While many people find it difficult to make time in their bodies to sit and breathe with it, yoga is, in fact, for everybody. In its Western form, there are tons of different styles of yoga practice for you to choose from.
Whether you want something more dynamic and sweaty to really stretch and flush out the body or would prefer something a little more relaxing that requires you to hold the poses for longer – there is a perfect yoga practice for whatever you may need. Remember, you might need something faster or slower depending on the day or your mood, so don’t rule anything out until you try it!
Vinyasa, sometimes called flow because of the smooth way that the poses are joined together, is one of the most popular contemporary styles of yoga. It’s a broad classification that encompasses many different types of yoga, including Ashtanga and Power yoga. A traditional vinyasa class is divided up into different sequences and will require you to focus on your breath whilst you move through different poses. It is perfect for those who don’t want to move during their yoga class and feel as if they have had a little workout after class is finished.
Hot yoga is practiced in a heated room and is sure to get you very sweaty. There is a traditional bikram sequence that classes often follow and, after a while, you will be able to build up your practice as your body gets used to the heat. This class is great for if you feel like you need a bit of a detox but, be careful if you have low blood pressure or don’t do well in heat as, you are likely to feel light-headed or dizzy in some of the poses!
Kundalini Yoga is a blend of Bhakti Yoga (a practice that involves chanting), Raja Yoga (the practice of meditation as well as physical and mental control) and Shakti Yoga (a practice that involves more energy and power). A good Kundalini class will clear your mind, give you a workout and allow you to enjoy letting it all go through chanting and singing (although this is not for everyone – especially for beginners who often come to yoga looking for something more physical at first).
Hatha is a great place to start if you’re new to yoga. Hatha is different to Vinyasa; it is more gentle, a little slower, and encourages students to focus on proper alignment and form to support their bodies. This means that you can focus on your poses and learning how to do them properly before moving too quickly and feeling overwhelmed. It will also allow you to focus more on the breath, which is key to practicing yoga.
Iyengar, is a form of Hatha yoga that has more emphasis on detail, precision and alignment in the performance of posture and breath control. The development of strength, mobility and stability is gained through practicing different sequences and poses. Iyengar might be a great place to go next if you have been practicing Hatha yoga for a while and feel like you can handle a little bit more or want to perfect your poses.
Ashtanga is similar to Vinyasa yoga in the way that they both are more physically demanding practices. Ashtanga yoga is a system of yoga that involves synchronizing the breath with a progressive series of postures. The sequence is designed to make you sweat that should detoxify all your muscles and organs. A traditional ashtanga class follows the same series of poses very precisely each time while, Vinyasa incorporates many similar postures but the class is never really the same each time.
Restorative yoga is a form of yoga that seeks to achieve physical, mental and emotional relaxation using props like blankets, bolsters and blocks. The use of these props make it much easier for you to relax the body and really settle into the poses as they are sometimes held for up to 15 minutes. This practice is great for people that are constantly rushing around and suffer from stress, as it asks them to stop and just turn off for an hour. Restorative can help you to really relax the body and mind and will help you to sleep much better if you suffer from insomnia.
Yin is similar to restorative in the way that it is a much yoga practice and individual poses are held for longer periods of time. Although it is slower, it is still difficult in different ways as holding poses for a while can be uncomfortable and you might feel as if you really need to get out of them. The challenge is to stay and focus on the breath, allowing your body to release anything that it is holding on to. Yin is great for everyone to try and if you think you don’t need it or would rather do something more fast-paced, you probably really do need to slow it down!