Ashtanga, Bikram, Baptiste, Hatha, Iyengar, Vinyasa, Yin....oh my! Chances are, if you are just starting a yoga practice, these words may seem like a foreign language to you, and that's totally okay!
To truly enjoy any workout, it's important to find a class or style that suits your needs, and yoga is certainly no different. Feeling lost and not sure where to start? Don’t fret! We’ve broken down the five of the most common styles of yoga and what to expect at your first class.
One of the most common practices in the West is Vinyasa Yoga, and it can be found at most studios. Looking to break a sweat and get a workout on your mat? This is the style for you. Think of it as a dance where mindfully constructed sequences synchronize your breath with your movement.
While it is a moving meditation, this practice is much more of a physical practice. You will find yourself in all levels of postures with less props, like blocks or straps, than the other styles. Modifications are always welcome in yoga, but be mindful that Vinyasa classes tend to be fast-paced. Class times can range anywhere from 45 minutes to 90 minutes, so be sure to make a note of that when you book your class.
Recommended for more dedicated Yoga-goers, Ashtanga was introduced to the West by K. Pattabhi Jois. The word itself translates to “Eight-Limbed Path.” Similar to Vinyasa, Ashtanga yoga is made up of set poses, including sun salutations, a standing series, and a floor series.
As a beginner, you will be led through the series, while the more advanced classes are self-led. This practice can get pretty sweaty, so you’ll definitely want to bring a towel and water.
Tip: If you're doing more intense yoga classes, or even "hot" classes, try bringing a yoga towel as opposed to a normal one. It will prevent your yoga mat from getting sweaty and you from from slipping.
Iyengar Yoga is rooted in proper alignment, so it is a great foundation for any yoga practice and makes a great option for beginners. Props such as bolsters, blocks, straps, and blankets are commonly used. While breath is important in all yoga, Iyengar classes are less about moving through poses and more about holding postures. This style can also be great for people recovering from injury or anyone wanting a more spiritual practice that focuses on the mind-body connection, while building strength and improving flexibility.
Looking for a class to help you wind down at the end of the day? Restorative Yoga is the best option for you. Like Iyengar, Restorative Yoga utilizes props to allow modifications to poses so they can be held longer. Restorative postures are all on the floor and encourage your body and mind to calm down, making it more of a way to relax and be with yourself than a traditional workout. If sitting alone with your thoughts scares you, or intrigues you, this might be where you want to start your practice. This class is also well suited for those who can't stand for extended periods of time.
Often confused with Restorative Yoga, Yin Yoga is a slow, spiritual practice that focuses on the deeper connective tissue called fascia. All poses are done on the floor, but they are held for longer periods of time to regulate energy and stretch our muscles. These classes are more meditative, and they are a wonderful counterpart to more Yang practices (like Vinyasa). They're also very relaxing, so don't be surprised if you hear some snoring.
Tip: While yoga is for everybody, we want to set you up for success. Look for classes that have “beginner” or “slow-flow” in the title. This will allow you to really learn the poses and acquainted with your practice.
Note that these are only a few of the many options of class types and styles of yoga. It may seem overwhelming at first, but keep an open mind and know that you might not love every class or teacher you try.
Ready for your first yoga practice?