Looking for something equally relaxing and physically active? Do yoga. Or do you want to just stretch after a long day at work? Again, do yoga. Or do you wish for some physically demanding practices? Yoga! Yoga is a dynamic practice, and this article will serve as a beginner’s guide for selecting which style or type of yoga will cater to your needs.
What are the Different Styles of Yoga?
Yoga is an ancient art that centres on physical practices such as yoga poses, yoga postures, and breathing techniques, all aiming to hone one’s body awareness. It is also a spiritual practice catering to one’s spiritual energy and improving self-awareness.
Owing to its rich history and ancient roots, yoga has evolved to be a dynamic practice with different yoga styles developing through the efforts of various yoga teachers. Such development was undertaken to find the right yoga style to be taught to multiple yoga classes.
Before knowing how to choose which style to use, it is integral to know more about the different yoga styles. Knowing them means knowing their roots, components, and the yogic philosophy they adhere to. Below are the descriptions of the said yoga styles, as well as who they are for:
Much like most modern styles of yoga, Anusara is a derivative of another yoga style- Hatha. Hatha originally refers to slow yoga focused on breathing techniques and basic poses these days; however, it is a blanket term that covers all its derivatives: Vinyasa, Iyengar, Power Yoga, and Anusara. As a derivative, Anusara yoga borrows 250 yoga poses from Hatha yoga
The central yogic philosophy of Anusara is a proper alignment with the divine through knowing oneself fully and expressing creatively. In this yogic philosophy, Anusara teachers have the independence to practice their style in their yoga class. Generally, however, Anusara yoga classes start with a chant, followed by the execution of yoga poses, and end with meditation.
Who it is for: Beginners and those seeking a gentle, slow-paced yoga style
Another derivative of Hatha, the Iyengar yoga, emphasizes correct alignment by teaching the correct way for every yoga pose. Iyengar teachers rely on props such as blocks, straps, harnesses, chairs, and boards to achieve the ideal results. Some Iyengar classes are kept small for teachers to be able to pay more attention to the students and ensure that they learn.
Aside from being able to learn and do correct yoga poses, props also give practitioners more options to relieve aches and pains in the body through stretching.
Who it is for: Beginners seeking to better understand basic yoga postures and advanced yogis who want to further practice correct alignment
As the name suggests, Prenatal yoga is the style that expectant mothers can use. It helps stretch and strengthen muscle groups that are most likely to be compromised in pregnancy, such as those in the abdomen, lower back, and pelvis. By doing so, Prenatal yoga helps in alleviating common pregnancy ailments, as well as prepares them for labour.
In addition to expectant mothers, prenatal yoga classes are also offered to those who recently delivered as a way to alleviate the leftover effects of pregnancy, such as nausea, headaches, insomnia, and occasional pain.
Who it is for: Expectant mothers and those who recently gave birth. For newbie yogis, however, prenatal yoga is best left for the second trimester onwards, as practising earlier might make you feel faint, sick, or dizzy.
Restorative yoga, as the name suggests, emphasizes healing. It is all about healing the mind and the body through relaxation. Despite relaxation being the centrepiece of this yoga style, it is not without yoga poses. In Restorative yoga, poses are done slowly and held for a long time with the aid of props such as bolsters, pillows, and straps.
Given that yoga poses in Restorative yoga classes are done slowly and held for some time, it can be considered slow yoga. Moreover, holding the poses helps get the mind meditative, further contributing to the healing and relaxing aspects of the Restorative yoga style.
Who it is for: People seeking to recover from something that hinders their daily life and those just seeking to relax. This includes those recovering from illness, injury, or even emotional turmoil. This is also for those recovering from more physically demanding practices
Founded by yoga teacher Bikram Choudhury, Bikram yoga is hot yoga Singapore meaning yoga classes done in this style are spent in a hot environment (100 degrees Fahrenheit/40.6 degrees Celsius). In doing so, practitioners of Bikram yoga may simultaneously dig deep into their stretches, build their stamina, and flush toxins from their bodies.
Bikram yoga classes are usually spent doing a series of 26 poses and two breathing exercises while in a hot room or environment. While strenuous, the benefits of this yoga style are numerous and include reducing stress, cleansing, stretching the body, and ensuring that the body stays in top shape.
Who it is for: Fitness buffs, people seeking some challenge, and those who wish to improve their physique. This is NOT for pregnant women and those with heart problems.
6) Vinyasa Flow
Also called Power Yoga or Flow Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga is a yoga style that incorporates fluid transitions in between poses. The word Vinyasa is derived from the Sanskrit term Nyasa and the prefix vi, which means “to place” and “in a special way”. Due to the number of movements and variety of arrangements, Vinyasa yoga has multiple substyles.
Probably the best known, Ashtanga yoga is a Vinyasa-style practice combining proper yoga pose with appropriate breathing techniques. Ashtanga yoga classes are usually spent rapidly and sequentially doing six yoga poses while properly synchronizing the movement with breathing.
Another Vinyasa-style yoga practice, founded by David Life and Sharon Gannon, is Jivamukti yoga. Jivamukti means “liberation while living”. It is a physically and intellectually intense style. Jivamukti yoga classes are themed classes that often include chanting, music, and scripture readings.
Overall, Vinyasa yoga classes are challenging. As a yoga style that emphasizes fluidity and rapidity of pacing, Vinyasa yoga can be counted as a physically demanding practice. Expert yoga teachers best guide beginners
Who it is for: Generally, yoga practitioners who are more advanced or at least have intermediate-level experience doing yoga. Beginners are also welcome for as long as they are open to challenges and learning. Jivamukti yoga is recommended for those who wish to explore philosophy alongside yoga.
How Do You Choose?
Before choosing which style to use, it is always essential to have a high sense of self-awareness.
First, ask yourself, “what do I want to do?”. Doing yoga is not merely doing some simple, mindless exercise. Yogic philosophy emphasizes treating the mind, body, and soul as one. Moreover, the different yoga styles cater to other desires, such as the desire to relax, challenge, etc. Hence, asking yourself what you want is the first step.
What follows should be knowing what you can do. Part of self-awareness is body awareness which includes being aware of what your body can and cannot do. Not having the proper body awareness and jumping into whatever yoga style you see or want may spell more harm than good for you and your overall yoga journey.
Yoga is a dynamic practice. Aside from improving your body, it also replenishes your spiritual energy. Knowing the right style for you may help you maximise your yoga experience and persist in your yoga journey until you have incorporated it into your daily life.
Of course, properly knowing how to do yoga goes beyond having the desire and the yoga mat. Attending suitable yoga classes, especially in the best yoga studio Singapore, under the tutelage of the right yoga teacher for yoga teacher training and practising the best yoga style for you would be important.