Not sure which style of yoga is right for you? Here are the most popular options and who they’re suitable for.
Keen to try yoga?
Whether you’re just embarking on your yoga journey or if you have some previous practice, it can be a bit overwhelming trying to decide a class that suits you. After all, there’s plenty of choice on the market!
Between the more traditional types of yoga, there are also new and modern styles, and plenty of hybrids thrown in the mix. No wonder it all gets so confusing!
Whichever style you choose, you can improve your strength, flexibility, and balance. But to reap the most benefits, you should choose a yoga style that matches your current fitness level, as well as your character and goals for practicing yoga.
Ready to learn of the options? Here we go!
Table of Contents
Hatha yoga works with a combination of body postures (asanas), breathing (pranayama), and meditation (dyana) with the main goal to invigorate and exercise both the mind and body.
It’s a reasonably slow-paced practice featuring a mix of basic poses, so hatha yoga is a great place for beginners to start. It’s also where almost all modern styles of yoga originated from, so if you want to strip back to basics this is the practice for you.
Vinyasa yoga, also known as ‘flow yoga’, focuses on the fluid transition between poses. There’s constant movement and a variety of poses in a vinyasa practice, so if you’re hoping to sweat it out and lose the pounds vinyasa is a great shout.
Just as important as the fluid transition of poses is the focus on breathing which synchronizes with the movement. You’ll shift your body in time with your breath, which can often be quite physically challenging.
If you’re seeking an active practice to help you increase strength and tone your body, vinyasa works well. However, for a first class, we might suggest a gentler practice for a complete yoga newbie. The constant movement can be a bit overwhelming, especially on a first practice.
One of the more modern yoga practices, Bikram yoga is quite literally a hot commodity.
Taking place in a hot, humid, sauna-like room, Bikram sees yogis complete a series of 26 poses and two breathing exercises during classes.
Bikram yoga is a great option is you’re seeking an intense workout or detoxification, as hot yoga allows you to dig deep into big stretches, build stamina and flush toxins as you sweat it all out.
However, hot yoga isn’t suitable for pregnant women and if you have a medical condition such as diabetes, it’s best to consult your doctor before trying it out.
When it comes to restorative yoga, forget sweating and think relaxation. Restorative yoga is all about the healing of the mind with the practice of holding simple poses with the help of comfy props such as bolsters, pillows, and straps.
As it’s such a calm, gentle practice, restorative yoga is perfect for beginners that want to dip their toes into the world of yoga. It also works well for those recovering from emotional trauma or illness and injury, as the focus is on the curing of the mind rather than working up a sweat.
As you guessed, prenatal yoga is ideal for expectant mothers and those who have recently delivered.
The focus of prenatal practice is to help you prepare for all stages of the pregnancy – including labor – through appropriate stretching and focused breathing.
If you’re interested in prenatal yoga but haven’t practiced yoga before, you may want to wait until the second trimester to start. Practicing before this may make you feel faint, sick, or dizzy.
Ready to tone? Ashtanga is a vinyasa-style practice, using six pose sequences which are practiced rapidly while synchronizing with the breath.
Since the transitions between the poses occur quickly, ashtanga yoga is best suited to those who have some experience with quicker-paced practices.
It’s a tough practice, so beginners interested in the benefits ashtanga can provide for the body should experiment with gentler styles of yoga before wading into the pool of ashtanga. And if you have sensitive joints, ashtanga may not be a suitable practice for you.
It’s Time to Stretch!
The best way to find out which style of yoga works for you is to try different classes and teachers and see what you enjoy most.
As always, it’s best to check with your doctor before embarking on a new exercise or fitness regime, especially if you have any medical issues or are an older adult. Trying yoga at home? Here are 4 easy and effective standing yoga poses for beginners to help you ease into it.