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Yoga – it’s everywhere. You can’t walk through a city or browse a website without seeing a yoga class advertised! Studios are popping up everywhere, offering every type of imaginable style. But what does it actually take to find out the yoga class that suits your needs? We’ve listed 4 common styles below to get you started!
Let’s start slow! Yin yoga is a restorative type of yoga, in which postures, also called asanas, are held for 3 to 5 minutes. This allows your muscles to experience a deep release, accessing tightness by targeting deep connective tissue. This style of yoga is more passive, and most of the class is spent on the floor. If you’re terrified at the idea of being stuck in a room full of sweaty yogis moving quickly on their mats, this is a great entry-level yoga to commit to! The mental benefits of sitting in a meditative state for a longer period of time are widely documented; why not give it a go! For more experienced vinyasa flow enthusiasts, yin yoga can be very challenging, too (trust me.) Sitting in a stretch for more than 5 breaths, which is typically the case, takes yoga to a whole new level.
Ashtanga translates to ‘eight limbs’; the eight aspects of this style of yoga can (and should!) be carried into your everyday life. Ethical standards, self-discipline, posture, breath, sensory withdrawal, concentration, meditation and ecstasy (!).This practice is a fast-paced 90 minute class which is divided up into a standing, seated and finishing sequence. The ultimate goal is to reach a meditative state whilst you are sweating through the asanas, typically in a ‘Mysore-style’ class, a self-practice session that is not led by a teacher, but rather assisted if you get stuck or need adjustment. You’re essentially just showing up for 90 minutes of alone time on your mat, and your teacher will come help you when you need it. Complete beginners will definitely find this style of yoga challenging, but it is extremely rewarding, as you track your progress, both mentally and physically, from class to class. The more you practice, the stronger and more focused you become! Ashtanga is my practice of choice; it’s instilled discipline and rigour into my everyday life, too. I’m easily distracted, so if you’re looking to commit, this is the yoga for you!
Iyengar yoga loves the use of props, like bricks, straps and even the wall, to help you into postures, and keep you there comfortably. The pace is relatively slow and you are encouraged to be highly aware of your breath and physical state to build strength and cultivate stability. Iyengar is very accessible, and also a great way to understand or remind yourself, for more advanced practitioners, the importance of proper alignment. If you’re into anatomy and interested in the way your body works on a technical level, this kind of yoga will definitely feed your inner yoga nerd. Nevertheless, it’s a great excuse to lie down on the floor with your legs up against the wall, and just like yin yoga, has immense mental benefits.
The word vinyasa literally means ‘arranging in a special way’. Vinyasa classes are often described as ‘flows’, and not unlike Ashtanga yoga, the sequence is normally logically organised, taking you through some initial warming-up postures, followed by a tough ‘warrior sequence’ (burn those quads), moving to the floor for some seated work and finishing with more relaxing postures. You can expect to have your endurance tested, as well as your ability to match breath to movement, which defines the flow component of vinyasa yoga. Whilst Ashtanga yoga never changes, there’s a great element of freedom to vinyasa yoga. Teachers are free to assemble their class to bring focus to a certain muscle group or body part, so it’s very unlikely that you’ll attend a vinyasa class with two different teachers but the same asana sequence! It’s great for beginners, too, as most postures have modifications.
Author: Elise, barelifestyle.co.uk BARE. Lifestyle Blog