Yoga comes in many forms and there really is a style to suit everyone. All yoga styles will relax the mind, condition the body and improve your wellbeing, however the style best suited to you may differ considerably to that which works for others.
With different postures producing different emotional and physical effects, it is important to weigh up the benefits of each style in order to determine the right one for you.
There are many different types of yoga to choose from. Here are some of the most popular.
Ashtanga yoga originated in Mysore, India. Thanks to its popularity with celebrities, Ashtanga played a large part in yoga’s explosion in popularity in recent years, with many looking to replicate the strong and lean figures of stars such as Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Ashtanga yoga provides an incredible cardiovascular workout, making it ideal for those looking to lose weight and tone up fast. Six strenuous pose sequences are practised sequentially, with rapid movements from one pose to the next, accompanied by inhaling and exhaling breaths.
Created by Bikram Choudhury, Bikram yoga involves holding yoga poses in a room heated to temperatures comparable to those one would find in a sauna (105 degrees at 40% humidity). You’ll practice 26 basic yoga postures twice per class, with the temperatures contributing to an intense workout.
Like Ashtanga yoga, Bikram can contribute to weight loss, with 350-600 calories burned per class. If you’re looking to increase your stamina and tone your body, and you aren’t afraid to work hard and sweat, then this is the class for you. Don’t forget your water!
This more classic approach to yoga was originally designed to prepare the body for meditation and focuses on a combination of both breathing and postures. You will find classes to suit various paces and abilities, from beginners to advanced, making Hatha yoga a great choice for everyone.
Hatha contributes many of the health benefits often associated with the practice of yoga, including lowering stress and blood pressure, as well as increasing flexibility and strength.
Championed by everyone from Russell Brand to Christy Turlington, Kundalini yoga is a less physical, more spiritual style. Kundalini classes focus on meditation, breathing and often also chanting, with fluid movements designed to encourage energy to flow through your seven chakras.
The style reinvigorates the mind and body, leading to an increase in focus and a healthy glow that radiates from the inside out.
Vinyasa yoga, or power yoga as it is also known, was developed from Ashtanga yoga and requires continuous movements throughout the class. A combination of standing and seated poses, including the well-known sun salutation, will provide the body with a thorough workout.
Expect to work towards more advanced movements as your strength, flexibility and balance develop, including shoulder stands and headstands.
Yoga guru B.K.S. Iyengar developed his method of yoga in the 1930’s and the method has been used to treat neck and back pain ever since. Iyengar yoga focuses on perfecting alignment in order to strengthen the muscles and support the joints.
Props including blocks and straps are often used to help manoeuvre the body into poses, with a combination of standing and seated asanas, plus inversions and backbends, performed over an average 90 minute class.
Yoga has been developed to treat a countless number of ailments and conditions, with styles varying greatly in the benefits they are designed to offer. For those who suffer back or joint pain, or those who are pregnant, yoga offers a safe but beneficial form of exercise.
Whether you choose a more gentle style or something a little more challenging, you’ll benefit from the same quietening of the mind, relaxation and release of tension regardless. With a style chosen to suit your fitness levels, you can enjoy the best results, whatever your goals.