I don’t know about you, but whenever I look at the class list at my local yoga studio or on a gym timetable I am often left slightly confused and wondering which one I should go to and would be best for me. There is always a brief description which can offer some insight, but I always feel like having more understanding would hugely benefit my practice. I have found when looking in to this online to pull together the information it can be a bit of a minefield, so I hope today I can put it together in one simple and easy to follow way, and you will have the answer to the common question: “What are the different types of yoga?”

Now of course, we can understand the different types but it will come down to each individual teacher and their style/stamp on the class too. My suggestion would be to try out a few different types that you feel would suit you, and then once you have this try those classes with different teachers. Getting this right really can be the make or break of a regular yoga practice.

what are the different types of yoga
So let’s take a look at the types, what you can expect from those practices and who they are typically great for.

Hatha Yoga

Hatha is very much an umbrella term for all physical postures in yoga. Therefore, you can expect movement as opposed to chanting for example in this class. Hatha generally refers to classes that are not so flowing and therefore bypass the traditional focus on asanas.

Who is it great for?

It is generally great if you are a beginner as the slower pace makes it a great entry point to a yoga practice.

Vinyasa Yoga

This is often considered the most athletic style of yoga where the movement is coordinated with your breath and movement to flow from one pose to another. Vinyasa flow is an umbrella term for many other styles such as flow yoga, flow-style yoga, dynamic yoga or vinyasa flow. It is however very much influenced by ashtanga yoga.

Who is it great for?

You may feel that you want a little experience before trying this style due to it’s faster pace and needing to have a feel for each pose.

Iyengar Yoga

This is focused on alignment and precise movement, so you will generally find that the postures in these classes are held for a longer period, whilst focusing on the breath. The use of props such as bolster cushions, blocks and belts is paramount within these classes to allow the positions to be performed with perfect form and for you to be able to go deeper in to the pose safely. Although there is not a huge amount of movement, you will still feel as if you are having a physical workout due to the nature of the class and holding the poses.

Who is this great for?

If you have an injury this could be a great class because it allows a slower pace and focus on the correct movement. However, it is great for anybody who likes to work methodically too.

Kundalini yoga

This takes a spiritual and physical approach, and is about releasing energy that appears to be trapped in the lower spine. The class will therefore involve chanting, mantra and meditation and will require a fairly fast pace, with a strong focus on core work and breathing techniques such as alternate nostril breathing.

Who is this great for?

If you like to add more of a spiritual side to your yoga practice this would be a great option due to the additional elements added in on top of the physical side.

Ashtanga yoga

This tends to be a physically demanding class with a constant flow of movement through postures, therefore, there is no time for adjustments, but is all about breathing as you move from one pose to another

Who is this great for?

If you are more experience and familiar with the poses this may be a good option, it is also faster pace and more physically demanding nature so an element of fitness would be of benefit.

Bikram yoga

This is set in a room that is typically over 100 degrees. Many studios now call this type of yoga hot yoga which does tend to be a little cooler than the traditional Bikram style but the focus and idea behind it is very much the same: Sweat helps to remove the toxins from your body.

Who is this great for?

It goes without saying that if you have any medical conditions whereby extreme heat whilst exercising could put you at risk you would want to avoid this type. However, if you would like to get a sweat on during your practice this is a great option.

Yin yoga

This focuses on seated positions that target the connective tissues in the hips, pelvis and lower spine. Poses are held for anywhere between one and 10 minutes, so it tends to be a much slower pace and can take a meditative approach. It can feel very relaxed as the idea is that you let gravity do the work, and is about increasing flexibility, with a feeling of letting go and releasing.

Who is this great for?

If you enjoy a slower pace and are interested in feeling inner peace at the end of your practice then this is the type for you. It is also brilliant for beginners because of the slower pace. However, it can also be great for the athletic type who need to release tension in joints.

Restorative Yoga

The focus in this type of yoga is all about relaxation, with a heavy reliance on props to allow you to sink deeper in to a pose and relax further. It is similar to yin yoga, but with less emphasis on flexibility and more on relaxing.

Who is this great for?

If you are looking to slow down and switch off after a long day then this is definitely the perfect option for you.

Jivamukti Yoga

This is a highly meditative but physically demanding and challenging type. The class takes on a vinyasa style but also includes music, chanting, affirmations, meditation and readings.

Who is this great for?

If you would like a more spiritual approach to your practice but are looking to be challenged physically you may want to look in to this type.

Prenatal Yoga

This is adapted for women across their pregnancy, so allows you to perform poses in a safe and effective way and avoids all the things that you shouldn’t be doing whilst pregnant. The focus is much more on stability than on flexibility. You can expect to work on pelvic floor and breathing as well as preparing for labour and giving birth. It is a great way to take time out and bond with your baby.

Who is this great for?

It goes without saying that if you are pregnant this is the class you’d go to. Some classes would ask that you wait until you are past the 12-week mark but check this out with them as it does vary.

Conclusion

There are so many types of yoga out there no matter whether you want a more physical demanding one, or a relaxing and meditative one. Before you get started I would highly recommend considering what it is that you would like to get from your yoga practice as that will ultimately determine the type of class you go for. Obviously you need to consider the level that you are entering at too, but a good approach would be to try several types and different teachers and you will soon come to realise which suits you best. It may even be that you incorporate several style in to your routine at once, for example one day you may take part in an invigorating, physically challenging class whilst on another day you enjoy a more relaxed restorative approach.

Either way, there is no right or wrong, it is about connecting to your own practice and what feels right for you.

Be sure to head back and let us know any that you give a go for the first time and what your thoughts are, or if you have any questions we would love to answer them.

Namaste.

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