What type of yoga is best for you?July 4, 2019
From gentle and restorative forms of practice to fast-flowing and dynamic, find the perfect yoga class to help you wind down and tone up
With a multitude of health benefits from banishing stress to boosting posture, strengthening muscles and helping with calorie burn, it’s fair to say yoga is a wellness trend with serious benefits. But if you’re a yoga virgin, haven’t been for ages, or just feel bamboozled by all the different types on offer (the opposite of zen), don’t worry – we’ve got the experts to break down some of the key types and who they’re best for so you can get your om on with ease.
Meticulousness is the name of the game when it comes to Iyengar classes, which take a methodical approach to mastering yoga postures – from downward-facing dogs to standing balances. “Classes include thorough demonstrations, a focus on proper alignment and the use of props to help you deepen your understanding of each posture and help with form,” explains triyoga yoga manager Genny Wilkinson Priest. Purported benefits include developing strength and flexibility, helping with postural problems, and easing stress.
Good for: Beginners and those who like precision in their practice
“A dynamic, breath-led practice, ashtanga follows a set series of poses,” explains head of yoga at FLY LDN Fi Clark. Think the likes of forward folds, shoulder stands and plenty of sun salutations. “It’s suitable from beginners up and comprises six series that increase in difficulty. Each series should be mastered before embarking on the next,” explains Clark. The benefits? “Ashtanga is good for building strength, flexibility, agility and mental focus.”
Good for: Those who like the structure and discipline of a set routine
“This form of yoga bares similarities to Ashtanga but incorporates more of a creative element to the sequences, allowing more freedom to be taught with different transitions and modifications,” says Clark. Often classes will incorporate a beginning and ending section that follows a set of Ashtanga postures, with a more creative, flowing middle section where the teacher mixes it up with their pick of over 200 poses, she explains. Many vinyasa classes are fast moving, so expect to get your sweat on.
Good for: People who like variety – expect the unexpected
With A-list models singing its praises, this form of yoga is seriously on-trend. But it’s not all about posturing and posing – quite the opposite. “Jivamukti classes combine the physical, psychological and spiritual aspects of yoga,” says Wilkinson Priest. “Classes include vigorous asana [posture] practice, supported by Sanskrit chanting, music, readings and references to philosophical texts.”
Good for: Those who want to experience the full 360-degree yogic package – not just a workout
Hold that pose: learn the ancient practice of yoga to reap its many benefits Credit: Getty
Get ready to slow things right down. “Yin involves holding seated and lying down postures between two to five minutes,” explains Clark. Yep, that’s a long old time. But don’t be put off – it’s all about simple, passive poses (think the likes of basic forward folds and twists). The idea? “Yin roots itself in ancient practices linked to Chinese medicine. It’s believed we have thousands of meridians, or energy conduits, flowing through the body. If there are blockages, the body can’t function properly. Yin serves to clear those blockages,” explains Clark.
Good for: Rebalancing the body and releasing tightness
The secret’s in the name – hot yoga is performed in a very warm, humid studio. There are multiple different kinds, with probably the most well-known being Bikram. “Our triyoga hot yoga classes follow a set sequence of postures designed to increase circulation, flexibility and strength,” says Wilkinson Priest. “Far infrared panels heat the studio to 36-38 degrees, with 45 per cent humidity. This penetrates the body deeply and warms muscles, while the increased blood flow makes them more pliable and ‘stretchy’.” So you might just be able to get that bit closer to touching your toes – though as Wilkinson Priest notes, it’s important not to overdo things in hot classes and risk injury.
Good for: Yoga fans who want to take it to the next level
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