A Breakdown of 9 Popular Styles of Yoga
There are many different types of yoga to choose from whether you’re looking for a more physically challenging or a relaxing, meditative class. So how does one go about choosing the most suitable style? We suggest trying a few different styles before deciding on a favourite, but even if you’re an established yogi it’s a good idea to explore different styles to challenge yourself and break out of your comfort zone.
While the term ‘hatha’ is an umbrella terms for all the physical postures used in yoga, in the West Hatha is used to refer to a physical-based style of yoga. Hatha is perfect for beginners as it typically follows a slower pace than other styles and take a classic approach to breathing and exercises.
Founded by B.K.S Iyengar, this style of yoga focuses on alignment and calculated movements. In an Iyengar class, practitioners typically perform a variety of postures while controlling the breath and postures are generally held for a long time while the intricacies of the pose are adjusted.
Equal part spiritual and physical exercise, Kundalini focuses on releasing the primal kundalini energy said to be trapped in the lower spine. With an intense focus on core exercises, Kundalini involves fast-moving, stimulating postures and breathing exercises, as well as mantra and meditation.
Not recommended for beginnings, Ashtanga yoga involves a highly physically demanding series of postures and is ideal for experienced yogis – bingo Canada is far easier! Typically starting with 5 sun salutation A’s and 5 sun salutation B’s, Ashtanga then moves into a series of intricate standing and floor postures.
First adapted from the Ashtanga style in the 1980s, Vinyasa is the most athletic yoga style and involves movement coordinated with breath, flowing from one pose to another. As an adaption to the original, there may be many different types of poses in various sequences, depending on the teacher.
Name after Bikram Choudhury, Bikram yoga features a sequence of set poses performed in a sauna-like room. Typically set to 40°C and 40% humidity, Bikram includes a series of 26 basic postures, each performed twice.
Featuring seated postures which are held for a long time, Yin yoga is a slow-paced style of yoga and is ideal for beginners. Postures can be held for 45 seconds to 2 minutes and can also be a meditative style which helps practitioners gain inner peace.
With a focus on mental and physical relaxing, Restorative yoga is ideally performed at the end of the day. With more time spent in fewer postures, the poses have been modified to be more relaxing and easier on the body.
Adapted from Hatha yoga, Anusara is similar to Vinyasa in that it focuses on alignment, but with more of a focus on the mind-body-heart connection. With a strong emphasis on spirals and how each body part should ideally be moving, Anusara is also focused on heart-opening.