Yoga has become a household term these days, with ever increasing numbers of schools popping up across the country. Westerners are drawn to this ancient practice for its many physical and mental benefits, ranging from increased strength and flexibility to relaxation and improved quality of sleep.
With so many styles out there it can be daunting for those looking to pick a class. Asking ‘which type is the best for me?’ will help you make a decision.
Hatha, coming from the Sanskrit words for sun and moon, is probably the most common form of yoga taught in the west. Not actually a distinct style, it focuses mostly on holding positions (asanas) for extended periods of time while concentrating on breathing.
Hatha yoga classes tend to be led at a slower pace than other styles, which gives plenty of opportunity for teachers to offer adjustments. Classes also commonly close with a meditation.
- Hatha is ideal for complete beginners.
Iyengar yoga has its roots in Hatha yoga, and was created by teacher B.K.S. Iyengar.
It is a very popular style with students looking to treat injuries and generally improve their overall health.
This style stresses correct alignment, but also supports students at all stages of their journey through use of props to assist in challenging poses.
Using straps, blocks and bolsters, positions are held for extended periods of time, which helps build strength and stamina.
- Treat for older or injured practitioners.
Ashtanga yoga is considered by some to be a more challenging form of yoga than Hatha or Iyengar.
Practitioners work through a set series of poses interspersed with vinyasas which are fast paced moving sequences, with the aim of generating internal heat.
Breath also plays a key role in this style, helping yogis move deeper into twists and folds which are excellent for encouraging the elimination of toxins.
- Ideal for improvers who would like something new.