Which Style of Yoga is Right for You?
This is one of the most common questions I get as a yoga teacher.
Ashtanga, Bikram, Vinyasa flow, Jivamukti, Viniyoga, Integral, Forrest, Power yoga, Yin, Restorative, Iyengar, Kundalini, Anusara, Hatha, Baptiste, even Laughter yoga!…the list goes on and on. No wonder people are confused!
There are dozens of different types of yoga. Whether you want something physically demanding or more relaxing, renewing, and meditative, yoga has you covered! The best thing is that no matter what type of yoga you choose, you’ll still receive all of the many health benefits.
Today I’ll focus on six of the most popular styles and break them down for you in detail. I have my preferences, but I’ve tried to refrain from expressing my opinion here so you can make your own decision without any outside influence.
(After you’ve finished reading, try taking this fun little quiz I created that will tell you which style of yoga you’re best suited for!)
Let’s get started!
Vinyasa flow is a physically beautiful style of yoga, partially influenced by dance. All of the poses flow seamlessly from one to another.
Vinyasa classes typically start with Sun salutations, a series of poses where each movement is matched to the breath. Sun salutations wake up the body and prepare you for the rest of the practice. Most Vinyasa flow yoga classes move quickly from pose to pose, which can get your heart rate up and be physically demanding.
Iyengar is a style of yoga that focuses on proper alignment. The Iyengar style uses a lot of props: blocks, straps, yoga blankets, and chairs. The props help bring a yogi into safe alignment for each pose, and therefore this style is great for people with injuries or people that just want to explore a pose in a different way.
The Iyengar yoga stye is very precise and detail-oriented. You’ll be amazed at how just moving one muscle very slightly can completely change how a pose feels in your body.
“To me, Iyengar yoga is the grammar of yoga. Once you know the grammar, you can write poetry.”
This is the heated style of yoga. Bikram yoga’s sauna-like rooms are specifically heated to 105 degrees. There are 26 fixed poses that you go through twice in every class.
Hot yoga classes, on the other hand, are different from the structured Bikram classes. They are very physical yoga classes (usually in a variation of Power or Vinyasa style) heated to variable degrees.
Both Bikram and hot yoga classes can be very strenuous, so be cautious if you’ve never practiced in extreme heat.
Restorative yoga is a very gentle style of yoga used for calming the mind and nervous system. This style is wonderful for beginners and people who have limited mobility or injuries, but that said, everyone can benefit from the relaxation of restorative yoga (I’m looking at you, my power-driven Type A friends)!
Like Iyengar yoga, the restorative style uses a lot of props (especially bolsters and blankets), but instead of focusing on precise alignment like Iyengar, the focus is on complete relaxation and self-care.
I especially love to practice restorative yoga in the evening when I’m winding down after a long day. I see it as a little gift to myself.
Ashtanga yoga is an intense, fast-paced, physically demanding style created by Patthabi Jois in the 1960s. True Ashtanga classes have a series of set poses performed in the same order each class.
Ashtanga was very influential with the contemporary yoga we see today, especially the Vinyasa and Power yoga styles.
Hatha is an umbrella term that includes all types of physical yoga (Iyengar, Vinyasa, Power, etc). However, nowadays Hatha is also frequently used to describe a basic gentle yoga class. When referenced this way, Hatha is a slower-pace class, great for beginners.
The main focus of this style is to create a balance between a peaceful mind and a healthy body. Hatha yoga asks us to bring attention to our breath and be present in each moment. It’s a powerful tool for transformation.
Now for the fun part!
I’ve created a personality-type quiz to help you figure out which style of yoga is right for you! If you’ve read through this blog and still have questions, this quiz might help you out. I had SO much fun making the quiz for you, and I really hope you love it. Enjoy!
One last thing: All of these styles have their merits. Yoga is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Everyone is different, and therefore different styles will appeal to different people! I urge you to try a variety of yoga styles until you find one that suits you and that you’ll stick with.
Thanks for reading! Now I want to hear from you. What styles of yoga do you enjoy? Is there a style you haven’t tried yet, but you’d like to? Comment below and tell me about it!