There are hot classes, slow classes, fast classes, power classes, classes that focus on the spiritual aspect of yoga and hey, if you are up for it – the more athletic kick your butt classes!
Confused? Don’t be! At the end of the day – Yoga is Yoga, meaning it is really all just the same thing. But as yoga has become more popular, different styles of yoga have emerged. We have listed the most common types of yoga classes offered today, with an explanation of each one. When looking for a yoga retreat, be sure to find out the style of yoga offered so you find yourself uninspired or disappointed.
HATHA YOGA: This is a great class for beginners because you usually work on one pose at a time, as opposed to flowing from pose to pose. There is often pranayama and meditation at the end of class which will leave you balanced, relaxed and calm.
BIKRAM YOGA: Be prepared because this class is hot! Practiced in a studio where ideally the temperature will be around 40 °C (104 °F). Bikram follows the traditional Hatha teachings and every class is 90 minutes and consists of 26 poses, including 2 breathing exercises. Bikram yoga naturally detoxes you (because you sweat your butt off!) and is said to help aid in weight loss and toning of the body and the healing physical injuries.
VINYASA YOGA: If you enjoy flow, then Vinyasa is for you. Vinyasa can be cruisy and slow or more athletic and fast, so make sure to do your homework! Your breathe is important in this class as the teacher will guide you to move from pose to pose on the inhale or exhale. This is a good class if you get bored easily as the flow depends on the teacher’s style and mood.
KUNDALINI YOGA: Often described as intense, Kundalini is not for those who simply wish to stretch and relax. This yoga style combines meditation, mantras, poses and breathing techniques. The poses can be very physical and the focus is on self awareness and ones higher consciousness. If you want a more spiritual based yoga practice then Kundalini is for you.
ASHTANGA YOGA: An Ashtanga class is based off the 6 different series of Ashtanga. The student will be lead through a series of poses, beginning with sun salutations, followed by standing poses, seated poses, inversions, back bends and ending in deep relaxation. Ashtanga classes are great for people who like routine but prefer to learn at their own pace and practice individually (Once a student has mastered the sequence of Ashtanga they can attend Mysore classes which are self paced).
IYENGAR YOGA: There are three main elements of Iyengar Yoga: technique, sequence and timing. When learning Iyengar you will spend a lot of time in the same poses and your teacher will continuously adjust to ensure your technique is correct. This is a great class if you want to learn correct posture in poses and breathing techniques. The use of yoga props such as blocks and blankets are used in these classes.
RESTORATIVE YOGA: This is a slow paced class, where poses are held for approximately 10-20 minutes. Props such as blocks, bolsters and blankets are used to support the body so you can stretch deeper and easier. This class is great for stress relief and relaxation.
YIN YOGA: This style of yoga class is focused on the connective tissues such as ligaments, bones and the joints. While the class itself may be more soft and passive the poses are often held for longer periods of time. Yin Yoga is designed to compliment your usual yoga practice.