Yoga is not just a union of our breath to our body, that’s a part of it. Of our mind to our muscles, that’s also a part of it! And it’s certainly not just a union of our nose to our knees or our fingers to our toes.
It’s a union of the Self. We mean the ‘Self’ with a capital S! As in the supreme, the Universe. It’s an awareness that we are ALL OF THAT!
Yoga is more about uniting the individualised consciousness with the Universal consciousness.
Yoga is an ancient practice that has had a life of its own for over 5000 years. There are two basic forms of yoga:
Exoteric - the external form which is best recognized, especially in the Western world, as the physical form of yoga. Postures, breathing practices & techniques.
Then there is the Esoteric or, internal practice.
Ideally we aim to unite both inner and outer forms to create an Integrated practice; working on all dimensions of being - body, energy, thoughts, feelings & beliefs.
So as a newbie yogi, it can be pretty difficult to know what type of yoga would best suit you so we have decided to give you a little breakdown of the various styles of Yoga available in our Western World.
You might be asking yourself:
If that’s the case, we have you covered.
Every style of Yoga is for everybody and every type of body. It’s mor than just a physical practice; it’s about the way it brings us back home to ourselves, and teaches us how to create awareness of our body and mind, bringing our attention to the breath which gives us life and tunes us in to our inner wisdom.
Incredible benefits of yoga:
Yoga doesn’t just help us become super bendy; it’s actually a way of life.
Traditionally, our sadhana (practice) encompasses every action we take, so we apply what we learn on our mats to our everyday lives.
But let’s face it, most of us get into yoga for the physical benefits – and there’s a good reason for that.
Yoga is an amazing system to help us gain strength and flexibility, as well as learn how to stay calm, centered and grounded.
A regular yoga practice can offer the following benefits:
And makes us an all-round better human being!
Different styles of yoga:
Here’s how to distinguish between the different types of yoga and choose one that’s right for you.
It’s best to try as many styles as possible and to keep experimenting as your practice expands. Try out different studios, different teachers, and different class set-ups. You might find Ashtanga with one teacher too intensive for example but love it with another. There should be no judgement but rather a gentle acceptance and fully honour how you feel.
Bear in mind that nowadays, with a diverse online platform like ours, and many others, you don’t even have to limit yourself to your local yoga studios – there are tons of online yoga programs available so carve out a little time to check us out too.
Hatha covers almost every type of yoga practice. It’s a traditional system of yoga which includes practicing asanas (postures) and pranayama (breathwork) to bring peace to the mind and body.
A Hatha class will likely be slow-paced yet still vigorous on the body! Expect to hold poses for a lengthy period of time, and learn how to really feel into your body.
It’s for you if: you’re new to yoga and want to take things slowly, whilst still building an awesome amount of strength and flexibility.
Ashtanga is a little more intense than Hatha as it consists of a series of poses which start and end in the same sequence, every time. There are three levels (primary, intermediate and advanced). Needless to say, start with the primary series if you’re a newbie.
An Ashtanga class will likely give you a serious raise in heart rate and a solid workout. It will certainly help you build an incredible amount of strength.
It’s for you if: you want to get a good dynamic workout from your yoga practice, and you feel pretty strong in your body already.
Vinyasa yoga is basically a freestyle Ashtanga. The main difference is that the focus is more on flowing in and out of the poses, instead of the longer holding, and syncing each movement with the breath. A kind of yoga dance or moving meditation.
It’s for you if: you want to release stress through movement and learn how to tune in to your breath as a tool for relaxation.
Power yoga is usually a fast-paced Ashtanga or Vinyasa class. It’s essentially ‘gym yoga’ – the primary goal is to build physical fitness.
A power yoga class will usually include way more cardio work than other types of yoga classes. This makes it a fabulous choice for yogis who want to shed a few pounds, or who feel like cardio if missing from their wellness routine.
It’s for you if: you want to lose weight, or you’d like to incorporate more ‘sweat factor’ into your yoga practice.
Hot yoga (often called Bikram yoga) normally consists of a specific sequence of poses, practiced in a warm studio.
A hot yoga class won’t be sweltering hot that you can’t breathe, but you’ll definitely sweat! The heat will help your body to relax and soften up, heal cell tissue and go into mini detox mode.
It’s for you if: you love to sauna, and you want to use your yoga practice to detoxify and flush out toxins.
Iyengar yoga involves a lot of precision and breath control, with much more extended holding of postures..
An Iyengar class will involve a lot of yoga props (such as blocks, straps, and chairs). One might say it’s the yogic form of physical therapy.
It’s for you if: you’re recovering from an injury, experiencing chronic pain, or want to perfect your alignment in your poses.
Kundalini yoga involves repeated movements called ‘kriyas’ – and the word kundalini refers to the dormant life force energy at the base of the spine. The aim of the practice is to draw this energy upward through the seven chakras (energy centres) through physical activity.
A kundalini class is often filled with mantra-chanting and is beautifully energising as well as physically challenging.
It’s for you if: You feel stuck in life, and want to challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone.
Restorative yoga is a gentle and relaxing, passive practice.
Similar to Yin and Iyengar, a restorative yoga class will use a lot of props to provide support so you can simply let everything go and this allows gravity to do the work.
It’s for you if: you crave a gentle style to help you relax and practice self-care.
Yin yoga involves holding stretches for 3-5 minutes to release the deep connective fascial tissue in our body.
A yin yoga class involves a whole lot of mat work and super deep lengthening and stretching. It’s often relaxing but challenging at the same time.
It’s for you if: you do a lot of physical activity (or sitting in front of a screen for hours) and really need to stretch out your body.
We hope this guide was useful and that you have found it super helpful.