Styles of Yoga
Finding the right class can be a bit of a minefield. Different styles and teachers all approach yoga from a different perspective meaning yoga classes can be dramatically different from one another. And when you're just starting out, it can make finding a class that you enjoy pretty tricky...
So, here is a run down of some of the most popular styles of yoga - the ones you'll probably find being advertised near you, or online.
If you’re a beginner, I’d always recommend checking with the teacher that the class you want to attend is beginner-friendly. As not all classes will be suitable for beginners - I'm looking at you Ashtanga!
Hatha - a steady-paced class, where you’ll work on key asanas (postures). These may be linked in a flowing sequence, but key poses will generally be held for about 3-5 breaths. This gives you time to learn more detail about the posture and get to grips with alignment. Beginner-friendly hatha classes are a great place to start as most other styles are based off of this one.
Vinyasa - a flowing practice where you move in time with your breath. Poses are generally not held for long as you continue to move from one to the next. Expect to get sweaty in this kind of class!
Hatha-flow - A mix between hatha and vinyasa, you might find slightly more creative transitions or sequences than a more traditional hatha class. And will consist of a mix between flowing with the breath and holding postures for longer.
Ashtanga - A strong practice that follows a set sequence. This means that you will be doing the same sequence of postures every class until you progress to the next series. Generally, Ashtanga is not suitable for complete beginners unless the class states otherwise.
Yin - a slow, generally floor-based practice. Aimed at stretching muscles and releasing fascia (the connective tissue in the body). You can expect to hold postures for at least 90 seconds, but you could be holding them for up to 5 minutes depending on the length of the class. As this class is based around stretching, it can feel quite intense, despite its slow pace. It’s great for working on mental resilience and flexibility.
Restorative - also a very slow practice but this time the focus is on relaxation. The aim is not to stretch or activate the body, but to relax. Expect to use lots of props and be guided into some very comfortable positions. You’ll be holding each pose for an extended period of time so you may only do 5 or 6 poses in an hour-long class. Generally no previous yoga experience is required, and the biggest challenge of this class is to not fall asleep!
Chair - This is a seated practice where you may practice seated in the chair for the whole class or use it to support your standing and balancing postures. Ideal for those with low or compromised mobility, recovering from an injury, or just want a gentler practice. You’ll get all the mental and physical benefits of a yoga class while ensuring you’re supported and safe.
There are many, many more out there - like Kundalini, Iyengar, hot yoga, power yoga, Tantric yoga…
The list goes on and on, but hopefully these give you an idea of some of the classes you might see offered near you.
I’d recommend trying out lots of different options as you may find there’s a particular style that feels better for you.
If you found this helpful and want to find out more about all things yoga - check out some of my other posts. I cover the philosophy of yoga, dive into what savasana is and how yoga can be beneficial for your mental health.
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