If you’re new to the world of yoga and wondering where to start, we’re here to help. Below, fitness experts break down nine different styles of yoga to help you find the right yoga class for you.
Perhaps the most popular and commonly known form of yoga is vinyasa or vinyasa flow. According to the founders of Grace x Strength, vinyasa is the Sanskrit description of yoga that “syncs your breath with your movement.” Lululemon ambassador and registered yoga teacher Becca Zimble describes vinyasa as, “perfect for the student who wants to disconnect from the fast pace of life and drop into a space of deep contemplation.”
Brad Ormsby, the owner of Freedom Genesis, says hatha yoga is the perfect first practice for yoga newcomers. “This practice focuses on the fundamentals of yoga. During class, your instructor will put a lot of emphasis on your breathing when you do each pose so you become comfortable and relaxed in the pose,” he says. “By starting here, you ensure you build the proper stabilizer muscles, proper flexibility, and strength in your body.”
“Ashtanga is the oldest developed lineage of vinyasa yoga and the first to be passed down and taught in a class setting,” says yoga instructor Layla Negron. “Physically, ashtanga is a series of fixed sequences aimed to open up the entire body. It is a strong and challenging practice but suitable for even the most novice of practitioners because poses are not taught to the entire class at once but instead taught one-on-one to each student in a class setting.”
Yoga therapist Huma Gruaz explains that Iyengar is, “a meticulous style of yoga focusing on alignment.” With a higher focus on form than flow, Iyengar class is usually limited to less than five poses. According to Gruaz, this style is especially good for anyone looking to stretch sore or tight muscles.
If you’re looking for active recovery, yoga teacher Alex Tran points you here. She explains, “Restorative yoga allows your body to fully relax. You will typically experience six to 10 poses in a restorative class and spend eight to 10 minutes per pose.” For relaxation of the body or mind, restorative yoga may be the remedy.
“This is a mentally dynamic meditation that both stimulates and relaxes the brain – much in the same way the best nap of your life would. The goal is to be still for the duration of the practice,” says Kelsey Ravlich, a certified yoga instructor for Livekick. According to Ravlich, one hour of Yoga Nidra can provide as much rest as about four hours of sleep.
International yoga teacher Sarah Wisbey describes this type as, “a slow, restorative style of yoga in which postures are seated or lying down. The idea of yin is to stretch deeply, releasing the fascia surrounding the muscles.” As each pose is held for up to seven minutes, Wisbey recommends Yin as a deep stretch with benefits of a full-body massage.
“Hot yoga, sometimes called Bikram, is proof that yoga is not always slow and gentle,” says registered yoga teacher Leslie Kiel. “This variation offers a high heart rate, sweat-inducing workout and is suitable for those who are looking for such and are familiar with basic yoga poses.” She adds, “Bring a towel and a water bottle [because] heaters will be cranked up to make sure your heart rate is too!”
“As the name clearly states, prenatal yoga is yoga for pregnant women and sometimes includes their partner or birth support person,” says Ravlich. “This class can range from energetic to restorative but is always supportive and informative. Not just a physical experience, prenatal yoga classes tend to have a special focus on creating a community.”
xx, The FabFitFun Team