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Types of Yoga Classes to Try
By now, everyone has heard of the amazing benefits of Yoga and its power to help your overall wellness in mind, body and spirit. If you’ve been considering taking a yoga class in the new year, you’ll probably find many different class titles. This could be confusing for a first-timer if they don’t know that there are different types of yoga and what each one is like. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most common or popular yoga classes to help demystify it all.
Popularized in the West by K. Pattabhi Jois in the 70’s, Ashtanga yoga is a based on ancient yoga teachings and involves a specific sequence of poses, similar to Vinyasa. Each style links each movement to a breath. In Ashtanga, you always perform the same poses in the same sequence order. It will make you sweat and is a physically demanding, so be sure to come prepared with water and a towel. For this and an all Yoga styles, it’s important to show up as comfortably as possible - flexible yoga leggings and a well-fitting sports bra are best!
Hatha yoga is what yogis call any type of yoga that teaches physical postures. Almost every type of yoga class taught in the West is considered Hatha yoga. If you come across a class labeled as Hatha, it normally means that you’ll get a soft introduction to the most basic yoga postures. A Hatha yoga class probably won’t make you break a sweat, but it should help you feel more flexible, looser and more relaxed.
Started by Bikram Choudhury about 30 years ago, this type of yoga is held in heated rooms and is geared at making you sweat as you are guided through a series of 26 poses. A Bikram class always follows the same sequence, like Ashtanga Yoga does, although the sequences are different in Bikram than they are in Ashtanga.
For context and backstory, Bikram is somewhat controversial; Choudhury trademarked his sequence and has sued studios who call themselves Bikram, but don't teach the poses exactly the way he says they should. It is a very popular class type, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find. Since you’ll be sweating a ton, make sure you bring a water bottle and a towel!
B.K.S. Iyengar is who developed and popularized Iyengar yoga. This style is very detail-oriented and depends on your form being just right. It focuses on proper alignment so you’ll be using props and tools to help you achieve this. Things like straps, bolsters, blankets, blocks and chairs. This style of yoga is not focused on cardio and won’t get your heart rate up, but it is a practice that will test your discipline when it comes to staying put in one place. The Iyengar instructor is required to take full training before they can teach, so you’ll be learning from highly knowledgeable instructors. This type of yoga may help people with injuries or chronic conditions; this type of yoga helps aid the recovery process by soothing sore, tight muscles.
Buti is a music-driven yoga stye that incorporates dance-like movement, dynamic yoga asana, deep-core conditioning and cardio-dance bursts. It was created by Bizzie Gold, meant to include calorie-burning cardio, muscle-sculpting and dynamic yoga practice all in one. If you are a fan of dance classes to stay fit, this might be a great yoga style for you. This is a great class to wear fun, vibrant colors to and yoga apparel that makes you feel joyful, sexy, and powerful.
Vinyasa (pronounced "vin-yah-sah") is a Sanskrit word for a phrase that translates, roughly, to "to place in a special way," referring—in hatha yoga—to a sequence of poses. Vinyasa yoga is known for its fluid, movement-intensive practices. The classes are formatted to have students transition smoothly from post to pose. This is meant to help you link your breath to your movement. Instructors normally play music to help keep things fun. The intensity level is close to Ashtanga’s intensity, but every Vinyasa class is different. This is good for students who like to change things up and not get stuck to a routine.
Anusara Yoga is relatively new, having been created by an American yogi named John Friend in 1997. This yoga style is based on the belief that we all have intrinsic goodness within us - Anusara aims at helping students connect with that inner goodness and let it out through the practice of it. This style can be rigorous for the body and mind and is based on Friend’s Principles of Alignment.