Does looking at yoga schedules give you more confusion and a headache instead of relaxation. Vinyasa, Yin, Hatha, Bikram… What does all that mean? It can be a walk through a labyrinth to find out which yoga style is the right one for you. Here is an easy explanation of all common yoga styles and their popularity so you can choose which one suits you best.
Thank you to the 87 Yogis who took part in my online survey, by answering the question which yoga style they like the most. See the results down below on the cake chart:
This yoga style is very dynamic. It connects every posture with a flow, linking breath to movement. It can also be described as a yoga choreography with little breaks between the movements. Every vinyasa class is going to be different every time you go. If you are full of energy and like very dynamic yoga classes, this one is for you.
Hatha yoga is most likely the most common yoga class in the western country. Many yoga styles are a variation or have components of hatha yoga. It is a more gentle and slow form of yoga, connecting strength and stretching. Hatha is the best class to go as a yoga newbie to learn the most basic yoga postures.
Every ashtanga class starts with the opening mantra and is followed by a very dynamic style of yoga. Ashtanga yoga has 5 series which consist of a fixed sequence of poses with flows in between. These flows are called vinyasa, chakrasana, and samasthiti. It is recommended that the 5 sequences are practised in order due to its growing level of difficulty. The origin of Ashtanga yoga goes far back to 200 BCE to 250 CE where it was compiled by the sage Patañjali. The literal meaning of Ashtanga means 8 limbs. According to Patañjali it is necessary to follow these 8 limbs to achieve internal purification for revealing the universal self.
The 8 limbs:
- Yama /moral codes
- Niyama /self-purification and study
- Asana /posture
- Pranayama /breath control
- Pratyahara /sense control
- Dharana /concentration
- Dhyana /meditation
- Samadhi /absorption into the universe
If you want to give ashtanga yoga a try I can highly recommend this Youtube-video for self-practice.
Power yoga doesn’t have its roots in India, and is more likely a product of the western gyms, transforming yoga into a pure fitness routine. It doesn’t involve a lot of chanting or meditation in the classes and can be described as an intense workout. If you are looking for a yoga class which makes you sweat and gives you guaranteed muscle pain with very less spiritual teaching that’s the one for you.
Hot yoga can be any style of dynamic yoga performed in a heated room. Due to its detoxifying effects, hot yoga becomes more and more popular in the yoga world. My advice is to wear light clothes and invest in a yoga matt with has a good grip. If you tend to have circulation problems or you are pregnant its best to skip this kind of class.
Bikram yoga is the hardcore version of hot yoga. It comes originally from hatha yoga. The asanas in this class are a set of 26 poses, always in the same order. Bikram yoga takes place in a room heated up to 40 degrees Celsius (105 degrees) and has to be thought by a certified bikram yoga teacher. The set temperature and sequence of the class is the main difference to hot yoga. In the beginning, it might be hard to follow the sequence, since the Yoga teacher mostly speaks you through the practice instead of showing it in front of you.
Yin yoga is a slow and gentle yoga style where one single pose can be held up to 20 minutes. It is the perfect balance for most other yoga styles which are yang (dynamic, fast, muscular). Holding the postures benefits the deeper tissues of the body such as the ligaments, joints and bones, which cannot be reached with yang style yoga. Most postures during yin yoga are passive, which means that you can relax while holding the asana and can use the time for meditation.
Acro yoga might be becoming the most popular yoga trend in the western countries. It consists of three main limbs: Yoga, acrobatics, and Thai-massage. Since acro yoga is practised with one or more partner, it helps to gain trust in another person and can, therefore, help with trust issues in everyday life. It is recommended to practice acro yoga with at least two more partners. In this constellation, everyone takes a certain part.
- The base is the person on the ground forming the base of the posture.
- The flyer is lifted by the base into dynamic, flying-like postures.
- The spotter is responsible for checking if the base and spotter are not wrongly aligned. The base can also help with balance issues.
Iyengar yoga is a performed with precision and a lot of detail to the correct alignment of each pose. Poses can also be held for a long period of time. Iyengar is well known to improve the overall posture in everyday life and great for yoga beginners who are not quite sure of the right alignment yet.
A kundalini yoga class connects asanas, meditation, chanting, and kriyas (cleansing method), with the intention to activate energy centres throughout the body. These are the seven chakras. Each chakra has its own function in the body which keeps us healthy. The asanas (poses) of this special yoga style are very rhythmic and therefore corrects imbalances in the chakras. If you are looking for a yoga style with a spiritual background kundalini yoga is the class to go.
The seven chakras:
Yoga nidra is a yoga practice which helps to quiet the mind and discovering your inner self. It is practised in corpse pose with a yoga teacher guiding you through the practice. It has no movement involved and can be seen as a form of meditation.
See here for a full beginners guide to yoga nidra.
Restorative yoga, as you can tell already by the name, is the most relaxing and calming yoga style offered by studios. This yoga class mostly involves boulsters, blankets, pillows, and blocks. You will be resting in calming yoga postures for a certain amount of time, which will give you an amazing restorative effect.
Prenatal yoga is a practice specified for pregnant women. It involves many aspects of yoga. Like asanas to build up strength and flexibility or pranayama and meditation as a stress reliever during labour.
Do you want to take your yoga practice to another level? Then you should consider taking part in a 200-hour yoga teacher training. Check out my blog post on the 6 amazing advantages you will benefit from while taking part in a yoga teacher training.
Thank you for dropping by and reading my blog post! Namaste 🙂