Different Styles of Yoga
Here is a list of some of the different styles of the physical practice of yoga, what they are, and who should check them out.
What: Acro Yoga is a super fun and super exciting style of yoga done with one or multiple partners. It is a combination of acrobatics, performance, and yoga. Below are some pictures from some Acro Yoga classes I have taken at Charm City Yoga and at Project Yoga Richmond.
Who: Intermediate/Advanced Yogis. Beginners may attend as long as they are willing to take flight. Please tell your instructor if you are new to yoga.
What: In an Aerial Yoga class, also called anti-gravity, you perform the poses using hammocks suspended from the ceiling. The hammocks swing constantly, of course, but when you sit or lie down in them, they completely support every curve of your body.
Who: Any brave yogi or yogini looking for an exciting adventure! Be sure to tell your teacher if you are new to yoga.
What: Anusara Yoga is a style of yoga that focuses on precise body alignment. It is designed to uplift the spirit, all the while protecting the body from injury. These medium paced classes are challenging, but they allow beginners to develop a deeper connection to their bodies.
Who: All levels, but beginners should tell their instructors that they are new to yoga.
What: Ashtanga Yoga comprises several sequences in which there is one breath in each pose. There are no variations to the sequences, and it is very fast-paced.
Who: Intermediate/Advanced yogis, but beginner classes are offered.
What: This style of yoga is specifically geared toward the beginner. Instruction of the poses are very precise, and the movements are slower. Most studios have a beginners or intro to yoga classes. Look for a series where you can cultivate a relationship with the teacher and your yoga practice over many weeks.
Who: Definitely start here if you have never practiced yoga.
What: Bikram Yoga is a practice taught in 105 degree temperature with the same 26 poses in every class. Teachers speak the same script in every class too, so this style of yoga is perfect for people who do not like surprises. Beginners be forewarned: Bikram calls the studios “Torture Chambers.” The upside is that there are Bikram Yoga studios every where, so finding a class is easy, and especially convenient if you are traveling.
Who: All levels, but beginners may have an adjustment period to the temperature.
What: Gentle Yoga really is for everyone, and it can be practiced anywhere including the office! Gentle Yoga can include neck rolls, shoulder rolls, and deep breaths as a way to alleviate tension in the body. Even 5 minutes of Gentle Yoga throughout the day can benefit your stress levels tremendously.
What: Hatha Yoga is very traditional yoga. The postures are more geared for opening the body up so that meditation and breath work can be performed. This style of yoga is very accessible to people of all ages, body types, and abilities.
Who: All levels, especially appropriate for beginners.
What: Hot Yoga does not lie; it is hot, but it is less hot than Bikram. This style of yoga incorporates elements of Vinyasa yoga (see below), where rapid movement is involved. Teachers also allow you to hold the poses for several breaths to establish a deeper connection with them. The classes are taught in the heat to warm the muscles and the synovial fluid in the joints to make the practice easier for the body.
Who: All levels, but beginners should take beginner hot yoga classes.
What: Iyengar Yoga classes include blocks, straps, bolsters, and the wall to assist the practitioner in the practice. The focus is on alignment and what is going to be appropriate for the individual so that students may evolve their practice.
Who: All levels, especially appropriate for beginners.
What: Power Yoga is similar to Ashtanga Yoga in that it is extremely physically. If you want a major workout, but do not want the same sequence every time like in Ashtanga, this style is for you.
Who: Intermediate/Advanced. Beginners should look for a beginner version if one is offered at the studio.
What: Get ready to exhale. Restorative Yoga is designed to help you unwind from stress, and to reduce tension in the muscles. In a restorative class, the poses are supported using props and blankets, and are held for a much longer duration than in an athletic tradition.
Who: All levels.
What: Vinyasa Yoga intends to connect one breath with one movement. The classes vary in style and are fast-paced to build up heat in the body. The more heat your build up in your yoga practice, the further you will be able to explore the edges of your abilities.
Who: All levels, but beginners should look for a beginner Vinyasa class.
What: Yin Yoga is a style of yoga created to loosen the connective tissue in the body so that the yogi can sit in meditation. It is also beneficial for people with injuries. Poses are held for a long time, like in Restorative, but unlike Restorative, the point of holding the poses is to release the connective tissue. Yin Yoga uses gravity to aid in the release of the connective tissue.
Beginners Fear Not
Most every yoga studio offers beginner classes. Remember to always tell your yoga teacher if you are new to yoga even if the class is not a beginner class. Teachers love the opportunity to help newbies enjoy yoga.
The best way to stave off weight loss plateaus or workout boredom is to mix up your routine. Even if you have years of yoga experience, don’t be afraid to try a new style of yoga or a workshop. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and explore!