Beginners Guide To Yoga Styles

Confused by Yoga styles and jargon? We have a beginners guide to set you on the right mat.

Whether you want to relax, tone, lose weight or connect to your spiritual side, there is a yoga style to suit everyone.

First let’s expel the myths:

Yoga is full of incense swirling lentil munchers. I happen to love the aforementioned but you are not likely to walk into wafts of Nag Champa at class. Styles are varied and yoga at a health centre or gym attracts a diverse group of health and wellness hunters.

Yoga is slow and boring. Some styles of yoga are anything but! Choose according to your preferred pace and be prepared to sweat with the high intensity styles.

You have to be bendy to join in. Beginners rarely start a yoga class with the flexibility of a Russian gymnast. A good teacher will offer you variations of pose according to your ability.

You have to be skinny and (designer) clad. The best yoga classes I have attended were in cold church rooms with tracksuit clad pensioners with the flexibility of toddlers. Look around and choose a class that suits you. Yogi come in all shapes, sizes and outfits!

Ready to explore more? Here are some of the more common yoga styles:

Lyengar – Sometimes referred to as ‘furniture yoga’, Lyengar focuses on correct alignment of the body. Its founder B.K.S Lyengar introduced yoga to the west in the 1930’s. It is a yoga practise that strengthens the muscles and joints through proper alignment using blocks and straps.

Good for: All ages and abilities. Those with back and joint problems.

Ashtanga – A sweat inducing style of yoga. A sequence of moves including Sun Salutations, inversions and back bends. Each pose is held for 5 breaths before moving on to the next.

Good for: Strength and endurance, experienced yoga practitioners.

Bikram – The ‘hot yoga’ style formed in the 1970’s by Bikram Choudhury. Think yoga in a sauna, performed in 105 degrees Fahrenheit with 40 degrees humidity. The environment helps loosen the muscles and improves the stretch through 26 yoga sequences.

Good for: Releasing toxins and flexibility.

Restorative – A relaxing yoga that helps heal body, mind and soul. Simple poses that are held for up to 20 minutes at a time.

Good for: Stressed out folk and those recovering from an injury.

Hatha – A yoga practise that combines poses (asanas) with breathe work (pranayamas)

Good for: Beginners, meditators and those looking for a gentle yoga.

Jivamukti – Created by David Life and Sharron Gannon, Jivamukti is a vinsaya style yoga including postures, chanting and scripture reading

Good for: Meditation, philosophers and self-improvement seekers.

Kundalini – A combination of mantra, movement and breathing technique awakens the Kundalini energy at the base of the spine.

Good for: Spirituality and connection to self.

Kripalu – Yoga that talks openly about self-discovery. It teaches the power to know and accept the body. Awareness is key to the postures reflecting body with mind.

Good for: Awareness, awakening and self-discovery.

Sivananda – A five point system that is based on correct breathing, relaxation, diet, exercise and positive thinking. Sivananda yoga includes chanting and meditation to improve wellness.

Good for: Spirituality, wellness and a yogic based life.

Vinyasa – A fast paced yoga that combines continuous movement through the postures. Sun salutation, lunges, bends and stretching asanas.

Good for: strength, balance, tone and weight loss.

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