Blessings and Welcome to another yoga post dedicated to encourage you to look after yourself and to find more moments of calm in your busy day.
The other day I received a phone call from Mary, a potential yoga student.
Mary was stressed, overworked and exhausted. Life was getting her down. A work colleague advised Mary to try yoga as a way to find relief from her worries and to boost her energy.
As I listened to Mary recall her daily struggle -from waking up feeling tired , anxious and clock-watching about getting her children ready for school time; they were old enough to get themselves ready and dressed for school, but Mary liked to be around to make sure they left home on time to go to school; this left her feeling rushed and anxious on days when she had to go into work early. Mary tried to leave work by 5.00pm so she could pick her children up from their AfterSchool Club. Her work day felt rushed and Mary often felt demoralised at the amount of work she had to do, often without support and proper resources from her manager.
I remembered how anxious I used to feel working as a Probation Officer and juggling heavy workloads with a young family. I was always tired and fed-up of playing catch-up at home and at work.
Looking For A Yoga Class Added To Mary’s Stress!
I was glad Mary was making effort to tackle her stress. However, what came next was a shock. Mary said “looking for a yoga class” was adding to her stress!
There are so many different styles and types of yoga advertised, that my potential student didn’t know where to start. She was not sure what style of yoga would suit her lifestyle and support her desire to relax, feel more in control and on top of things.
There are many different styles of yoga on offer. Classes range from very dynamic physically challenging styles to gentle flowing restorative practices. Mary did not know where to start and what style to choose!
If this sounds like you then I hope the following information will give you a brief overview of the different styles of yoga and the similarities and differences between them.
Here Are 5 Popular Styles Of Yoga
Some Styles Are Gentle Some Styles Are More Dynamic
Depending on your particular need, the more popular styles are:
1. Hatha Yoga:
Hatha yoga is the generic term used to describe the different types of yoga and is the most popular type practiced in the west. The word “Hatha” is a Sanskrit word, made up of “Ha” – sun and “that” – moon. So, Hatha yoga literally means sun and moon joining together as one. The sun and moon represents the masculine/active (sun) and feminine/receptive (moon/lunar) principles as the opposing polarities of life. The idea is to find the balance between the two opposing qualities which suits your particular needs. Between a very physically challenging practice and a very gentle style. When these are in balance, you have perfect health, energy and vitality. This forms the core of what most yoga students seek.
2. Sivananda Hatha Yoga:
This style of yoga focus on 12 basic classical postures, relaxation and breathing exercises also form a key part of a class. Most Sivananda classes will include an element of chanting and spiritual discourse. Founded by Swamiji Sivananda, this form of yoga is considered a fairly gentle to moderate pace and good introduction into yoga.
3. Iyengar Yoga:
BKS Iyengar is the famous yoga teacher associated with this style of yoga. In Iyengar yoga, great emphasis is placed on alignment and uses of props to support the body achieve the poses. Again, Iyengar yoga is considered a good introduction to yoga, especially with its strong emphasis on posture alignment and anatomy.
4. Astanga Yoga:
Considered a more strenuous form of yoga and definitely more physically challenging than Sivananda or Iyengar, Astanga yoga is very good for those who like a physical dynamic practice. You are taught a sequence and over time encouraged to self practice. It is best suited to students who are reasonable fit and in good health and in my view, looking for a “work out”. Pattabhi Jois is the founder of this style of yoga.
5. Bikram Yoga:
Some people refer to Bikram Yoga as “Hot Yoga” as it is taught in rooms which are heated to at least 38 degree Celsius. The room is as hot as a sauna. As a beginner, it is essential you are in reasonable health and feel comfortable in learning yoga in a hot environment. You will sweat a lot. Founded by Bikram Choudury, this system of yoga consists of you learning 26 basic postures.
What Are The Similarities Between These 5 Styles?
Regardless of the “style” of yoga you chose, all yoga class or lesson consists of a mixture of the following four main areas: When you make your general enquiries ask the reception staff how much emphasis does each class pay to the four different aspects of yoga. You may be looking for a more meditative practice or one that is strictly physically challenging.
1. Stretching Exercises/Poses known as asanas. Depending on the style of yoga, the yoga poses can be very gentle or very challenging.
2. Breathing Practices known as pranayama designed to cleanse the body and calm the nervous system and emotions. Some schools of yoga place a lot of emphasis on learning breathing exercises. So if that interests you, chose a class where that is taught.
3. Guided Relaxation to release body tension and promote a sense of well-being. Again, check with your teacher how much emphasis is placed on that in her class.
4. Meditation and Chanting -Meditation helps to calm and focus your mind and encourage you to experience a sense of inner peace. If you are interested in meditation, again check with your teacher how that is structured into the class and what type of meditation is taught. Some schools of yoga do not include chanting whereas others do.
Now that you have a basic understanding of the different types of yoga, I hope you feel more confident in your search for a suitable yoga class. Remember what suits your friend may not suit you, so I encourage you to have an open mind and try out different classes and styles of yoga.
And if you want to find out more about the history of yoga and what other things you need to be aware of before you start yoga, check out my free Yoga For Beginner ebook “All the Facts and Advice You Need To Choose Your First Yoga Class” FREE when you subscribe to my weekly YogaInspiresYou enewsletter at the top of this page.
I’d love to hear from you. Maybe you have recently started yoga and have some tips to pass on to other yoga beginners. Share your thoughts in the comments box below.
Take care and have a wonderful day
Image with thanks-lululemelon
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