Have you ever looked at a yoga class schedule and wondered what all these different types of yoga are? I have spent the last months trying out as many different studios and teachers and styles of yoga as I can to put together this article in which I will explain to you the most popular styles, what they are like and which might be the one you like most!
Before getting started, I want to quickly mention that I am talking from a point of my very own experience here, and it can be that you might make a completely different experience when trying some of these styles, as there are so huge differences not only between the styles, but also between the teachers. However, I still hope this will give you an impression of what about to expect when going to a class you’ve never been to before :-) Let’s get started!
1. Hatha Yoga
This is definitely one of the most popular styles of yoga. With Hatha yoga it is quite difficult to explain what it is like exactly, because Hatha is more like an umbrella term for most yoga styles. However, you can say that it is one of the best types of yoga for beginners, because it is not as fast paced as other types. It most often starts with a short meditation and breathing exercise, and then different postures are practiced in a gentle and slow way, holding each of them for a little while before moving to the next. The purpose of Hatha Yoga is to prepare the body for stillness and meditation, so it’s supposed to clear the mind and the body through movement and breath, and it is very good for building strength and improving flexibility.
2. Vinyasa Yoga
This one is my personal favorite, it’s sometimes also called Flow Yoga or Vinyasa Flow and what Vinyasa means is “to place with purpose“. Just as the name says it is all very „flowy“ and not static like Hatha Yoga. It is focused around linking breath to movement, which makes it kind of like a moving meditation. Connecting your breath to your movement is amongst others what contributes so strongly to the relaxing effect of practicing yoga. Different to Hatha Yoga, you don’t stay in poses for very long. Therefore, Vinyasa Flow is also very energetic and can definitely be physically exhausting, because it can get quite fast and high paced. From my experience, it’s also much more creative than other forms of yoga, because new postures are being invented all the time that you maybe have never heard about before, and it is therefore in general a much more modern approach to yoga in general. It is definitely also the most athletic kind of yoga, and therefore especially suited for people who like it physically challenging and fast paced. focused on strength.
3. Power Yoga
If you’ve tried Vinyasa Yoga and still think it’s way too boring and not physically challenging at all, you HAVE to try Power Yoga. It can also have names like yoga sculpt, strong flow, fit flow, or anything like that, but in general these are all forms of Vinyasa Yoga, but much more high intense and even more focused on building strength. They often include normal ab exercices and sometimes also light weights. Often, they’re also heated, and then you really get your sweat going!
3. Hot Yoga
Heated or hot yoga has become super popular in the last years. It is most often a Hatha or Vinyasa class that is practiced in a room that is heated up between 27 to 40 degrees Celsius, and it has the benefits of making you feel more flexible, as well as improvements on mood, fitness, and stamina. But it can also have side effects like dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, or dehydration, and in general it is very very important to drink a lot of water when practicing in the heat.
4. Bikram Yoga
A very famous style of yoga that is also practiced in the heat is Bikram yoga. However, it is super different to Hot Yoga. In traditional Bikram classes it is often not allowed to drink anything during class, which in my opinion can become quite dangerous. Bikram Yoga is a set sequence of 26 postures that are practiced always in that same order, repeating each one twice. The postures are quite challenging and if you’re new to yoga, I wouldn’t recommend starting with Bikram Yoga first thing. I also have to say, me personally, I’m not a fan of Bikram Yoga at all, which is mainly due to its founder who is called Bikram. There is currently a Netflix documentary about him which is super negative and shows that he is not living the yogic mentality at all. He made millions by inventing that sequence, and in this documentary he’s accused of sexual assault and has left the U.S. in order to escape legal prosecution. But there are still a lot of people who love Bikram yoga, so if you’re into heat and into a very strict approach of practicing, and especially practicing the exact same thing over and over, then you should definitely give it a try.
5. Ashtanga Yoga
Similar to Bikram is Ashtanga Yoga, because it is also a set sequence of postures, however not practiced hot. They are physically extremely demanding, including a lot of advanced postures like headstand and deep streches, as well as a loooot of Chaturangas (low planks). Therefore, the practice is also not so much suited for yoga beginners. It has a very strict and traditional approach, and is practiced a lot in India where people come together, and everyone just practices it in their own pace.
6. Yin Yoga
Very different to that is Yin Yoga, or sometimes also called Restorative Yoga. It is veeeery slow paced and consists of only seated postures that are being held for a long time, usually from like 4 to 8 minutes. A lot of props are being used like blocks, blankets, and bolsters, to make all the postures as comfortable and endurable as possible as they are being hold for such a long time. It is really about getting deeply and fully into the poses and turning inwards, so it has a very meditative approach. Therefore, it is often used in programs that deal with addictions, eating disorders, anxiety and deep pain or trauma. So the benefits of Yin Yoga are that it is very calming and balancing to the mind and body, it lowers stress and triggers a deep relaxation. But next to that, it is also very suited for people who do any kind of extreme sport or intense workout, because it focuses on accessing the deeper tissues such as the connective tissue and fascia. This leads to greater flexibility and mobility in the body and especially in the joints.
7. Kundalini Yoga
Definitely one of the most spiritual types of yoga to me is Kundalini Yoga. I’ve been to one class and I actually really liked it, but more for like doing once in a while, because it’s just so crazy 😅. Its purpose is to awaken the kundalini energy that is in everyone of us and that sits in the base of the spine, and this awakening is done by a lot of breathing and chanting and moving in a funny way, so what we did in that class for example was to sit and close our eyes and then dance with our arms, so the teacher turned up the music super loud and we were just throwing our arms around, but it really was super nice somehow and the whole class was just a very unique experience. I would always do it again!
8. Aerial Yoga
And now coming to the very last type of yoga in this article, Aerial Yoga, which you can see me doing in the picture above 😃. It is practiced in hammocks that hang from the ceiling, and it is very acrobatic, but it has sooo many benefits because the hammock is such a great tool to get into shapes and it supports your weight, strengthens the muscles and helps for alignment of doing poses right. You also get to hang a lot upside down which is so good for blood circulation. It is definitely a good type of yoga for beginners, but still the first classes are very tough and you really need to learn and get familiar with the hammock. So it’s of course good if you already have some experience with yoga, but it really is not that necessary because in my opinion it requires strength and just practice with hanging in a hammock, so more acrobatic skills in general. But it definitely is soooo much fun and you should really really give it a try if you can!
There are soo many more styles of yoga out there than these 8, but I hope that this has given some first insight, and I hope you will try a lot of them yourself and tell me about your experience! 😍 Come visit my Podcast, you can find it on Spotify, Apple podcast, and all other podcast platforms!