Yoga wise, we live in a world of great many possibilities. The modern yogi can choose from a morning, midday,evening or even night classes. You can practice online, in a studio, with a group of friends, or with a partner. You can pick from a myriad of styles and teachers all of which seem equally appealing and interesting. So how does a beginner choose the right class, style, and teacher?
There is only one way to find out what best suits your needs and that is through practice. Until you gain some yogic experience we have listed 6 of the most famous yoga styles practiced in the modern world. We hope that the information here will help you make a conscious decision.
All physical asana practices fall under the umbrella of Hatha yoga. However, yoga comes in many styles and I'll give you a brief descriptions of some of them here. Commonly, Hatha yoga, depending how its taught is considered a more gentle form of practice and is a great place to start. After all, had Hatha not been created the other 5 forms included in this piece may not have even seen the light of day, pun intended as Hatha means the Sun and Moon, balance, and Hatha is all about that. Gentle Hatha yoga, a great place for a seeker to be introduced to yoga.
This style of yoga was developed by one of worlds most influential yogi's, BKS Iyengar. Iyengar yoga is a skill based practice that asana wise is about as serious as it gets in it's technique. Compared to some of the other styles the practice is slower and more deliberate. Iyengar's a great place for new yogis to learn how to practice in a controlled and precise way. BKS after a fall in India on his scooter started incorporating props in his practice to help him continue practicing while healing, today props to assist all level of students in are widely used in Iyengar classes. The teachers of this style rarely teach in other styles of yoga as they have dedicated their teaching careers to carrying forth Guruji message methodology long after his death in 2014 at the age of 95.
Prana vinyasa flow yoga
Prana vinyasa flow yoga (or simply vinyasa). This dynamic practice was created by another world renown yoga master, Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, 1888-1989. We highly recommend you look him up as his story is quite amazing and we can not imagine the yoga of today without his influence. Vinyasa practice is dynamic and emphasizes the connection between the breath and the pose. The practice can move quickly at moments and it's sure to satisfy yogi's looking to sweat from their 'workout'. Don't get me started there...
Ashtanga is based on the ancient yoga teachings. This style was introduced to the Western world by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois 1915-2009. This is the style of discipline, dedication and devotion. The ashtanga style has 6 separate series of asanas (going from first to sixth). The student must master each of these series individually before moving to the next one. In ashtanga you will work with a lot of transitions between the asanas. A more specific type of ashtanga is the so called Mysore style. Mysore ashtanga is practiced in groups of students all of which are on different levels of the practice. Every student is working on the specific series he/she is currently mastering. In the Western world Mysore is not so popular because it requires a devotion to the practice that many students do not understand or perhaps want. Ashtanga yoga is suitable for the practitioner who needs serious physical exercise in addition to a disciplined and structured approach.
Kundalini yoga does not fit the perceptions of a typical yoga class. This style introduced by Yogi Bhajan works with kundalini shakti and strives to move it up along the central energy channel of the body. Many new practitioners worry that the rising of kundalini may have various side effects. It is common for kundalini yogis to experience sudden bursts of energy after class. However, if you practice under the guidance of an experienced teacher, any healthy worries are unfounded. This style is known for its ability to very quickly change your emotional state and bring more balance into your life through various short but efficient techniques (known as kriyas). Of course, the only way to experience the power of kundalini yoga is to try the practice for yourself.
Yin yoga is blissful peace. This is a very passive and meditative style which teaches us patience and total relaxation. During a yin yoga class you will be guided into an asana which you will hold for 3 to 5 minutes. This way you can work with the deeper levels of the fascia - a very important network of tissues which plays vital role in our wellbeing. This slow and steady practice is a great opportunity for you to observe the dynamics of your mind and experience deeper levels of peace. The most important thing we can learn from yin yoga is the ability to be totally present. Yin yoga is a great addition to the more dynamic yoga practices since it brings a real balance to our yang-driven lives.
This popular style of yoga can easily trace its lineage back to it's Ashtanga and Vinyasa roots. Contemporary teachers such as Bryan Kest and Baron Baptiste, two of my yoga teaching influences, took what both Vinyasa and Ashtanga had to offer minus any dogma, and made a style that is both powerful, athletic, and at the same time accessible and simple. If a blend between Ashtanga and Vinyasa sounds appealing, a jack of all trades if you will, Power Yoga may be the key.
In conclusion, we'd like to remind you that the teacher is what makes the practice a pleasant and memorable experience. Seek for experienced yoga teachers whose style resonates with your own needs. Would you like to practice with some of the best teachers worldwide? Visit Udaya Live and learn more about one of the biggest European yoga and music summer festivals.