Types Of Yoga Classes
Whether you’re new to yoga and are searching for the perfect style for you or you’re looking to expand your yoga practice, chances are that you’ve noticed that there is far more than one way to practice. Each style is a bit different from the rest, and you can find many variations depending on your teacher.
In case you’re completely new to yoga, the first thing you should note is that different practices will suit different people depending on what you want to achieve. As such, you should try to learn and experience as many of the different types of yoga practice as possible until you find the perfect one for you. Whether you want an easy, meditative, and relaxing class or a more physically demanding one, there’s something for you.
1. Hatha – Breath and Movement
Best for: improving the breathing function, restoration
Suited for: Beginners
“Hatha” (pronounced HAH-tah) is a SANSKRIT WORD that represents all the physical poses of yoga. It includes many of the traditional forms of yoga conducted in the U.S., including ashtanga, vinyasa, and power yoga. The practice itself is based on practices meant to balance both the physical and mental health.
Besides focusing on breath and physical poses, Hatha classes can vary significantly depending on the instructor and the studio, and by definition, the classes don’t necessarily need to follow a given flow. The classes are usually lower paced than say a vinyasa class by East West, and features pauses in between the different poses. As such, hatha classes are ideal for beginners, and are a perfect entry point into the practice.
2. Vinyasa – Flow or Power Yoga
Best for: Sweating and feeling as if you worked out
Suited for: Beginners to Intermediate Yogis
The term Vinyasa is an umbrella term for classes where you sequentially move from one posture to the other without the instructor stopping you for instructions. The general idea here is that you leave the course with a good workout along with the yoga experience. The poses are usually done flowing a sequence, known as a vinyasa flow. These fluid movements can easily be memorized and conducted as moving meditation, just like a dance.
The vinyasa yoga is mainly influenced by ashtanga, and some studios will refer to it as flow-style yoga, flow yoga, or dynamic yoga. It’s popularity mainly stems from the pleasant music, sensilla movements, and how it’s often (not always) practiced in a dark room or by candlelight with the eyes closed.
Best for: Improving alignment, developing physical strength.
Suited for: Intermediate Yogis
The term Ashtanga is Sanskrit for “eight limbed union”, and the yoga practice is based on eight tenets – concentration, posture, moral discipline, breath control, meditation, self-restraint, ecstasy, and sensory inhibition. Many people identify Ashtanga as the traditional Indian yoga.
In general, ashtanga involves a series of physically demanding postures, and is definitely not suited for beginners. But for the experienced yogi, it’s really easy to love it. The practice starts with five sun salutation A’s, followed by five sun salutation B’s, and then progresses into a series of floor and standing postures. In India, people gather to practice Ashtanga together at their own pace. It’s also good to know that vinyasa yoga stems from ashtanga yoga with the flowing style linking movement to breath.
Best for: Improving flexibility and correct alignment
Suited for: All levels
There are many ways of teaching Yin, but generally speaking, you will not be flowing at all when practicing this kind of yoga. Yin yoga involves staying seated or lying down on your belly or back with props. Every pose is held for a set amount of time, usually anywhere between 3 to 5 minutes depending on the instructor. This type of yoga is meant to be stretching in nature; you don’t hold poses for that long in other forms of yoga.
Stretching ideally affects your joints, muscles, and ligaments while they are activated in a more static was, instead of the more active stretching practiced in a vinyasa kind of class. As such, this form of yoga can be really good for your muscles and joints. The classes are more relaxed, and you are supposed to let gravity do much of the work. As such, it can also be a meditative practice.
There are many more styles and types of yoga practices, each with unique areas of focus, physical demands, and benefits to the body. Come and join our Bikram Retreats in Goa, India and Ubud, Bali. The most exciting destinations in Asia for a 200 hour yoga teacher training. When you do find a studio or practice that works for you and what you want to achieve, stick with it. Integrate the practice as part of your life and you’ll soon start reaping the benefits of your dedication and consistency. So, whatever the yoga practice you love, embrace it with grace and love.