Yoga can be intimidating. If you’re new to it, or even if you’re not but want to try new styles, it can be overwhelming (and sometimes just plain confusing) to know which studio to enroll in, or what kind of yoga to try.
Even though the poses are often the same from one discipline to the next, the approaches vary from studio to studio. Your physical needs, personality, and your likes/dislikes can have a lot to do with what type of yoga is best suited for you.
So I thought I’d be nice and translate all the yoga lingo into English. Below are types of yoga you can try, depending on YOU. Don’t be afraid to try a few different approaches before making a commitment. The most important thing is that you connect with the practice and have fun while doing it.
Do you like variety, have high energy and like to be challenged? If yes, try one of the following:
Vinyasa classes can be found across different disciplines of yoga, but what they all have in common is a “flow”-like pace in which postures and breath work together to create a steady movement in and out of the poses. These classes are dynamic, creating internal heat and energy. Because there is no set sequence of poses, each class will vary depending on the teacher. After finishing a vinyasa class, you will feel both energized and relaxed.
Moksha classes are vinyasa classes that are always held in heated studios, and they can vary in intensity depending on the course level and the teacher. If you want to move, sweat, and practice in a light-hearted, fun atmosphere, Moksha may be for you.
Prepare to get a super-workout. This type of yoga is intense, focusing on both strength and flexibility, with class sequences that are fast-paced and unpredictable. Power yoga will give you a good cardio workout, along with developing strength and flexibility. To get through a power class without injuring yourself, it’s advisable that you’re in good physical shape and that you have a good yoga base before attempting one of these bad-boys.
Are you new to yoga, and want to develop your strength, balance and flexibility?
Hatha Yoga, often also referred to as “traditional” or “classical” yoga, is a yoga style from which most physical forms of yoga originated. It is an approach that is open to everyone, and is particularly good for beginners, since it will build a great foundation from which practitioners can branch out to most other types of yoga. Unlike vinyasa (flow) classes, the poses are not linked together, but instead are held longer and the classes will move at a slower pace.
Do you want a physical challenge, but also like a set routine you can master?
Ashtanga builds up stamina, flexibility and strength, and is both dynamic and challenging. In total, it consists of six series: Primary, Intermediate and Advanced (4 levels). Each series has a fixed order of postures. Each posture is generally held for 5 breaths, and there are short vinyasas (flows) between all the sitting poses. Specific breathing techniques and internal energy “locks” which create inner heat and lightness are used. If you’re looking for a long-term challenge within set parameters, this type of yoga may be for you.
If you want to yoga and sweat down from your hair follicles to your fingernails, try Bikram. Unlike Moksha yoga which is more unpredictable, Bikram consists of a 90 minute class in a 105 F room with a fixed set of 26 poses and two breathing exercises. Bikram teachers are taught a standardized dialogue to lead the class, and stand at the front on a podium, calling out the sequence. If you like heat, routine, and a challenge, go for it!
Are you looking for a slow, meditative class that will stretch you from the inside out?
While most types of yoga in the West focus on the yang (strength, power, and stability), Yin yoga has a very different focus and effect. Each pose is held for 3 to 5 minutes, and works on increasing flexibility of the connective tissues, not the muscles. The stretch goes much deeper and has a more permanent effect on flexibility due to the slow gradual movement into the stretch rather than pushing yourself to the edge in a short time.
Are you recovering from an injury, or looking to calm your mind and relax?
In this type of yoga there should be no tension, effort or strain. Poses are very passive, and are held for 10 to 15 minutes while your body is completely supported by props. Sequences can be designed with specific poses in order to help a specific need such as relieving menstrual pain or boosting immunity.
Do you want a good balance of spirituality and physical training?
Jivamukti Yoga combines a vinyasa-style with spiritual and ethical practices such as: meditation, non-harming, devotion, chanting, scripture and social activism. It is a yoga discipline that is particularly popular with celebrities.
Kundalini yoga challenges practitioners both physically and mentally, and is very spiritually-oriented. While classes vary from teacher to teacher, what they all have in common is that they aim to open awareness and release energy. They are distinct from other disciplines in that they involve techniques such as jumping, dancing, deep repetitive breathing and long-held poses.
Are you adventurous, love the outdoors, and want to have some fun?
Sup Yoga is relatively new on the scene, but has become very popular with beach-bum yoga lovers. It’s essentially yoga practiced on a standup paddleboard on water instead of a mat. Now this is what I call a different type of flow. How fun is that?
So get out there! Do some yoga, discover new methods and most importantly, have fun!