 major styles of yoga for you. There are many others of course; but this is a great place to start.
Hatha yoga is maybe one of the best beginner’s yoga styles. Here we’re taught physical postures. Interestingly nearly every type of yoga class taught in the West is Hatha yoga. When a class is marketed as Hatha, it generally means that you will get a more diciplined introduction to the most basic yoga postures. After Hatha classes you will end up leaving class feeling longer, looser, and more relaxed.
Vinyasa (pronounced “vin-yah-sah”) is a Sanskrit word for a phrase that roughly translates as “to place in a special way,” referring—in Hatha yoga—to a sequence of poses. Being taught fluid, movement-intensive practices the Vinyasa teachers sequence their classes to smoothly transition from pose to pose. The intention is to link breath to movement, often with music to keep things lively. Moving with this intensity is similar to Ashtanga, but no two Vinyasa classes are the same. What a wonderful style if you hate routine and love to test your physical limits, Vinyasa may be just your ticket.
Restorative yoga is a delicious way to relax and soothe frayed nerves. Also described as yin yoga, restorative classes use bolsters, blankets, and blocks are used to prop us into passive poses so that we can experience the benefits of a pose without having to exert any effort. Being in a good restorative class is more rejuvenating than a nap. Studios and gyms often offer them on Friday nights, when just about everyone could use some profound rest.
Kundalini yoga is a form of yoga that involves chanting, singing, breathing, exercises and repetitive poses. This is known as the energy that lies dormant at the base of the spine which we activate and channel upwards through the chakras. Absolutely well-known to help activate your Kundalini energy or shakti. Kundalini or Shakti is believed to be the power associated with the divine feminine. Participating in this style of yoga builds strength and resilience as our true strength comes from our core energy not our muscles. As we know – when our energy is low, our body and spirit feel weak and challenged. Channeling that energy will help to rebuild your strengths from within. Learning this technique is the best for mental health as it is known as the yoga of awareness.
Hot yoga is largely the same thing as Bikram. Generally, the only difference between Bikram and Hot yoga is that the Hot yoga studio deviates from Bikram’s sequence in some small way, and so they must call themselves by another name. In the heated room you will sweat buckets, so check out mats and accessories specifically designed for hot yoga classes.
Iyengar yoga was developed and popularized by B.K.S. Iyengar (pronounced “eye-yen-gar”) who actually introduced yoga to western society. Here we are being taught a more diciplined form of Hatha yoga. You will pay utmost attention to finding the proper alignment in a pose. The thought is that the pose doesn’t begin until you want to actually stop. In order to help each student find the proper alignment, an Iyengar studio will stock a wide array of yoga props — blocks, blankets, straps, chairs and bolsters are all common. There isn’t a lot of jumping around in Iyengar classes, so you likely won’t get your heart rate up as much as other styles, but it’s amazing to discover how physically and mentally challenging it is to stay put. Iyengar teachers must undergo a comprehensive training — if you have an injury or chronic condition, Iyengar is probably your best choice to ensure you get the knowledgeable instruction you need.
Developed by American yogi John Friend in 1997, Anusara yoga is a relative newcomer to the yoga world. Based on the belief that we’re all filled with an intrinsic goodness, Anusara seeks to use the physical practice of yoga to help students open their hearts, experience grace, and let their inner goodness shine through. Classes, which are specifically sequenced by the teacher to explore one of Friend’s Universal Principles of Alignment, are rigorous for the body and the mind.
Ashtanga is based on ancient yoga teachings, but it was popularized and brought to the West by K. Pattabhi Jois (pronounced “pah-tah-bee joyce”) in the 1970s. It’s a rigorous style of yoga that follows a specific sequence of postures and is similar to Vinyasa yoga, as each style links every movement to a breath. The difference is you will always perform the exact same poses in the exact same order. This is a sweaty, physically demanding practice, so make sure to bring your trusty yoga mat and towel.
A Bit about Ann Green
One of the best people to discuss various types of Yoga with is Ann Green at BLiSS Yoga Studio. As an international world class athlete, Ann brings confidence and has the training and wisdom to help you choose what would work best for you.
When choosing a class at BLiSS get ready for fun, phenomena and wisdom of the mystical power inside. Just remember, there are more options than are listed here; so don’t forget to ask about them.
Written By: Jane Laker
Photo Credits: Veronika Kovecses, Stephen Elliott, Ann Green, Kristen Pirie