What Yoga Style Is Best For Me? Top 10 Yoga Styles.

Do you know what yoga style you’re best suited for?

 

Yoga, an ancient practice that originated in India, has evolved over the years, into a multitude of styles, each catering to various needs and objectives, depending on the society around them.  Yoga has evolved with the environment that it’s in, and with emerging scientific and medical research.  Whether you’re seeking physical, mental or spiritual benefits, there’s a yoga style that will suit you.

Although the practice of yoga, as meditation and pranayama (breathing exercises), is thought to be around 5000 years old, the asanas (yoga poses) that we see in modern yoga classes today, were only systematized in the early 1900’s.  Certain important figures (Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, Swami Sivananda Saraswati, Sri Swami Satchidananda), are responsible for the lineages, philsophies, or schools of thought, that today’s yoga styles stem from.

However there can be huge variations within one particular yoga style depending on the teacher, and the group of students.  The instructor’s way of teaching, especially in classes that do not have a set sequence, can be extremely different from another’s.  So don’t rule out a yoga style because you didn’t resonate with the teacher, and recognise that a yoga style that you don’t’ enjoy at the moment, may suit you at some point in the future.

Read the descriptions below to see which yoga style you resonate with most at the moment, to help you pick the right yoga class for.

Hatha Yoga Style: Balancing Body and Mind

Hatha yoga is a foundational style that focuses on physical postures (asanas) and breath control (pranayama). It suits beginners and those seeking a well-rounded practice. Hatha is perfect for individuals who want to build strength, improve flexibility, and establish a mind-body connection. Its slower paced nature allows practitioners to understand and perfect the basics of yoga.  Classes can be any length of time, (usually 75 – 90 mins), sequences can vary greatly depending on the teacher and students, and generally are not dynamic or fast paced.

Vinyasa Flow Yoga style: Dynamic and Energizing

Vinyasa, meaning “breath-synchronized movement,” is a more dynamic and fluid style. It’s suitable for those who enjoy a more dynamic, faster-paced practice, linking breath with movement. Vinyasa is ideal for individuals looking to increase cardiovascular fitness, enhance flexibility, and experience a sense of flow or choreography in classes. This style is often chosen by those seeking both physical and mental invigoration, with less of a focus on spirituality or meditation.  Classes can be any length of time but usually 60 – 75 mins.

Ashtanga Yoga style: Structured and Disciplined

Ashtanga is a rigorous and structured yoga style that follows a specific sequence of poses. It is suitable for individuals who enjoy a disciplined approach and appreciate routine. Ashtanga is great for those seeking a physically demanding practice that builds strength, stamina, and discipline over time.  The sequence can be challenging and may not suit your body each day, but there are no surprises as you get used to the set sequence.  Classes are either ‘led’ where the teacher stands at the front and leads the class, or are done ‘mysore style’ where those who are familiar with the sequence, lay their mat down and get on with poses without instruction from the teacher.  Classes are usually 75 – 90 mins with little time spent on breathing exercises or meditation.

Kundalini Yoga style: Awakening the Inner Energy

Popularized in the late 1960’s, Kundalini yoga focuses on awakening the dormant spiritual energy within the practitioner. It involves dynamic movements, breathing exercises, cleansing exercises, and often chanting. Kundalini is ideal for those seeking spiritual growth, heightened awareness, and a deeper connection with their inner self. It’s a powerful practice that can be transformative for individuals looking beyond the physical aspects of yoga.  Classes tend to be around 75 minutes, and may involve other modalities like sound or crystal healing.

Bikram Yoga and Hot Yoga style: Heat and Intensity

Bikram yoga, is the original hot yoga, and is performed in a heated room with a specific sequence of 26 postures. It’s suitable for individuals who enjoy sweating and desire a detoxifying experience. Bikram is often chosen by those looking to improve flexibility, lose weight, and enhance endurance. However, it may not be suitable for everyone, especially those sensitive to heat or wanting variety in the sequence of poses.  For variation, hot yoga classes offer the same benefits of Bikram but are less structured.  Bikram classes last 90 mins whereas Hot Yoga classes usually last 60 – 75 mins.

Sivananda Yoga style: Five principles

Sivananda Yoga is a traditional and holistic style of yoga based on the teachings of Swami Sivananda.  This style emphasizes five key principles: proper exercise (asanas), proper breathing (pranayama), proper relaxation (savasana), proper diet (vegetarian), and positive thinking and meditation (vedanta and dhyana). The practice typically includes a series of 12 basic asanas, a set sequence of poses, breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, and sometimes spiritual teachings. Sivananda Yoga is best suited for individuals seeking a comprehensive and balanced approach to yoga that goes beyond physical exercise to incorporate a broader lifestyle philosophy. It is ideal for those interested in the spiritual and meditative aspects of yoga, as well as beginners who appreciate its structured and gentle progression.  Classes are typically 90 mins.

Restorative Yoga style: Relaxation and Healing

Restorative yoga is a gentle practice with a therapeutic element, that involves supported poses often held for longer periods. It is ideal for individuals seeking relaxation, stress reduction, and healing. Restorative yoga is often recommended for those recovering from injuries, dealing with chronic pain, or simply looking to unwind and recharge.  Classes can take on many forms depending on the teacher and the therapeutic objective of the class, and can last 45 – 75 mins.

Iyengar Yoga style: Precision and Alignment

Iyengar yoga places a strong emphasis on precision and alignment in each pose. It is suitable for individuals who appreciate detailed instruction and the use of various props to achieve proper alignment and to modify poses accordingly. Iyengar is great for those with specific physical conditions or injuries, as the practice can be adapted to accommodate various needs.  Classes tend to be quite disciplined, and poses can be held for extended periods of time and be quite intensive.  Classes can take on any duration but usually 75 – 90  mins.

Yin Yoga style: Deep Stretch and Relaxation

Founded in the 1970’s, Yin yoga is a slow-paced practice that focuses on holding passive poses for an extended duration, typically three to five minutes or even longer. It targets the connective tissues, such as ligaments, tendons, and fascia, promoting flexibility and mobility.  Instead of an all-rounded class, they may focus mainly on one part of the body.  Yin yoga also incorporates elements of relaxation, making it suitable for individuals seeking stress relief, and introspection during the stillness. It’s particularly beneficial for those with tight muscles or joint stiffness, as it encourages surrender and release.  Classes can take on any duration (usually 60 – 90 mins), and use a number of props to make long periods in a pose more comfortable.

Integral Yoga style: Holistic Approach to Well-being

Integral yoga, founded by Sri Swami Satchidananda, emphasizes a holistic approach to well-being, integrating various aspects of yoga, including physical postures, breathing techniques, meditation, selfless service (karma yoga), and self-study (jnana yoga). It aims to harmonize the body, mind, and spirit, promoting inner peace, balance, and spiritual growth. Integral yoga is suitable for individuals seeking a comprehensive and balanced practice that addresses all aspects of their being and spirituality. It fosters self-awareness, compassion, and a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of life.  Classes tend to be slower paced and can take on any duration but typically 75 – 90 mins.

Indiv Yoga has trained over 400 teachers worldwide in vinyasa, hatha and restorative yoga, to be able to create and tailor classes to suit their students.  With different pranayama and meditation techniques, Indiv Yoga teachers can bring the benefits of yoga to all types of individuals.  If you’re interested in certifying as a professional and confident Indiv Yoga teacher learn about our Yoga Alliance 200 hr Yoga Teacher Training Course.

 

 

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Charlie Stewart-Brown

Charlie began practicing yoga over 27 years ago as a recommendation for her severe anxiety, and has been teaching for over 15 years to people of all ages and abilities. With over 1300 hrs of training and 22,500 hrs of teaching, she is also the lead trainer on the Indiv Yoga 200 hrs YTT & RCYT Kids Yoga Teacher Training Courses, having certified over 400 students worldwide.  She is the voice of the ‘Yoga and Mindfulness Program’ on British Airways long-haul flights, has spoken at many seminars and corporate workshops, and runs exclusive yoga and meditation retreats during the year.

Originally from London and having worked in New York and Lisbon after her Psychology degree, she has since settled  in Switzerland with her husband, and dedicated her life to expanding her knowledge of the science of yoga, mindful meditation and better physical and mental health.

Over the years Charlie has trained with some of the most renowned yoga teachers around the world (David Swenson, Shiva Rea, Anne-Marie Newland, Leslie Kaminoff, Sadie Nardini, Sonia Sumar etc) certifying in Hatha, Sivanada, Ashtanga, Childrens and Family Yoga, Yoga for the Special Child, & Inner Engineering with Sadhguru. She has become highly respected for her successful work in yoga therapy, especially for Autism, ADHD and other behavioural and developmental syndromes. She has also talked at some of the biggest corporations in Switzerland and the annual SGIS (Swiss Group of International Schools) Conference on implementing Mindfulness in the work place and the education system.

Charlie holds the highest yoga qualifications as an ERYT500 (Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher), RCYT (Registered Children´s Yoga Teacher), RPYT (Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher) and YCEP (Yoga Continued Education Provider) with the Yoga Alliance, and has developed Indiv Yoga™ to bring a more physiological, therapeutic and individual approach to yoga. Indiv Yoga™ Switzerland is a RYS (registered yoga school) and RCYS (registered children’s yoga school) providing Yoga Alliance teacher training certifications of the highest professional standards.

The focus of Indiv Yoga™ is to provide the benefits of yoga to every type of individual, using its teachings to achieve physical and mental balance, and diminish the anxieties of modern life for adults and children.

Read her online testimonials and qualifications for a feel of her knowledgeable and friendly professionalism.

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