A Guide to Different Styles of Yoga

Yoga means different things to different people: the union of mind a body, connecting movement to the breath, moving the body through structured sequences, getting a sweat on, improving flexibility. There are many reasons why people come to yoga but also many reasons why people do not; the reasons I often hear almost always seem to relate back to not finding the right class. There really is something for everyone with so many different styles of yoga available.

Below I’m going to give a brief intro to some of the most popular/accessible types of yoga, this is in no way a comprehensive list with different niche classes popping up all the time but hopefully will give some insight.

Ashtanga
Yogis follow a set sequence of postures split into series. Each series is completed sequentially with students needing to be able to achieve each posture before moving onto the next. Each posture is held for 5 breaths counted by the teacher.

Bikram
Classes are held in a heated studio and a set sequence of 26 postures, each performed twice, are carried out each class. Towels are a must!

Hatha
A gentle form of yoga moving from one posture to another in a more static way than a vinyasa class.

Iyengar
A very alignment focused style of yoga which utilises props to help people find the correct alignment.

Jivamukti
Jivamukti means ‘liberation while living’ and is a vinyasa style practice which incorporates more spiritual elements such as chanting and music with students encouraged to live a yogic life.

Kundalini
This style of yoga is focused on energy and awakening spirituality within you. Classes involve chanting, breath work (pranayama), postures (asana) and meditation.

Restorative
Focus is on healing the mind and body postures being held for up to 20 minutes using lots of props, bolsters and pillows to enable to body to relax.

Vinyasa
Vinyasa classes flow from posture to posture focusing on connecting movement with the breath. It is more intense than Hatha but less structured than ashtanga. Vinyasa classes are usually heavily influenced by the ashtanga style.

Yin
Rather than working the muscles, yin works the joints and connective tissue within the body. Releasing tension and allowing energy to follow through the meridians in the body. Props are used to enable the muscles to relax to stress the joints and tissues. Postures are held for 3-5 minutes focusing on stilling the mind and letting go.

Some people love one specific style, others love a mix. What’s your favourite style of yoga and why? Comment below.

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