Have you ever been completely baffled by a yoga class schedule? With so many different styles of yoga, it can be a daunting task to choose the one that’s right for you. Some are vigorous while others are more passive. Some focus on flexibility while others focus on strength. Oh, let’s not forget the ones you can’t even pronounce!
Whether you’re a beginner looking to try yoga for the first time or just looking to try a different style than your usual, we’ve taken a look at the various styles of yoga. In this quick guide, we explain what each style involves to make it easier for you to know where to begin.
AcroYoga blends yoga fundamentals with elements of cross training and acrobatics. It’s all about mastering breath, focusing the mind and working up a sweat. Not to mention, it’s a whole heap of fun!
Anusara places a strong emphasis on physical alignment. Classes are usually low-key and accessible, often with a focus on heart opening.
According to Gaiam, Ashtanga is a fast-paced, intense style of yoga that follows a specific sequence of postures. It is similar to Vinyasa yoga, as each style links every movement to a breath. Expect a challenging (read: sweaty) class.
In a Bikram class, you will sweat like never before as you work your way through a set series of 26 poses in a room heated to around 38’ C. Like Ashtanga, a Bikram class always follows the same sequence. So, if you get bored easily, this isn’t the style of yoga for you.
Yoga Journal defines Hatha as the practice of physical yoga postures. It is a slow-paced and gentle way of practicing, great for beginners or those who prefer a more relaxed style where they hold poses longer.
This form of Hatha yoga is all about props and precision. Things like belts, blocks and blankets are often used to ensure that the body is perfectly aligned in every posture. It’s a great one for beginners who still want to feel challenged, as the props allow you to experience asanas that would otherwise take years of practice.
If you’re looking for a yoga practice with a spiritual focus, Jivamukti is the way to go. It’s similar in physical style to Vinyasa, but also incorporates music, chanting, philosophy and meditation. It’s suitable for all experience levels.
Just like Jivamukti, Kripalu is an extremely spiritual form of yoga. There’s an emphasis on meditation and controlling your breath. Like most forms of Hatha yoga it’s quite gentle and simple: just prepare to do some serious self-reflection!
This style of yoga is like a blend between Bikram and Jivamukti. It’s quite physically structured (and a decent workout) but has a strong focus on meditation. It’s suitable for beginners, as long as you take it slow!
As the name suggests, this yoga style is all about restoring your physical and mental wellbeing. It’s similar to Yin yoga, in that a typical sequence usually only includes five or six poses held for five minutes or more. It’s not for anyone looking for a serious workout but is fantastic for stress and anxiety relief.
This is a slow-paced style of yoga specifically for expecting mothers. It generally combines gentle postures from Hatha and Restorative yoga that are safe for pregnancy. It’s suitable for women at all stages of their pregnancy, from conception to 40 weeks.
This is an extremely traditional form of Hatha yoga. A typical class goes for 90 minutes and begins and ends with prayers or mantras. There are usually 12 basic postures and several breathing exercises. If you want to increase your strength and flexibility while still boosting relaxation, opt for Sivananda.
“In this style of yoga, you’re essentially linking the breath to the movement, which makes it a moving meditation. Each movement is inspired by breath and encourages you to slow down and move with intention and ease—even if it doesn’t always feel ‘easy’. It’s essentially a flowing variation of Ashtanga yoga. In contrast to Ashtanga, however, no two classes are the same and it does not follow a set sequence,” explains Kate Kendall, Co-Founder & Director of Yoga at Flow Athletic.
“A deeply relaxing class, Yin yoga aims to create greater mobility and an overall sense of calm. By holding postures for extended periods of time we target the connective tissues, regulating the flow of energy in your body. This class is ideal for those who feel tired, over stimulated, erratic or over energised,” says Kendall.