If you're new to yoga, but trying to figure out which yoga class to take, the options may feel overwhelming. There are SO many varieties and styles, each with their own distinct differences. Beginnings often feel a bit intimidated by the style choices presented when choosing a class. Having an overview of the most common forms of yoga is an excellent way to get an idea of the type of yoga that suits you.
Ashtanga (also known as Power Yoga) is the most common type of yoga practiced. It typically involves a series of poses that are repeated in a series during the class. The poses change quickly and the forms flow into one another, making it a great combination of cardio, muscle building and stretching exercise. It can be physically demanding as there is no real rest between forms. Ashtanga yoga is mostly a physical class although breathing and meditation exercise are often incorporated towards the end.
Iyengar yoga primarily deals with body alignment. These classes incorporate blocks, straps or yoga blankets to help align a body for a particular pose. These poses are held much longer than in the Ashtanga style. Breathing and meditation are a larger part of the classes. This style of yoga is hugely popular all over the world and its instructors have one of the highest levels of education.
Bikram yoga is a very specific type of yoga developed by Bikram Choudhury. The classes are held in heated classrooms and the exact same sequence of positions is performed each time. Funny enough, the moved sequences are even "trademarked" and must adhere to the same sequence each and every time to be called a Bikram Class. The heat makes the students work up a sweat and adds a whole new element to the class.
Hot yoga is very similar to Bikram yoga, in that its a series of positions performed in a heated classroom. The main difference, the series of positions are not the same series created by Bikram, so they just refer to themselves as Hot Yoga classes.
Kali Ray TriYoga
Kali Ray Triyoga incorporates both the flowing forms of Ashtanga yoga and the meditative practices of other styles. This style combines posture, focus and breath control to create a program that is organized by level. Kali Ray Triyoga allows students to work at the level he or she chooses. These poses range from extremely challenging or modified for those with physical difficulties. Its popular with both elderly students and the very young due to its flexible styling.
Viniyoga allows a yogi or yoga instructor to work with one student at a time. The individualized attention requires the instructor to create a personalized program for each student. This type of class is supposed to benefit the student through its tailored, individualized program. Private classes are often more expensive than group classes, so Viniyoga is not as widely practiced as some of the other styles.
Kripalu yoga is similar to Viniyoga in that it is tailored to individual students. This style allows the student to work according to her own body's limits. Much of the emphasis is on body alignment, proper breath and then coordinating the breathing with the movements. The classes usually have several students, but each student moves at an individual pace. The courses are divided into stages. The first stage allows the student time to learn the pose and body alignment. The second stage emphasizes holding each pose for an extended period of time.
Which one's right for you?
Although the styles vary, they are all still similar. No matter which yoga class you choose, you are going to feel the benefits quickly. If you find your self not really feeling the first course you take, try another type to see if maybe its just that particular style you aren't meshing with.