Which Type of Yoga is Best for you?
Yoga is thought to have originated over 4,000 years ago somewhere on the Indian continent. Over the years it’s developed into various different disciplines with teachers having different philosophies. With all the great health benefits – stress-relief, metabolism boosting toning, anti-ageing and immune boosting to name a few – it’s hardly surprising that so many of us are jumping on the yoga bandwagon.
I’m not sure about you but all the different types of Yoga does make my head spin slightly, there is even a one called ‘Doga’ – Yoga with your dog. When I began my research into all the different types, there were even more than I had previously thought. Here’s a list of some of the most popular practices which will help you decide the type of yoga that’s best for you.
Hatha Yoga is the most widely practised yoga style in the West and is great introduction to the discipline if you’ve never done it before. The term ‘Hatha’ is a general term that covers many of the physical aspects of yoga. It’s slow and gentle and combines physical exercises and postures and also breathing techniques and meditation – a bit of everything really!
Best for: Beginners and those who want to wind down after a long day.
I’m imagining yoga in a sauna and lots of very sweaty people and I don’t think I’m too far off.
Bikram Yoga takes place in 105?F (40C)? and at least 40% humidity – how do you not melt?! This type of Yoga began in Los Angeles in the 1970s by Bikram Choudhury and has become an extremely popular type of Yoga.
The class involves a series of 26 poses and 2 breathing exercises and the theory is that warm muscles are flexible muscles. The heat is also supposed to detoxify the body and remove harmful toxins.
Best for: It is thought of as one of the best practices for beginners due to there only being 26 Birkam poses, many of which focus on proper alignment.
Like Hatha, Vinyasa is a general term that is used to describe many different types of classes. Vinyasa tends to provide a varity of changing poses – no two classes are every the same. Vinyasa is also called ‘flow’ because of the continuous flow of movements from one pose to another. Each movement is matched to the breath which is where the word Vinysa comes into play. ‘Vinyasa’ means ‘breath-synchronized movement’ and so this type of yoga is just that.
Best for: Someone who likes to move and wants a faster paced yoga.
This is also referred to as ‘Power Yoga’ and requires constant movement – it’s not for the faint hearted. It combines strength and cardio and there is a constant movement from one pose to the next making it very physically demanding. It’s become popular over the past few years because of it’s athletic demands and many ex male and female athletes practice it.
Best for: The fittest of fiddles. Perhaps best to start with a different type of Yoga and build yourself up to Ashtanga yoga.
This type of yoga has become a celebrity favourite recently with stars like Russell Brand and Demi Moore being followers. The name ‘Kundalini’ refers to the energy of the ‘Root Chakra’ which surrounds the base of the spine. You will focus on your core and abs and around the spine mostly in this type of yoga as it aims to free up this energy.
Best for: Those interested in the spiritual aspect of yoga due to its focus on breathing, meditation and chanting.
Iyengar Yoga is a school of Hatha yoga that usually focuses on a different theme for each class such as strengthening your knees, aligning your spine etc. You practise each posture very precisely and accommodates everyone, giving them an understanding of what each move is doing for them. There are props used such as chairs, wooden blocks, harnesses, cushions and straps that makes it interesting.
Best for: This type of yoga is good for anyone with an injury and for people looking for a more methodical type of yoga.
This is an extremely relaxing type of yoga that is great for those who want to de-stress and chill out. There is more lying down than in many other practices and focuses on connecting your mind with your body. You can sometimes hold poses in Restorative Yoga classes for up to 10 or 20 minutes – I’m hoping it isn’t one on one foot as this wouldn’t end well.
Best for: Those looking to relax and quieten their minds. Great for those who have trouble sleeping.
Some believe that prenatal yoga is the best type of exercise for mums-to-be as it helps develop good breathing habits. It keeps the core strong, helps posture and pregnancy aches and pains.
Best for: Expectant mothers
These are just a few of the most popular types of yoga. There are new types forming all the time – even paddle board yoga which looks extremely fun/almost impossible. We have a great range of Yoga on offer at InstructorLive:
Beth Win teaches:
Susan Yu teaches:
Rebecca Horner teaches: