If you thought there was just one way to do yoga, think again. Yogi or not, there’s a style that works best for each individual, and learning about the different styles will help you decide which type of practice is right for you. Namaste!
(This list is by no means absolute, however these styles will most likely be found in your local yoga studio, meaning you won’t have to travel as far as Bali or India to try them out.)
This class is for when… you need a gentle stretch.
Whether you’ve tried your hand at yoga or not, you’ve probably heard the word ‘Hatha’ along the way (and obviously, ‘Namaste’ too). Hatha is one of the six branches of yoga and encompasses all types of yoga practice. Attending a hatha yoga class will pull from various styles and you can expect to not be doing as many ‘flows’ as you would in a Vinyasa (see: next point).
Translation: “arranging something in a special way”
This class is for when… you want to get your body moving.
A practice based on movement and flow, Vinyasa is a popular yoga style for its quick transition between postures. Here, you’re essentially turning your poses, known as asanas, into a dynamic flow. If your balance is a little off, this may be the type of practice for you as you’re not stuck in just one position for an extended period of time and you can use your breath to guide you between each position.
Translation: named after Indian-born US yoga teacher, Bikram Choudhury (born 1949).
This class is for when… you want to sweat it out. Like, really sweat it out.
Think about the hottest room you’ve ever been in. No air conditioning, no open windows, just a lot of sweat, but in a much, much more serene way. Bikram is perfect for you if you love consistency in your everyday life. You walk into the steaming hot 40 degree celsius room and expect to complete the 26 postures and two breathing sequences every time. For 90 minutes, did we mention? It’s a lot of hard work and pose-holding, so if you haven’t tried a Hatha-style or Vinyasa yoga practice yet, get on that before you enter the hot room -- trust us!
Translation: “eight-limbed yoga”
This class is for when… you want to build your core strength.
Ashtanga is similar to Vinyasa yoga, in that it has a movement-based structure, however it is much more rigid in its outline and flows. Like Bikram, there are specific poses that you must master; in this case, poses must be ‘mastered’ before moving on to the next stage.
This class is not recommended for beginners, unless you’re feeling overly confident in your Hatha or Vinyasa classes. Ashtanga is very physically demanding and certainly not for the faint-hearted as you will be expected to use your entire body in each movement. Love a challenge? Then sign up for your nearest Ashtanga class and give it hell!
Translation: “coiled one”
This class is for when… you want to practice meditation and reduce stress.
Kundalini yoga is firmly based on meditation and mastering the mind. Known as the Yoga of Awareness, awakening Kundalini energy is said to be the path to a more present life.
Instead of being a workout-based yoga practice, Kundalini is more akin to a temple than your local gym; whilst still a physical practice, you can guarantee an hour of Kundalini will come with spiritual benefits not present in your regular workout. According to the Kundalini Research Institute, the primary purpose is to use meditation to stimulate your glandular and nervous systems, and to reverse any stress in your life.
Translation: “dark and feminine”
This class is for when… you have tight muscles and bones.
The slowest of them all. Not as popular in the west for the simple fact that it’s really, really slow, Yin yoga has the power to move deeper into your body. Some poses can be held for up to 20 minutes; but if you do attend a Yin class, expect at least 2-5 minutes of pose-holding at one time. Similar to Kundalini, the time spent in the Yin poses are meant to be a time of reflection and meditation. The poses also focus on your joints, so if you have unruly hips or a shaky spine, this might just be the class for you.
Need more yoga inspo? Check out our articles on how to ward off cold weather with balancing yoga poses and an interview with yoga teacher, Persia Juliet. Time to get zen, in whatever style works best for you and your body.