Yoga is a proven practice to strengthen both the mind and body, uniting movement and breath. It is a powerful tool and has been used for centuries as an alternative therapy and exercise method. One of the joys of yoga is that it is extremely versatile and suitable for all. There are many different yoga styles, meaning, if you don’t enjoy one, chances are, there’s another style out there that you will enjoy.
Hatha yoga is a gentle, traditional form of yoga. Generally, a Hatha yoga class is a great place for beginners to start, where you will learn a variety of basic yoga postures. Focus will be applied to breathing techniques and relaxation too.
Ashtanga yoga is a series of yoga postures, taught in the same order. You are likely to build up a sweat when practising Ashtanga yoga, it is quite a demanding practice. Each yogic movement is linked to a breath, making it similar to Vinyasa yoga.
Vinyasa yoga is somewhere between Ashtanga and Hatha yoga, in that it is a fluid class. It is usually well choreographed to make transitions between asanas smooth. The classes are varied, and more testing than Hatha yoga.
Bikram is a relatively new form of yoga, where you practice postures in a studio heated to 40 degrees. Bikram yoga follows a series of 26 poses, always in the same sequence, similar to Ashtanga. The series of postures is, however, different to Ashtanga. The idea of Bikram is that the heat will encourage you to stretch deeper as your muscles will be warm. Prepare to sweat a lot during a Bikram class.
Hot yoga is very similar to Bikram yoga, in that you are in an artificially heated studio. However, hot yoga does not necessarily follow a set series of movements in the same way that Bikram does. Two Bikram classes should always be identical. Two Hot yoga classes, may well be different.
Iyengar yoga is great for people who suffer with an injury or postural issues. Iyengar teachers have to undergo extensive training, ensuring they have great knowledge of alignment and the human body. Iyengar is a gentle, slow paced class, however it is still challenging to perfectly hold asanas for a continued amount of time. You will usually find lots of props in an Iyengar yoga studio.
New Yoga Styles
There are always new slants and variations coming onto the market, such as fitness yoga, broga and PiYo. It is worth the search to find a class which suits your needs and preferences.