I’ve had many chats with fellow yogis and one of the most common one is ‘so what type of yoga do you do’. There are so many choices out there to choose from, where to start? Each yoga style has its individual benefits and from experience I can recommend just joining classes and experimenting. What works for one yogi doesn’t necessarily work for the next.
Here is a quick guide to a few of the yoga styles out there
HATHA The direct translation of Hatha yoga in Sanskrit is “ha” – meaning sun; “tha” – meaning moon and Hatha is the foundation of all Yoga styles. If you attend a Hatha class it will probably be slow-paced and gentle and provide a good introduction to basic yoga poses.
VINYASA Vinyasa means breath-synchronized movement and tends to be a more vigorous style based on the performance of a series of poses called Sun Salutations, in which movement is matched to the breath. A Vinyasa class will usually start with a number of Sun Salutations to warm up the body and move on to more intense stretching later on in class.
ASHTANGA Ashtanga, which means ‘eight limbs’ in Sanskrit, is a fast-paced, intense style of yoga. A series of asanas are performed in the same order. Ashtanga practice is very physically demanding because of the constant movement from one pose to the next.
IYENGAR Based on the teachings of the yogi B.K.S Iyengar, this style of practice is concerned with body alignment. Iyengar usually emphasizes holding poses over long periods and there are a number of props, such as yoga blankets, blocks and straps used, in order to bring the body into alignment.
KUNDALINI Kundalini is an extremely ancient Indian yoga method incorporating breathing, asanas (postures), chanting and meditation, all designed to awaken latent energy. Kundalini uses rapid, repetitive movements rather than poses held for a long time. Each class follows a series of kriyas (exercises) as originally written by Yogi Bhajan. Kundalini Yoga is the style of yoga we offer at Balanced Wellness
BIKRAM Pioneered by founder, Bikram Choudhury, who was a gold medal Olympic weight lifter in 1963. Bikram yoga is practiced in an 80-105 degree room, which helps tight muscles relax and causes a lot of sweating, thus aiding the cleansing benefits of the practice. The Bikram method is traditionally a set of 26 poses is a class usually 90-minutes long.
I read somewhere that different yoga styles are like many different rivers running towards to the same ocean. It doesn’t matter which yoga style you choose, as long as you start the journey. I quite liked this description so whatever ‘river’ floats your boat, happy sailing!