MAY, 2015 – Which Type of Yoga is For You?
There are many types of yoga to choose from these days. If you are looking for a good work out, to relax or just find a new way of connecting with ourselves in our free time, the benefits of doing yoga are endless. The reasons why you may be practicing or seeking a yoga class may vary, but we all know one thing is for sure, that yoga makes us feel good.
Whether it is to reduce stress, increase our focus, lose weight, stretch and strengthen or meet new people, the physical benefits are many that it makes it difficult to list them all in one blog post! We know that with increased flexibility, balance and muscle tone and the sensation of feeling relaxed after laying down on the mat at the end of the class makes us almost always feel great, and for many, a feeling that we want to come back for more.
Yoga can be for everyone! If you are interested in a workout to tune into your own body’s rhythms, with a focus to understand and accept your limits as one of the biggest challenges, there are various styles to choose from.
Choosing the right class and teacher is important to make sure you get out of the class what you are looking for. Although, you may be surprised that what you are looking for also changes as you adapt and stretch to new ideas. That is what yoga seems to do, open us up to new possibilities and connecting to ourselves and others with ways that we may never have imagined.
With the many styles and classes to choose from, we thought we would outline a few here but we recommend trying all of them and going with what feels best! Here’s a short, but sweet breakdown, so you can decide which one is best for YOU.
What: Ashtanga is a style of yoga based on ancient teachings and brought to the West by Pattabhi Jois. It uses the same sequence of postures connected to the breath with each movement. It incorporates fast-paced cardio with strength training that is vigorous and a physically demanding practice.
Who: Ideal for people who like sticking to a routine and for those who want a more intensive yoga class.
What: Iyengar yoga was established in the West in the 1970s by B.K.S. Iyengar, who focused on postures with attention to proper alignment. Iyengar yoga often uses props such as blankets, blocks and ropes and while you might not get your heart rate way up in this type of class, it is a good choice for those seeking to stay put in balance and concentration or heal certain ailments and physical injuries in the body.
Who: Anyone with an injury or chronic condition will benefit from this yoga, which is often recommended as healing therapy.
What: Hatha Yoga refers to classes based on the traditional set of yoga poses and may include meditation between poses as well as longer relaxation at the start and end of a class. A series of sun salutations and inversions may get the heart rate going, but it is a subtle difference in activity compared to other active yoga styles. Hatha yoga is based on several lineages from India and emphasizes internal presence and awareness in each movement.
Who: Hatha yoga is good for those seeking to connect to their bodies through gentle stretching and meditaiton between poses or looking for a more introspective and gentle, yet intense workout in a class.
What: Vinyasa Yoga is characterized by fluid movements and frequent switching between different poses, which raises the heart rate. Vinyasa comes from the Sanskrit word “flow” and uses different movements in a sequence with smooth transitions between postures.
Who: Good for those who like to change it up, since Vinyasa teachers tend to mix up the routine for each class and may have music as a background.
What: Restorative yoga uses a blend of props and passive poses to create postures without having to exert any effort. If you are seeking to connect with yourself and have a relaxing yoga experience to calm the nerves and relax in postures, it has been said that a good restorative class is more rejuvenating than a nap as you open and stretch the body and energy centers without force or much movement.
Who: For those looking to enjoy a class and not feel they will need a big workout. It’s great for anyone looking for relaxation and to calm any stress or anxiety, in fact, just about anyone could use a little profound rest!
What: Acroyoga evolved as a playful form of yoga combining acrobatics with two people balancing, grounding and soaring as a partnership during the practice involving yoga asanas. It emphasizes trust and movement that may appear as a dance and choreography for those advanced practitioners.
Who: For those seeking to have fun and engage with others in a yoga practice and engage in a shared physical and emotional practice to work on trust and communication with others.
We recommend you research more about the styles of yoga that are available to you. The discipline of yoga is a great exercise and way to tune into the body and undeniably, a profound and exact science of the ages whose effects can surely be felt with patience and discipline.
We hope you find a yoga that is right for you and work gently with the postures and your body. The greatest teacher you have is you, so listen carefully to what your body says in each pose and never go beyond your limit. Practice yoga with caution and choose your teachers carefully.
Our favourite is to blend Hatha, Vinyasa and Iyengar in the classes with our variety of teachers and adjust the classes to all levels. We encourage classes for beginners but can bring options into the classes for more advanced practitioners. Our teachers tune themselves into the individual needs of the group and work with a dynamic that benefits everyone.
You’d be surprised at the harmonious energy that comes together in a group that is open and willing to learn. It’s important to realize that it’s not the level and number of years of practice that makes for a great yoga class, but individual intention with a focus on blending comfortable exertion with peaceful relaxation in each of the poses that together creates a wonderful fusion of energetic bliss and calm surrender that makes for a pretty amazing yoga class.
Yoga Teachers photo credit: Luciana Camargo, Dani Zimetbaum, Joâo Paulo Pereira