Here in London we have the privilege of having access to SO MANY different styles of yoga classes – this choice has its downside however! With such a large contrast between the styles, and a general lack of knowledge about how much they differ, some unfortunate souls try one particular class and immediately decide that ‘yoga isn’t for them’! Claiming that ‘I don’t like yoga’ after just one class is like saying ‘I don’t like fruit’ after only trying a banana.
I don’t blame anyone for not understanding which styles of yoga would be best suited for them. I also don’t blame anyone for feeling too overwhelmed by the choices to even try a class! I’m not trying to pretend that I know all there is about every different style, but I worked in a yoga studio and so I am lucky enough to have tried lots of them. This guide is based purely from my own experience and thus, isn’t an exhaustive list of the styles on offer. I’ll be describing what to expect in the asana (posture) classes of each style in this post. Saying that however, yoga is so much deeper than just just a series of movement – that is only one tiny little aspect of it. I recommend everyone to research the philosophy of yoga so as to gain a deeper understanding of the beautiful spiritual practice.
So here we are, I hope my description of these classes will give you some clarity and help you to gain a better understanding of which yoga styles would be most suited to you. It’s also worth noting that depending on the level specified of the individual class and the teacher, they will obviously vary.
Dynamic Styles Of Yoga:
- Vinyasa Flow: As the name suggests, this class is flowy. One of my personal favourite styles – in vinyasa classes I feel that my body moves in the ways that it was made to move. Classes often feel creative and allow me to move in new ways.
- Ashtanga: The Sanskrit word for Eight Limbs (I recommend to research the 8 limbs of yoga for a deeper understanding if you’re interested), ashtanga is a set series of postures. Depending on the teacher, class length and level, some postures in the sequence may be missed out or maybe you’ll be taught a more advanced series. This is a strong practice and I always find myself sweating after the class. Personally, I love the way that I have gotten to know the sequence after many classes, so rather than focusing so much on the teacher and what he/she is saying, I can focus on my own body, my breathing and my drishti (eye gaze).
- Mysore Style: Mysore is a very tradition form of ashtanga yoga whereby students will turn up anytime within the period that the class is taking place. The students will each be taught on a one on one basis with the teacher but in the room with other students who will all be doing their own practice. Don’t worry, you’re not expected to memorise the sequence at once! You will often be given a print out of the sequence so that you can learn it at your own pace.
- Iyengar: This class is all about precision. Expect to spend time getting into the postures correctly and many adjustments from the teacher. Although I personally find it hard to get into the rhythm of this class (as there is often stopping and starting to observe each posture correctly) I do enjoy it to supplement other practices as it reminds me of the correct alignment of each asana. And my body always feels AMAZING after an Iyengar class!
- Kundalini: In a kundalini class you will be taught a mixture of spiritual and physical practices, including dynamic breathing techniques and the chanting of mantras. This class could be seen as a little crazy and out there for a lot of people who are just beginning their spiritual and yogic exploration. However, if you can get past the self consciousness and the fear of looking silly, you’ll realise that this class is full of people who are just like you. I think you’ll discover that the benefits are immense and can leave you feeling incredibly uplifted if you decide to give it a go!
Relaxation Styles Of Yoga:
- Restorative: I cannot express enough how wonderful restorative classes are! I always leave the room feeling like I’ve slept for 10 days. You’ll only be relaxing into a handful of poses in this class which usually require lots of props – blankets, bolsters, bricks etc – to fully support your body. This allows you to fully relax and rest. The beauty of this class is that it is suitable for absolutely anyone. I believe that stopping and allowing ourselves this precious time to relax in this way is important for your physical and mental health.
- Nidra: Or ‘sleep yoga’ is an incredible practice whereby the practitioner lies in savasana (corpse pose) and is guided through a meditation. This extremely gentle yoga practice is suitable for absolutely anyone and is deeply restful.
- Yin: Yin is slightly more intense than the previous 2 relaxation classes as you are guided through poses that allow you to stretch and target connective tissues and fascia throughout the body. Rather than actively stretching your muscles however, yin is very passive and you will be relaxing into the asanas for a long period of time.
I hope this was helpful to some of you and that your yoga journey is beautiful. We would LOVE to hear about your yoga experiences and which classes we’re your favourite in the comments below!
Big love – Ellie xo
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