Yoga has long been and still remains one of the most popular forms of exercise for people of all ages and different fitness levels. Good not just for the body but the mind too, there are countless reasons why people choose to practice this ancient Indian discipline, whether it be to get fit, reduce stress, clear your mind, or just about anything else. Making the decision to practice yoga is a great start, however it can be rather overwhelming knowing just where to begin. With so many types of yoga out there it is understandably quite confusing picking which is best for you, that’s why we have put together a beginner’s guide to the different yoga styles.
A slower paced class, Hatha is ideal for beginners who are just getting to grips with the different yoga poses. In a Hatha class you are required to hold poses for a few breaths at a time, giving you the chance to perfect the pose. As a slower paced class, this is a great option for beginners looking to gradually improve their fitness levels, or those less concerned with getting in an intense work out but rather the other benefits that yoga brings such as relaxation and stress relief. However, more intensive classes can help you to get your heart racing a little more if that’s what you’re after.
Best for: Beginners, those looking for a gentler workout
A more vigorous type of yoga, Ashtanga yoga is a continuous style of yoga that offers little to no rest time in between each pose. It is certainly more challenging, but ideal for those who want more of a physical work out. You will perform a structured set of the exact same movements in the exact same order each session, making it ideal for the perfectionists who are happy to follow a routine that they can improve on each time, as well as those who find routine and repetitions a greater way of unwinding. While beginners may at first be overwhelmed in this type of class, the routine nature of it makes it easy to master the poses; it’s just the keeping up that at times gets tricky
Best for: Those seeking a physical work out, those who like routine.
This is the one for those really looking to perfect each movement and ensure they have the correct alignment. Iyengar yoga uses props such as yoga blocks, wall rope and other tools to ensure you get your body’s alignments exactly right. While this isn’t a class that will get your pulse racing, it is still challenging as you pay meticulous attention to perfecting each pose, and then hold it for a longer period of time than in some other types of yoga. This is a great class for those who are concerned about posture and making sure they are doing movements correctly, as this is really what this style of yoga is all about.
Best for: Perfectionists, those recovering from an injury.
Hot yoga is one of the more intense forms of yoga, if you are looking to sweat this is the one for you. Although similar, the terms Bikram and Hot Yoga aren’t actually interchangeable with Bikram referring to a particular sequence of yoga featuring 26 poses and 2 breathing exercises, while hot yoga can be any type or sequence of yoga performed in a hot room. Beginners may prefer Bikram as its routine nature makes it easier to follow at the start; however both styles are challenging and will definitely have you sweating within minutes. Many favour hot styles of yoga as the heat can make it easier to move into the movements, as well as the humid room doing wonders for your skin.
Best for: Those looking to sweat it out, those seeking a challenge.
Vinyasa yoga is all about the flow of the movements, the classes tend to be well choreographed moving smoothly from movement to movement, sometimes set to music to aid the flow of movement. A fast paced class, this is again one better suited to those wanting a more vigorous workout as there isn’t time to stop and catch your breath. Many compare Vinyasa to Ashtanga in terms of intensity, but in terms of content they couldn’t be more different with there being no set routine between any 2 Vinyasa classes.
Best for: Those who like variation, those after a more active style of yoga.
This is just a brief list of some kinds of yoga, and there are so many more out there to be discovered, with new types becoming popular all the time. While going off these descriptions will be of use when discovering which type is right for you, the best way to really know for sure is to get out there and try the different types. Whether you choose to attend a local class or even better opt for a yoga retreat abroad, the best way to discover your favourite type is to just give it a go. We recommend a retreat such as Absolute Sanctuary’s Yoga Programme as a way to discover the different types, which gives you the chance to attend unlimited yoga classes and try all different types. If you are interested in going on a yoga retreat, get in touch with one of our experts by clicking here or on 020 7843 3597 and they will be able to assist you in finding the right retreat for you.