Which Yoga is For You?

Sep 26, 2017 | Yoga for Beginners, Yoga Tips

Last week I asked what your first yoga experience was like and shared tips to help those who may be apprehensive about starting a yoga practice or possibly thinking yoga isn’t for them.

I mentioned that yoga is a very personal practice, there are so many styles out there ranging from athletic to more passive, restorative. It’s worth taking time to experiment to see what feels good for you and your body.

According to some people there are more than 280 different styles! Some are steeped in or stem from ancient history and tradition while others could be the invention of a modern teacher.

So here are some common terms used to describe 7 yoga styles to help you anticipate what you might expect from the class.


Based on ancient yoga teachings, Ashtanga was brought to the West by K. Pattabhi Jois in the 1970s. It’s an athletic style of yoga that follows a specific sequence of postures synchronising breath and movement. It is the inspiration for all vinyasa-style classes. Traditionally, Ashtanga is taught ‘Mysore’ style, meaning you learn a series of postures at your own pace in a group setting with a teacher guiding you when necessary. There are also teacher-led classes. Since one pose flows into another, it becomes like meditation in motion, as the practitioner learns to focus the mind and simply observe without judgement.

Hatha Yoga

Hatha is often used as a very broad term to cover any of the physical practices of yoga. Classes are usually gentle, slower-paced, alignment focused with no flow between poses. You may practise seated meditation at the end. It can be a good introduction to the most basic yoga postures but don’t mistake gentle for easy. My first yoga practice was Hatha. I felt so good afterwards, more relaxed, flexible and stronger over time and I enjoyed most of the postures but in my particular class, there was always one ‘peak pose’ that would challenge my mind and body every single time! Mostly my mind, I discovered!

Hot Yoga

The room is heated so expect to sweat a lot. The heat warms the body from the outside just as yoga postures (asanas) warm the body from the inside. The idea is that you may go deeper into a pose than you normally would and classes are physically challenging especially with the heat. The practice is designed to work your body, requiring full concentration, releasing toxins and stress. The idea is to create a fit body and mind to unify the physical self with the spiritual self.

Iyengar Yoga

One of the most traditional styles of yoga developed by B.K.S. Iyengar. It is very precise with a very strong emphasis placed on correct alignment. Movement is slow, only a few poses are practiced per class as time is taken to explore subtle actions within the body to achieve proper alignment. The props can help modify the poses to suit any body type. Beginners work on understanding basic alignment and postures while gaining strength and flexibility, then as you progress you discover more subtlety in the asanas and the state of mind.

Restorative Yoga

Focus is on deep rest and relaxation. It is a completely passive practice and comfort is key so many props are used (bolsters, blankets, straps, blocks) enabling the body to experience the benefits of the pose without any physical effort. You may only practice 4-6 postures so time is taken to really slow the body and mind down and experience true rest. A good restorative class can be more refreshing than a nap.

Vinyasa Yoga

Many vinyasa classes are based on the Ashtanga approach as poses flow from one to the other sychronised by the breath. While Ashtanga has a set sequence of poses, Vinyasa classes are more creative in style depending on the teacher. Music is often played and you’ll find that no two vinyasa classes are the same. Vinyasa could incorporate Vinyasa Flow/Gentle Vinyasa Flow/Power Yoga/Flow Yoga.

Yin Yoga

Focusing on maintaining mobility in the deep connective tissue (fascia and ligaments) yin yoga is a physically passive practice, poses are held for a long time up to 5 mins or more. Most poses focus on the lower back and hips as the dense connective tissue needs more care and attention in these parts of the body. Yin poses are thought to free energetic blockages and help the move the prana (life force) within the body.

It is worth experimenting different styles so you can find one that suits your body, physical condition and resonates with you. Regular practitioners often switch it up, perhaps incorporating a restorative or yin yoga in their more physical weekly routine.

Which styles have you tried or would like to try?

For a taste of vinyasa come and join these yoga classes. Ideal before you go to work, when the kids are at school or to ease yourself into the weekend.

Classes are small and you’ll receive plenty of individual attention. Book here or email me directly.

Karen x


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Karen Kurzmeyer
Private/group/corporate yoga teacher. Helping busy professionals prioritise health & well-being through yoga.

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