Understanding the different styles of Yoga

The myriad benefits of yoga – including lower blood pressure, increased strength and bone density and reduced anxiety – should be enough to get anyone on the mat. However,I meet many people who hesitate to embrace this ancient form of fitness due to some pervasive myths

The truth is that there is a class to suit you whatever your body type or temperament. Yoga develops strength and balance as well as flexibility – the latter is a consequence of practising yoga, not a prerequisite. No one has turned up to their first yoga class (unless they were a dancer or a gymnast) able to execute advanced yoga poses.

All yoga styles create a feeling of lightness, ease and relaxation. But to get the most benefit and the most enjoyment, you need to find a yoga style and a teacher that suits you. For example, if you're already doing lots of strength training your best choice is likely to be a yoga style that focuses more on flexibility. That way, you can balance your fitness routine. Perhaps try yin or, focus or vinyasa yoga. Those who have an injury or live with a chronic medical condition such as arthritis might want to try Focus or Alignment based yoga, or one-to-one sessions with a teacher where you will be able to focus on alignment and your unique needs. If you are drawn to experience the spiritual side, you could try jivamukti. And for those who are relatively healthy and want a challenge, vinyasa flow might be a good choice.


Vinyasa

Teachers lead classes that flow from one pose to the next without stopping to talk about the finer points of each pose. That way, students come away with a good workout as well as a yoga experience. If you're new to yoga, it can be a good idea to take a few beginner or slower paced classes initialy to get a feel for the poses. Vinyasa flow is really an umbrella term for many other styles. Some studios call it flow yoga, power-yoga, flow-style yoga, dynamic yoga or vinyasa flow. It is influenced by ashtanga yoga.

Focus or Iyengar

Focus, Iyengar and ashtanga yoga come from the same lineage – the teachers who developed these styles (BKS Iyengar and the late Pattabhi Jois) were both taught by Tirumalai Krishnamacharya. Many of the asanas (postures) are the same, but the approach is different. Focus or Iyengar yoga is great for learning the subtleties of correct alignment. Props – belts, blocks and pillow-like bolsters – help beginners get into poses with correct alignment, even when they're new to them, injured or simply stiff. Alignment based yoga is amazing for bodies recovering from injury as well as experienced ygis looking to challenge themsleves on longer holds and correct allignment.

Ashtanga & Mysore style

Ashtanga is a more vigorous style of yoga. It offers a series of poses, each held for only five breaths and punctuated by a half sun salutation to keep up the pace.  Ashtanga attracts  those looking for a very physical and strict practice. Mysore style Ashtanga yoga taught one-to-one in a group setting. Students turn up at any time within a three-hour window to do their own practice as taught by their teacher. T

Bikram yoga

Bikram yoga is the favourite of anyone who loves to sweat it out in a very hot room. It was created by Indian yogi Bikram Choudhury in the early 1970s. He designed a sequence of 26 yoga poses to stretch and strengthen the muscles as well as compress and "rinse" the organs of the body. The poses are done in a heated room to facilitate the release of toxins. Every bikram class you go to, anywhere in the world, follows the same sequence of 26 poses and will be heated upwards of 40 degrees

Kundalini yoga

Kundalini yoga was designed to awaken energy in the spine. Kundalini yoga classes include meditation, breathing techniques such as alternate nostril breathing, and chanting, as well as yoga postures.

Hatha yoga

Hatha yoga really just means the physical practice of yoga (asanas as opposed to, say, chanting). Hatha yoga now commonly refers to a class that is not so flowing and bypasses the various traditions of yoga to focus on the asanas that are common to all. It is often a gentle yoga class.

Yin and Restorative yoga

Yin yoga comes from the Taoist tradition and primarily focuses on passive, seated postures that target the connective tissues in the hips, pelvis and lower spine.  Some poses are in a standing position but again follow a gentle approach. Poses are usually held for anywhere between 3 and 5minutes. The aim is to increase flexibility and encourage a feeling of release and letting go. It is a wonderful way to learn the basics of meditation and stilling the mind while opening and stretching the fascia tissue around the body. As such, it is ideal for athletic types who need to release tension in overworked joints, and it is also good for those who need to relax.

Jivamukti yoga

Founded in 1984 by David Life and Sharon Gannon, Jivamukti means "liberation while living". This is a vinyasa-style practice with themed classes, often including chanting, music and scripture readings. Jivamukti teachers encourage students to apply yogic philosophy to their daily life.


There are a heap of yoga style out there but I hope this has helped demystify the wonderful world of yoga for you.


*source Geraldine Beirne