If you think yoga is only for a certain type of person, think again. From high energy workouts to flows that are perfect for winding down, there’s a style of yoga for everybody, no matter what mood you find yourself in.
Here’s a breakdown of the different styles to help you work out which style you might like best.
If you look at yoga as a spectrum, with meditation on one end and power yoga or Bikram at the other, Hatha yoga would fall comfortably in the middle. As opposed to a Vinyasa style where there’s more a flow or movement between poses, Hatha will have you holding poses for a longer time. This means there’s generally less overall movement and lots more breathing exercises.
Just because there’s more stillness though, don’t be fooled into thinking this might be an easier class. As anyone who’s held a Warrior pose for minutes on end will tell you, static poses can be just as challenging! That being said, Hatha is a relatively broad term that can include lots of different classes, so try a few and find out what you like.
Hatha yoga is perfect for people who want all the benefits of yoga wrapped into one. It’s great if you’re looking to bring a little tranquillity to your day but perhaps crave something a little more active than a Restorative or Yin class.
Pronounced “eye-yen-gar”, this is a style of yoga that’s all about alignment. You’ll find that there’s more precision in the poses compared to other styles, and often you’ll use more props. Instructors are trained in the Iyengar style specifically so you can expect most Iyengar classes to be reasonably similar from studio to studio.
Iyengar is amazing for workaholics who spend a lot of time at their desk. With a focus on improving alignment, it can help to relieve some of the symptoms that come with sitting hunched over a laptop all day. If you struggle to mentally pull yourself away from your work and into the class, Iyengar is great because it requires focus to achieve precision in your poses and breath.
Some things are better served straight up, others are better when blended – gin and tonics, we’re looking at you 😉 Kundalini is a style of yoga that blends the physical with the spiritual. There’s a strong focus on energy and moving it around the body to pass through various chakras. The use of meditation and mantras encourages you to explore the spiritual side of your practice.
Kundalini is great for frazzled mamas or women who don’t get enough ‘me time’, or perhaps feel out of touch with themselves. Although you can work up a sweat, it’s quite an inwardly focused class with lots of room for self-exploration and reconnecting with your spiritual gansta.
Ashtanga is a dynamic style of yoga where you can expect to spend less time holding poses and more time flowing through movements. Each class follows the exact same pattern of poses: you’ll begin with some sun salutations, move on to some standing poses, then move to seated poses, and finish up with some meditation or relaxation. The poses are directly linked to breath so although it’s quite a physical class, there’s also an element of control and calm.
If you’re the kind of person who gets frustrated when you’re not immediately good at something (us too), you’ll love Ashtanga. Because you repeat the same sequence every class, you’ll generally find that you get the hang of it a lot faster compared to classes that are less structured. This also makes it a good match for beginners as it will give you a great foundation to explore other styles.
The word Vinyasa describes moving in a specific way that’s synchronised to the breath. This is another dynamic style where you’ll spend the majority of the time flowing in between poses. Compared to other styles that incorporate a lot of movement, Vinyasa is a little less structured, and more free flowing. While you’ll often see the same poses, like downward dog, chaturanga, and plank, you’ll generally find that each instructor has a different way of teaching the class.
If you find it hard to sit still and get bored easily, Vinyasa might just be your favourite style of yoga. There’s lots of movement and plenty of room to adapt the practice to suit your mood. Plus, there’s quite a bit of variety in between classes so you can keep things interesting.
Perhaps the most challenging style on this list, Bikram is a style of yoga that’s practised in a hot studio. It’s quite specific in the way it’s taught, with classes running for 90 minutes and incorporating the same 26 poses. The poses themselves aren’t overly difficult, but the hot temperature adds an extra challenge. There’s a strong emphasis on breathing – which is handy, because you’ll find that it doesn’t take long to get your heart pumping.
Bikram is a great style of yoga for people who love a challenge. If you’re the type of person who loves to leave a workout drenched in sweat, it won’t take you long to become addicted to Bikram. It’s not just physical – often it’s quite a mental challenge to stay present in your practice when you’re trying to cope with the heat. Plus, we hear Beyoncé is a fan, and we’re up for anything endorsed by Queen Bey.
Yin Yoga is a much slower paced class where you’ll be holding poses for a much longer time, up to five minutes. Typically the poses are more passive, as opposed to active. That doesn’t always equate to more relaxing, however, as spending more time in a pose that your muscles or joints aren’t used to can present quite a mental challenge! There’s certainly an element of relaxation as well though, and you’ll typically find that there’s a long savasana at the end to balance the session.
Yin Yoga is perfect for stress heads, people with high-pressure jobs, or those who are stretched too thin across their schedule. With its slow pace and focus on gentle pressure, you’ll leave the class having stretched out tight muscles and feeling relaxed and refreshed.
Resorative yoga is similar to Yin yoga, but with a stronger focus on restoring the body back to its optimal state. It’s a style that aims to heal by calming the central nervous system, bringing awareness back to the body and achieving a deep state of rest. You can expect to use props like bolsters and blankets to support the body into relaxation.
While everyone can benefit from this style of yoga, Restorative yoga is especially good for active people who need a gentle practice to balance their physically demanding lifestyle. It’s also great for people who feel overwhelmed — if you’re someone who feels the ‘Sunday scaries’, try a Restorative class to help you feel refreshed and ready for whatever the week can throw at you.
Unsurprisingly, Prenatal Yoga is a style designed for mums to be. As any mother will tell you, your body changes throughout your pregnancy. Prenatal yoga is adapted for pregnant women’s bodies and can help to alleviate some of the symptoms that come with pregnancy, like back pain and nausea. Some prenatal yoga classes also focus on helping to prepare for labour, with breathing and mindfulness techniques.
Many women also find that it can help with sleep – something that doesn’t always come easy during pregnancy!
If you’re expecting a bub, you’ll love Prenatal Yoga as a way to stay active and healthy during pregnancy.
And if you still can’t work out what style of yoga you might like best, may we suggest you start out like the guy at the start of our post.
(JK of course. Kinda.)