The other day I invited a good friend of mine to a yoga class. Not one I was teaching personally however, I knew the teacher quite well and enjoy taking her classes. My friend looked at me ever so sweetly and stated, “I will never take another yoga class again.” Clearly as a yoga teacher I wanted to know immediately why. She began to tell me of the one and only class she ever took back in college, she felt the teacher overstepped in ways of adjusting and the poses were held for far too long, putting a lot of stress on her body that had never moved this way previously. Of course this is not every teacher or every class, I for one am extremely careful as far as adjusting and try to take visual cues from my students to determine if we need to move out of a particular pose. That being said, there are so many different forms of yoga, I am going to go over a few and what they entail to ensure you are able to determine one that is correct for you. One bad experience can clearly send some people running.
Iyengar – Based off the guru himself, B.K.S Iyengar, the main focus is proper alignment and what you need to get there. There is a great use for props, in fact props were coined by this style. If you are having trouble moving into a pose comfortably you may be given a chair or a block. It does not mean that this is be an easy peasy class so, do not let the props fool you. This style is nice for any and all ages since it does offer so many options to get into a pose safely. If you would like to read more up on B.K.S Iyengar as he is very well known in the yoga community and has influenced so much, I recommend this book, Light on Yoga: The Bible of Modern Yoga .
Hatha – One of the original six branches of yoga, Hatha focuses on pranayama, breath work, and asanas, yoga poses, together. Utilizing these two together, the breath is used with the movement. Many studios vary in this type however, it is generally a more gently flow, holding the poses for a few breaths.
Vinyasa – This is a more western style of yoga, also known as power yoga, appeals to more “exercise” driven. The poses tend to vary pertaining to the teacher. This style is more likely what you will find at your local gym as well. It tends to be more vigorous with a focus on sun salutations. While it may be more rapid, it is a nice continuous flow so, you will not be holding poses for a very long time.
Bikram – Also known as, hot yoga. The room is generally 105 degrees Fahrenheit, studio pertaining, with low humidity. The heat warms up the muscles faster, making it easy to get deeper into the poses. This style focuses on the 26 basic postures each time so, you never have to worry about being thrown curve ball. Consistency is key to this style. You are going to sweat out ALL toxins, trust me. This was one of the first styles I ever tried and I loved it. That being said ,I have some recommendations if you have never attended. Hot yoga towel for you and one for your mat. Do not eat anything heavy beforehand, I stuck to an apple about an hour before. Water, a lot. The towels below I own personally and work perfectly without slipping during your flow.
Yin – This style is also known as Taoist yoga. Known for being a meditative style, you are suppose to let gravity assist as you relax into the poses. This style moves very slow and you will be holding the poses for about five minutes. Focusing on relaxing and patience with your body during these periods of time.
Kundalini – A favorite of mine and if you have read the previous posts, suiting as we just went over the chakras and Kundalini. Intended to release our serpent spirit, Kundalini. Constantly moving with chanting, gong work, mantras, meditation and repeated movement, this style offers it all with great impact on body and mind. It will look and feel different from any style you have tried and it will be an experience. If you are interested in what exactly awakening Kundalini can entail, Kundalini Rising: Exploring the Energy of Awakening breaks down what some people experienced firsthand.
So there you have it, a few different types of yoga styles you may find at your local studio. There are quite a few others out there so, do not think that this is all, the yoga world is vast and ever-changing. I recommend trying a few and hopefully this post will help you choose one you will enjoy.
Good luck to you, namaste!