When I started doing yoga as a pre-teen I had no idea of any different styles of yoga. I figured later that I was doing hatha yoga which most of us associate being the ‘basic yoga’. But even hatha yoga goes into very deep depths than just being the beginner friendly option. Matter of fact, pretty much every style of yoga has their beginner level and gradually transforms into a more challenging practice. For that, I would not fear trying different styles and just going for it! However, here’s a little peek into some of the styles I personally like a lot!
One of the most common styles is the Vinyasa Flow that studios offer. Literally you flow from pose to pose. With an inhale you are in pose one and with the exhale you are already moving to the next pose. Vinyasa Yoga isn’t necessarily a branch of yoga but a way to describe a style that synchronizes your breath with movement. I personally like doing this type of practice alone at home since I can move in the rhythm of my own breath instead of the assumed rhythm in a class. I do recommend going for vinyasa flow classes to learn about syncronizing your movement because that is the fastest way to a home practice.
While elements of vinyasa flow are in hatha yoga, it is also a slower practice. Ideal for absolute beginners. Poses are held longer and you have time to get to know very fundamental yoga poses and stimulate your mind by learning to breath slowly.
This is one of my favorite styles so here comes a little lengthy text! Ashtanga yoga is divided into 6 series of postures and one might practice the first series for years before being allowed to move to the second series by their teacher. Each series follows a certain order, so the class is basically always the same. There is “ashtanga influenced” or ‘power yoga’ practices where poses from the series is borrowed but that isn’t really anything else than a little more vigorous practice of yoga. Studios offer lead ashtanga classes, where you follow the teacher but as soon as you can, it is recommended that you go to a Mysore-class, where you do the postures of the series in the given order by yourself and a teacher will come to assist you if needed. This is also where the teacher will tell you when to proceed in the series.
I personally love ashtanga yoga and have made it to the beginning of the second series. I first wanted to do it because of the fitness benefits but later learned to love it because of how it made me learn more about my body in detail. Also the feeling of progress was there every single class.
You can skip this paragraph but here’s little more on this style. Ashtanga meaning the 8 limbs of yoga comes from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. However, this isn’t the “style of ashtanga” that you see when you sign up for a ashtanga class at a studio. That actually is Ashtanga Vinyasa class based on the teachings of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. So for the one who is looking for a physical practice that will make you sweat and do plenty of push-ups within one hour, that would be ashtanga vinyasa. I’m mentioning this because ashtanga itself is a traditional practice meanwhile ashtanga vinyasa as we know now, is a modern practice.
Slow and relaxing practice with 2-5 minute long holds on poses done on the floor. Increases flexibility by affecting the connective tissues instead of muscles because there is no warm-up. It’s better to go to a 90 minute long class instead of 60 minutes if you wish to feel the full benefit of this practice. Also combines knowledge from chinese medicine with poses affecting meridians or chinese energy maps in our body. Tremendous help for tight hips and hamstrings!
Basically anything described above but in a hot room heated to 40 degress celsius or 120 fahrenheit. There is Bikram that follows a series of 26 poses, Bikyasa that is a combination of Bikram and Vinyasa with background music. And then just simply hot yoga. Sometimes it could be a flow, sometimes more of a static hold of certain poses often repeated at least twice. Prepare to a class by drinking more water than usual 4 hours prior to the practice and also after the practice. Yin yoga can also be done in a hot room but the room should still be cooler than for the intense bikram practice for example as yin’s real benefits can be achieved in a cooler room.
All in all… You might want to get a different practice depending how fast phased or physical it is, or how slow it is and for that exploring the different styles is great. But in the end if you are really interested about yoga and it’s fundamentals, I recommend looking into the traditional yoga that might be seen a bit more spiritual practice. Meditation is even more important than the asana (pose) practice. Hence, yoga meaning a union. Because all we can do is to love and give love. Being more in tune with the world. That is the philosophy behind yoga.
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