Which yoga is right for you? Here’s a quick round up of some of the main styles you’re likely to encounter as a beginner
This is perhaps the most common yoga you’ll bump into on your travels, although it’s more of an umbrella term. In today’s popular culture, it’s seen as a generic yoga style incorporating aspects of other styles but is typically a safe, slow, gentle form of exercise, involving asanas and breathing techniques (like Vinyasa, but with less of a flow). Nonetheless, Hatha is still a powerful tool for self-transformation physically and mentally, especially for the beginner just starting out.
This form of yoga focuses on body alignment and can include the use of props (blocks, belts, blankets and cushions) to help students achieve correct form. Postures are often held for longer than other styles, encouraging muscles to relax and lengthen, helping to focus awareness. Popular with beginners, those with postural or alignment issues, or recovering from injuries.
Kundalini Yoga is a dynamic form of yoga and popular worldwide. It is as much a spiritual practice as a physical one. Involving mantras (sacred sounds), chanting, visualisation, breath work, meditation and asanas (postures), it enables the practitioner to work through emotional issues to boost joy, health and overall wellness.
A challenging and highly-structured form of yoga characterised by set sequences of postures linked together by a Vinyasa sequence. There are five sets and each practitioner must master every pose of the first series before moving on to the second series, and so on. It attracts beginners looking for a more dynamic workout, and regular yogis looking for something more physically testing.
This flowing yoga style links continuous sequences through the breath. It is less rigid than some other styles in that Vinyasa sequences can vary greatly and be more flexible; this means you can find a relaxed, gentle class or a faster moving dynamic one if you prefer (check with the teacher). Teachers often incorporate music or other styles of yoga into a session as well, to fuel the vibe.
Hot Yoga has become mega popular. There are now all kinds of hot styles, but most are derived out of Bikram Yoga. Not all like the heated studio environment but those who do swear by its rejuvenating benefits (toning, weight loss, energy levels through the roof). The heated room is also said to reduce the likelihood of injury. Classes vary enormously: they can be dynamic or relaxed, sometimes with music or dimmed lighting, so do check in advance with your teacher.
To its fans, Yin Yoga is the antidote to modern life: a slow, gentle form of yoga where just a few poses are held for several minutes releasing tense muscles. Sitting quietly in a pose and just ‘letting go’ as you unravel your body can be a great test for some though — the mind is not always so inclined to stay still! It’s a great, safe place for beginners though, and to unwind muscles that have been taut for too long.