You’ve decided to finally nurture your spiritual health, and start doing yoga – but after a quick google you’re lost. Should you try Ashtanga or Iyengar? And what’s the difference between hot yoga and Vinyasa? The array of options can be enough to scare newbies off the mat for good. If you’re well-versed in the yoga world, it could be a bit confusing as to what all the different names mean.
So with all the choices out there, where do you start? Don’t lose your ujjayi breath (that’s yogi speak for calming inhales and exhales). Here are some of the more popular forms, that accommodate beginners, so you can decide for yourself which one is right for you:
6 Types of Yoga to get you started
It’s all about the basics in these slower moving classes that require you to hold each pose for a few breaths. In many studios, hatha classes are considered a gentler form of yoga. You can expect to go through a series of poses while utilizing breathing techniques as you move from one pose to another. Hatha yoga is designed to develop flexibility and improve balance. The end of a Hatha yoga class includes a Savasana—a short period of time where you lie down on the floor while letting your mind and body completely relax.
Get your flow on in this dynamic practice that links movement and breath together in a dance-like way. In most classes, you won’t linger long in each pose and the pace can be quick, so be prepared for your heart rate to rise. Teachers will often play music, matching the beats to the sequences of the poses. Expect lunging, bending and even doing some poses while upside down like shoulder stands and headstands.
Here you’ll get nit-picky about precision and detail, as well as your body’s alignment in each pose. Props, from yoga blocks and blankets to straps or a ropes wall, will become your new best friend, helping you to work within a range of motion that is safe and effective. Unlike in Vinyasa, each posture is held for a period of time. If you’re new to Iyengar, even if you’ve practiced other types of yoga, it’s good to start with a level one class to familiarize yourself with the technique.
If you’re looking for a challenging yet orderly approach to yoga, try Ashtanga. Consisting of six series of specifically sequenced yoga poses, you’ll flow and breathe through each pose to build internal heat. The catch is that you’ll perform the same poses in the exact same order in each class.
Prepare to sweat: Bikram consists of a specific series of 26 poses and two breathing exercises practiced in a room heated to approximately 105 degrees and 40 percent humidity. All Bikram studios practice the same 90-minute sequence so you’ll know exactly what to do once you unroll your mat. Remember, the vigorous practice combined with the heat can make the class feel strenuous. If you’re new to Bikram, take it easy: Rest when you need to and be sure to hydrate beforehand.
Kundalini brings you to the more spiritual side of yoga. It was developed as a way to energize your body and calm your mind through movements, breathing and chanting. You can expect half of a Kundalini yoga class to consist of exercises while the remaining half is a combination of breathing, meditation, and relaxation.