YOGA STYLE GUIDE: Find the Type of Yoga Class that is Right for YOU!
SO you've made a resolution to start going to yoga classes, but now you've got to figure out which style of yoga is going to keep you excited and motivated to continue showing up. There are so many expressions of yoga all over the world. Yoga is offered to us as a physical practice, a mental practice, and a spiritual practice. Today, it is not uncommon to find contemporary and ancestral forms of dance as well as strength training and other movement formats integrated into the physical practice.
Whether you're practice yoga to achieve a goal of becoming more flexible, fit, relaxed or disciplined, we've compiled a yoga style cheat sheet based on what you're looking to get out of a class.
SWEAT. STRENGTH. EXPRESSION.
If you want to break a sweat, let loose or move like an acrobat, gymnast, dancer, or strength trainer, try the following styles of modern yoga:
- VINYASA: Also called "Flow," you can typically expect flowing sequences of postures built around several rounds of Sun Salutation. Take an opportunity before class to set an intention for your focus to be on creating a steady rhythm and sense of synchronization, moving the body in sync with the breath.
- YOGA FUSION: Postural yoga classes mixed with other forms of body movement (typically various styles of dance or fitness formats). Yoga Sculpt, Yoga Barre, Yoga HIIT, and other fitness based yoga fusion formats often incorporate power yoga postures with small, weighted props. Other fusion styles include Yoga Ropes, Arial Yoga, Yoga Silks, and Acro-Yoga.
- POWER/ ASHTANGA YOGA: Get ready for many, many chaturanga push-ups. Power yoga classes are typically inspired by the Ashtanga Yoga method. It is a rigorous, athletic style that moves quickly and strongly through postures. Focus and emphasis is on control of body weight while building internal heat via the breath.
- HOT YOGA: Power, Vinyasa Flow, or Bikram style yoga classes done in a humid, heated, climate-controlled environment. Emphasis is on mind-body discipline practiced by mentally focusing on the strength and resilience of the body and holding focus away from the discomfort of the heat.
- BUTI YOGA: Buti Yoga is a challenging total body workout that fuses power yoga, West African dance, functional movement, HIIT, and plyometrics. Focus is on primal self-expression with postures generated by moving from the core in a spiral technique.
STRETCH. BREATHE. RELEASE.
Doubts arise from fear, and fear puts us into a rigid posture. When we feel fear, we become tense, tight, wound up, and worried. Find space to breathe, let go, and gain a little flexibility along the way with these popular styles of yoga:
- YIN: Slow, steady yoga postures done in a passive manner and held for longer periods of time to relax muscle tension, target stiff connective tissue, and observe sensation in the body. Postures are generally done on the floor. Practice deep breathing, release of tension, and awareness of the relationship between body weight and gravity.
- VINYASA: A flowing, expressive style of yoga based around the Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskara) where sequences of postures are continuously linked with the breath. Balancing of strength and flexibility is explored through standing and seated postures. Postures are linked continuously without pause, taking the mind away from thoughts and focused on the dynamic flow of movement.
- BIKRAM YOGA: 26 Postures done in a heated room. Bikram yoga, developed by the controversial guru Bikram Choudhury, is a practice that requires intense focus and discipline on a specific sequence of physical postures. If you find yourself in a Bikram class, try attempting all 26 postures, finishing the class, and then showing up again and again. These are the steps needed for this highly regimented expression of postural yoga.
RESTORE. RELAX. RESET.
If you are feeling burned out, overwhelmed, overstressed, and lacking sleep, make sure you give yourself an uninterrupted session of rest and relaxation. You are so important!! Come back to your center with one of the following mind-body restorative practices:
- RESTORATIVE YOGA: Generally involves gentle yoga postures done at a steady pace, in a prone or supine position using props to support the body: gentle twists, forward folds and backbends to calm the nervous system, relax and rejuvenate a stressed mind and body.
- YOGA NIDRA: Known popularly as "Yogic Sleep" it is a restorative practice done laying on the back, as in shavasana or corpse pose. Yoga Nidra focuses on the mental development of an all-encompassing awareness where focus is not fixed to any one object but awareness is instead left empty of focus, with the aperture wide open. Visualization and deep awareness of sensation are tools to bring the body and mind deep into a state of relaxation.
- SOUND YOGA: (Also known as NADA YOGA) Awareness on the vibration of sound via crystal or tibetan singing bowls, gongs, bells, sitar, and other instruments. The subtle vibrational energy travels through our being, affecting and clearing blocked energy pathways in the mind and body. Sound yoga can be mood shifting and emotionally healing.
- MEDITATION/PRANAYAMA: Meditation comes in many flavors. From visualization to simply sitting with yourself, to practices involving breathing techniques to influence the nervous system to come down into a state of internal rest and relaxation. Pranayama or breath control exercises work to influence the subtle or "energetic" body.
Dare to step outside of your comfort zone and try them all. Find your driving intention, and choose the style that is going to keep you close to that intention. Which class will allow you to express yourself most authentically? Whichever style you choose, be sure to choose a studio with a warm and inviting community.