Looking at the timetable of a yoga studio can be quite intimidating for a new student. There are so many styles to choose from, Hatha, Iyengar, Ashtanga, Jivamukti, Restorative, Vinyasa Flow, Yin… I could go on!
So let’s take a look at some of these to help you make a decision about which style suits your needs best. Of course it’s great to try out as many styles and teachers as you want, to find your fit.
Hatha – often seen as a gentle, slower practice but hatha is actually the umbrella name for a physical yoga practice. Realistically these classes could be anything but most often, on studio timetables, there will be a more classical approach incorporating basic pranayama (breath control) and asana (postures)
Iyengar – Be prepared for lots of props. Precise alignment is the aim and dependent upon your body type, this could make it incredibly difficult. This practice is suitable for beginners to advanced and all fitness levels.
Ashtanga – The class is a set sequence which you learn in one of two ways. The majority of led classes will be the primary maybe sometimes a secondary series, but there are actually 6! Each series leads on to the next becoming progressively more difficult, so mastery of one is essential before moving to the next. Breath and Movement are in unison throughout the sequence, it’s a moving meditation, with all postures linked together by vinyasa. Mysore – A way of teaching in the traditional way, where the teacher works individually to teach the student the sequence, one asana at a time. Each person is doing their own practice within the class and will go up to where they are in the sequence and stop. Once you master a pose your teacher will give you the next.
Jivamukti – A challenging practice both physically and mentally. There is a lot of focus on traditional spirituality and philosophy which might seem a bit alien at first. Meditation will also be emphasised often with use of a mantra e.g. Let-go
Restorative – As the name suggests this practice is about nurturing the body in a calm and gentle way. The mind, body and breath are centred and balanced through gentle movement and relaxed postures. Many props can be used to assist and create comfort in the body.
Vinyasa Flow – stemming from Ashtanga, this is a creative, flowing class which can be of varying intensity (from restorative to power!) The teacher sequences each class, so experiences with one teacher may be completely different to another. There might be a theme or the class might aim towards an apex pose or neither – it really does come down to the teacher’s personality.
Yin – A passive practice, not to be confused with restorative. Connective tissues are worked on, lengthening as you relax into each posture for 3-5minutes. It is a relaxed, quiet class which is lovely and calming. It works on body and mind as you surrender to the posture whilst requiring a lot of effort to clear the mind of its chatter and stay in the moment.
I hope this has shed some light as a useful starting point for what to expect in different classes… You could of course just rock up and try it!