How do you decide which yoga style is for you?
Yoga is hailed as one the top activities for fighting stress and calming your “monkey mind” (where your mind bounces from thought to thought, whizzing around at a mile a minute). But with so many styles out there, the sole act of choosing a class, can be, well, rather stressful. And even if you’re already committed to one asana, you might not always be in the mood for the same workout — some days you want an all-out power session but others you crave a slower, more relaxing routine focusing more on breathing and meditation.
Yoga is an individual journey connecting, uniting and cleansing the mind body and soul, but each yogi, new or experienced has their own path. What works for one yogi may just not mesh with another, and so it’s a good idea to evaluate first what exactly you want to get out of your experience.
We’ve looked at the 5 most popular yoga styles and created this useful list of tips for pinpointing the best type for your body and fitness goals, whether you’re a fresh new yogi attempting your first downward dog or seasoned veteran craving a serious body challenge.
Top 5 yoga styles:
A yoga style perfect for newbie’s, Hatha is the physical practice of yoga that focuses on the poses more than the breathing. Taught through a series of gentle movements this style is ideal for all you beginners wanting to try out the basics and find your niche, yogis looking to increase flexibility and balance, and for yogis looking to wind down after a stressful day. Even with it’s gentle pace though, you can expect a whole array of body-boosting effects, from significantly improved flexibility and balance, to greater endurance levels. There are even studies that show Hatha yoga to be a brain booster too, with just 20 minutes a day leading to improved cognitive function. What’s not to love about that?
It’s known that on average you can burn around 170 calories more per hour of Vinyasa practice than Hatha – so if you are looking for a more challenging work out with body sculpting benefits, the Vinyasa yoga style is the one for you. Vinyasa is all about getting your flow on – flow of the mind, body, breathing and transition from pose to pose.
In the Iyengar yoga style, each pose is held for a longer amount of time than in most other yoga styles, developing a state of focused calm – giving Iyengar Yoga the reputation of being meditation in action. This is the perfect yoga style for athletes and runners – as it is a perfect way to re-boot and pay some attention to any injuries you may have sustained. Attention to detail is important in this style, so for all you perfectionists out there this may be the style for you! Iyengar uses a variety of props from blocks, straps and ropes to ensure your body is perfectly aligned in each pose in order to reap the maximum benefits possible. This is not a practice for the flippant yogi though – it is very heavily focused on proper body alignment and for this reason it can take years to reach instructor level in this yoga style.
A long week in the office answering orders from the boss and battling the daily commute definitely calls for a day of mental recovery – to let the mind wander and be free, fun and wild. Kundalini – a yoga style that fuses meditation, postures, chanting, breathing exercises and even singing and dancing, is certain to bring your worn out mind back to equilibrium. Unlike other yoga styles, Kundalini doesn’t follow a set routine of positions, so you will rarely experience two classes the same. The focus is on capturing your inner energy and bringing equilibrium to your body and mind. It is a perfect yoga style for people seeking a greater sense of enlightenment, and for yogi’s focusing on spirituality and awareness.
Hot, sweaty and intense – this yoga style is guaranteed to get the blood pumping even in the most physically fit of gym buffs. Comprising of a series of 26 poses performed in series in a hot room – we’re talking 38C and higher – this challenging work out is wildly applauded for stretching the muscles, ligaments and tendons in just the right way. Bikram is often used to tackle chronic muscle pains, and is especially beneficial for those of you with lower back, hamstring and shoulder pain. It is advised however, particularly to those of you with medical conditions such as hypertension, to get the thumbs up from your doctor before attempting this one!