BY MELISSA GOODMAN
With many different styles of yoga it can sometimes be overwhelming when deciding on what class or style to take. The trick is finding a style that resonates with you. If you have tried yoga before and didn’t like the class, try a different style or teacher. I believe yoga is accessible and beneficial to everyone regardless of age, race, religion, flexibility and physical limitations.
Below is a list of some of the more popular styles of yoga. This list is not inclusive but will help as a guide. There are several other styles of yoga that do not require you to roll out a yoga mat such as pranayama (breath techniques), meditation and mantra (repetition of a word or phrase).
Hatha – “ha” meaning sun and “tha” meaning moon. Hatha yoga looks at balancing the masculine energy of the sun with the feminine energy of the moon. Asana (postures) are sequenced to help open the energy of the body and unite opposites, strength and flexibility.
Yin – this style of yoga looks at balancing the yin and yang. Yang places more emphasis on the muscles. Yin yoga targets the connective tissue, ligaments, bones and joints. This style of yoga is soft but challenging as asana (postures) are held anywhere from one to twenty minutes.
Ashtanga – synchronizes the breath with a series of progressively challenging postures. This process builds inner heat which helps to detoxify the body. Starting with the primary series, there are six series in total, each one offering a deeper practice to transform both body and mind.
Mysore – this is named after the city in India where Pattabhi Jois taught. This style of yoga is done as a self-paced practice, while a teacher is present the class is not lead. I have found this style to be a very safe practice as the teacher will help guide each individual student. Students range from beginners to advanced and practice within the same space.
Vinyasa – often describes a wide range of yoga styles. It is a flow based practice which uses the breath to link asana together.
Power – this is a vigorous style of vinyasa generally focusing on the physical aspect only and sometime describes as “a great workout”.
Restorative – props are used to help support the body as asana are held for longer periods of time to help bring the body into a place of relaxation. Restorative practices are performed seated or laying on the mat, if standing poses are incorporated they are more therapeutic in nature.
Hot – hot yoga is not a style but rather describes the room. In this space a wide range of styles are practiced.
Bikram – practiced in a heated room. This style follows twenty six postures and two breathing techniques.
Moksha – practiced in a heated room. The classes follow a basic structure that is fundamental to Moksha Yoga. Once students are comfortable with the Moksha structure they can continue to deepen their practice with three levels in total.
Of course the best way to know what is right for you is to try as many styles as possible and see how you feel.