Different Types of Yoga: The Right Style for You
Have you ever found yourself confused by all the yoga styles there are?
To show off our beautiful bodies, many choose to start working out during the summer. Under Hong Kong’s scorching hot weather, yoga is a popular workout since you can stay indoors enjoying AC while practicing (or outdoors, if you’d like). However, deciding what style to choose can become quite a challenge for beginners. The distinction between each styles is not always crystal clear, not to mention there are so many of them! So how should a beginner choose what style of yoga to practice?
For starters, yoga is an ancient Hindu practice that has been adapted to be used for wellness and relaxation. It has been around for at least 5000 years, and has progressively gained global popularity due to the numerous positive effects on the mind and body. Yoga seems to be getting more and more fancy and complicated, you might even be intimidated by the types of yoga there are. Here, we have compiled a few common yoga styles, so beginners can get a sense of what to expect.
Hatha yoga is the original, most common, and often most gentle yoga class. “Hatha” means Sun or Moon in Sanskrit and represents wilfulness and stillness in practicing yoga. Most, if not all types of yoga have their roots in Hatha Yoga. This type of yoga commonly refers to a class that focuses on the physical practice of yoga, without other elements like meditation or chanting. It’s good for those who want to relieve stress or simply get a taste of yoga, especially beginners.
If you are looking to sweat in yoga, this is the style for you! Bikram yoga is often practiced in artificially heated rooms that are at around 36-40 degrees. It is a relatively new yoga style with challenging aerobic poses that encourage blood flow with high temperature. It is beneficial for people with injuries, beginners and those who wish to lose weight. However, it may be physically demanding to some, so it is important to examine your health before practicing Bikram yoga.
Yin yoga, created in the 70s, is a relatively new style of yoga that incorporates Taoist traditions. It aims to improve flexibility and encourage a feeling of release, often combined with the basics of meditation. It is restorative in a physical and mental sense. It is ideal for those who need to release tension, improve joint health and those looking to reduce injury.
As its name suggests, aerial yoga is done “in the air”, on a loop secured to the ceiling with a cloth hammock or silk. It is sometimes called “AntiGravity Yoga” or “Fly Yoga”. Your sense of balance and coordination will be put to the test, but improve quickly with consistent practice. You’ll be able to lengthen and decompress your spine, releasing tension on muscles and bones. It’s a relatively new type of yoga, combining elements of yoga and dance, thus popular amongst youngins recently.
Iyengar yoga is one of the more traditional types of yoga., with emphasis on finding the proper alignment in a pose It trains your muscles and joints, and is good for practicing yoga basics. Poses are often held for a long time, while adjusting the minutiae of the pose. It’s good for beginners, but also anyone who wants to improve their foundational yoga skills. Bonus: your neck and back pain will also most likely be relieved by practicing Iyengar!
Ashtanga is a rigorous style of yoga that follows a specific sequence of poses, requiring synchronization between breath and movement. It is similar to Vinyasa, but different in that poses are not always performed in the exact same order. While practicing Ashtanga, you will sweat, and maybe pant, but it will definitely be rewarding. It is definitely not for a beginner yogi, so ideal for intermediate yoga practitioners that want more intensive yoga classes.
Vinyasa yoga is all about “flow”, hence its second name, “flow yoga”. It requires coordination between your breath and movements, and involves elements of rhythm and dance. Sequences in Vinyasa yoga may be fluid and creatively designed with no fixed sequence, unlike Ashtanga. Vinyasa yoga is moderately demanding, so it’s perfect if you’re up for a challenge or want to lose some extra weight.
How to choose which type?
We’ve talked about several common types of yoga, but there are many more waiting to be discovered! After learning about these types, you should consider your health and expectations. Some yoga styles are more physically demanding, while others with a heavier emphasis on relaxation and meditation. Try asking yourself: why is it that you want to practice yoga? Do you do it as a work out, want to get rid of back pain, or want more inner peace? These reasons may affect what type of yoga you choose to practice. Yoga classes can also be adapted to needs of specific groups, such as yoga for pregnant women, elderly, or children. If you are still clueless, you can even consult a yoga master. One’s yoga experience may differ quite a bit depending on the yoga style, making an informed choice can be useful.
All in all, the most important part is to get started. Experiment with a few types, and you will quickly learn what is most suitable for yourself. Keep track of the changes happening to your body, and adjust your yoga learning plan accordingly. Have fun!
If you wish to consult with an expert or find a class near you, we have an extensive listing of Hong Kong’s best yoga classes with highly experienced teachers!