One of the biggest hurdles of starting yoga is deciding on the type of yoga that’s suited to you. It can be quite confusing for beginners, as ‘yoga’ is often deemed a general term. You may not have even realised that there were different types of yoga to choose from. While each type of yoga typically uses similar postures, they do vary dependent on the focus of the session.
Whether you wish to unwind and relax, get your heart pumping or get in touch with your spiritual side, it’s important you investigate which type of yoga is better suited to you.
Regardless of which yoga class you choose, you will come out the other side feeling much more positive, relaxed and full of energy.
Even if you attend a yoga class and it isn’t for you, it doesn’t mean you’re incapable of doing it. As there are so many different styles of yoga and so many instructors with their own teaching methods, it may just be a matter of trial and error. It’s best to read up on the different types of yoga and perhaps even join a beginner class to determine whether it fits your mental and physical objectives.
Iyengar yoga was established in the 1960s by B.K.S Iyengar. This type of yoga is all about encouraging your body to follow its proper alignment through the various postures. You’ll also be using props such as the likes of belts, blankets and blocks. Due to its slow-paced nature, you’ll be holding poses for a long period of time, but it’s ideal for beginners who wish to get to grips with the different moves.
Within Iyengar yoga, there’s also a heavy emphasis on controlling your breath (pranayama) and posture (asana), as well as building on your core strength and flexibility.
If you’re looking to burn calories and get the heart pumping, DDP yoga may be up your street. It combines traditional yoga poses with dynamic resistance to create a high-intensity workout.
Some of the key benefits of DDP yoga include fat loss, building muscle strength and improving cardiovascular performance. As this type of yoga is quite strenuous, sessions run from just 15 minutes to 60 minutes.
Within a session, you can expect to perform lunges, planks and squats to build on muscle and there will also be very few breaks, to keep your heart working hard. It would be a good idea to use a heart monitor to keep track of your heart rate and water bottle to stay hydrated.
Ashtanga was introduced at the start of the 20th century by Sri. K Pattabhi Jois. The word ‘ashtanga’ means ‘eight limbs’, which refers to the eight limbs of yoga. It focuses on incorporating the art of yoga into your everyday lifestyle. Unlike other forms of yoga, this type is physically demanding as you move from one posture to the next without a break.
Ashtanga is great for building on your core strength and toning the body while focusing on breathing techniques to help you work through the different postures. Unlike other forms of yoga, Ashtanga yoga is carried out with no music at all to achieve a mindful and relaxing experience.
4. Bikram yoga
One of the newest types, Bikram yoga (otherwise known as hot yoga) was first introduced in the 1970s by Bikram Choudhury. He developed this form of yoga by carrying out 26 postures in a temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit with a humidity level of 40% to imitate the climate of India. Why, you may be asking? Well, apparently the heat is great for loosening up the muscles and working up a sweat to get rid of toxins.
Bikram yoga builds on your core strength and tones muscles and as a result, you can benefit from weight-loss, burning calories, as well as clearing the mind and improving focus. This type of yoga is great for beginners, as the poses are easy and gentle, however, the heat may be a challenge if you’re not used to hot temperatures.
Vinyasa is perhaps the most popular form of yoga, so you’ll discover sessions at most gyms and studios. Within this type of yoga, you’ll practice the act of linking your breath with each movement. Postures are usually carried out in a streamlined sequence – almost like a dance.
However, do be aware that this type of yoga is much more fast-paced than what you may expect and can often be confusing for the beginner if you’re completely unfamiliar with the traditional poses. With this in mind, always keep an eye out for beginner vinyasa classes, so you don’t feel out of your depth.
If you’re looking for a meditative approach to yoga, Yin yoga is an option to consider. Developed by Paul Grilley with a focus on the body’s connective tissues and particularly the joints, yin yoga is slow-paced and uses traditional postures that are held for a long period of time. Beginners would be encouraged to hold poses from 45 seconds to around 2 minutes, while the more advanced may be able to last for up to 5 minutes in a single pose.
The art of yin yoga is designed to give your body relaxation and feel comfortable in each of the poses held, without having to use much inner strength. Props are often used to carry out poses and it’s common to have little or no music played within the session.
7. Sivananda Yoga
Introduced to the USA in 1957, this type of yoga is based on five basic principles. These are – proper breathing, diet, relaxation, exercise and positive thinking. Therefore, it’s a good all-round form of yoga if you’re hoping to improve your life in several areas. All of these principles combined make for a healthy lifestyle while enhancing spiritual growth.
Sivananda Yoga is performed at a slow pace, with a focus on controlling your stretches and improving physical strength.