I’ve been dabbling in yoga for a few years now (and when I say dabble I mean 3 or 4 times) and I still feel like an absolute amateur. Like any discipline, there is so much to learn. While I was developing the new range of yoga mats I started to hear terms such as Bikram and Vinyasa and I quickly realised there was so much more than Yin Yoga.
Are you new to yoga and feeling overwhelmed by the number of class choices you’ve been presented? A beginner who didn’t quite love the style of your first class? An experienced yogi curious as to what else is out there?
One of the really beautiful things about yoga is that it isn’t a “one size fits all” practise. Yoga isn’t just “yoga.” There are a number of different yoga styles that all sit beneath the one umbrella, waiting for you to try them!
We want to make things easier for you the next time you’re confronted with a yoga class timetable. Here, we’re breaking down five of the most common yoga styles to enable you to choose the right practise for you.
Yin yoga classes are incredibly popular as your instructor will encourage you to spend time (up to several minutes) in each pose, allowing you to really sink into the stretch. Because of this, Yin yoga is slow in its pace and often allows you to melt into an almost meditative state, making it one of the most relaxing yoga styles. In a Yin class, you’ll also be encouraged to use tools and props such as bolsters and blocks to ease you into a deeper stretch, as this style is designed to really restore length and elasticity to the muscles. Yin yoga is the perfect option for beginners wanting to spend time learning each pose and determining what does and doesn’t suit their body.
The Vinyasa style of yoga is very movement intensive, with a focus on fluidity. A Vinyasa practise will be athletic as you smoothly move from pose to pose without holding each position for too long. In a Vinyasa class, you’ll be taught to coordinate your breathing to each sequence, or “flow” as it’s referred to in yoga. Given the intensity and speed of the class, Vinyasa yoga is best suited to those who have a little more experience with yoga and more than a basic understanding of yoga. No two Vinyasa classes are the same, so it helps to know a number of poses by heart so you can seamlessly transition from one movement to the next without having to stop and get your bearings.
Technically speaking, Hatha yoga actually refers to all yoga styles! More traditionally, however, Hatha yoga is the term used for a practise slightly slower than the others found on this list. Because of its gentler pace, you’re given more time to ease into and hold each new pose, making it perfect for the yoga beginner. Hatha classes will generally cover the core yoga positions as well as a number of breathing and stretching techniques that you can take with you should you choose to work up to faster, more intense and more advanced yoga styles.
Unlike Vinyasa in which no two classes are the same, in a Bikram yoga you will work through a sequence of 26 specific yoga poses twice, so with repeated practise you will be able to flow through each movement from heart.
The other key difference? This 90 minute practise is performed in a room heated to roughly 40 degrees celcius and 40 percent humidity. Bikram yoga has grown increasingly popular in the last decade, as it’s the ideal style for those who find they don’t get enough of a “workout” from other styles of yoga. While this style of yoga is difficult given the environment, beginners can still enjoy a Bikram practise as you’re encouraged to rest and rehydrate whenever you feel you need to. If you’re after a serious challenge and want to work up a sweat beyond anything you’ve ever experienced, then Bikram is the yoga style for you.
It’s also worth looking into a Hot Yoga class if you find the Bikram style of movements isn’t for you. Bikram was created by Bikram Choudhury, hence the name, and each class is required to follow the same 26 movements. If you’re interested in practising in a humid, heated room, but want to try a different sequence of poses, then Hot Yoga is for you- the concept is the same, but instructors aren’t required to follow the specific Bikram routine.
In the same way that a true Bikram practise needs to follow the very same sequence from class to class, all Ashtanga yoga classes will run in the same way- you’ll begin with sun salutations then move through a series of 6 postures. Ashtanga is similar to Vinyasa in how advanced it is, its pace and the way in which each movement is really linked to breathing. While Ashtanga is an intense, athletic and demanding yoga style, it’s something that you can ingrain into your muscle memory with repeated practise thanks to how uniform each class is required to be.
So does that help you? I hope we’ve cleared things up for you and you’re feeling inspired to give Yoga a try.