Which yoga style is for me?

For any budding yogi starting out on their journey the myriad of different styles can be confusing.

We’ve summarised some of the most popular types of yoga to help you decide which style is right for you:

  • Purna; Meaning "complete" this style integrates yoga postures with philosophy, meditation, pranayama breath control as well as the yogic personal and social codes of conduct. This approach is suited to all levels.

  • Hatha: General term for yoga incorporating postures, as opposed to breathing or meditation exercises. Also used to describe a basic, beginner style with less challenging postures.

  • Vinyasa: Fluid, flowing style where students move continuously between postures with coordinated breathing. Most classes are geared towards fit, physically able students.

  • Iyengar: This style focuses on maintaining proper body alignment even in less flexible students, and encourages the use of props; it is accessible to anyone.

  • Ashtanga: This is an athletic and more demanding practice where students move rapidly and smoothly from one posture to the next. The breath is synchronized with a progressive series of postures and the smooth and uninterrupted nature of the practice means that regular practitioners learn to observe whatever arises without holding on to it or rejecting it. Expect to sweat in this class!

  • Bikram: Speaking of sweat, this style of yoga is practiced in a room heated to over 37ºC which helps to increase flexibility. The same sequence of postures and pranayama is used in every session; 1 breathing exercise followed by 26 poses and finishing with another breathing exercise. Best for physically able practitioners; this style is challenging and requires full concentration.

  • Yin; a slow-paced style of yoga where poses are held for longer periods of time—usually up to 5 minutes or longer. While in these postures you are encouraged to relax into them and soften your muscles. This style is suitable for all levels.

My first piece of advice for anyone new to yoga is to try them all! Each style has it's own rhythm and provides different benefits; you will quickly work out which one is best suited to your body and what you want to get out of your practice. If you're worried about a specific injury then speak to the teacher in advance and they will advise you whether their class is right for you.

And my second piece of advice; go into that class wholeheartedly, with poise and determination. Dedicate yourself to that hour and see where it takes you; you will be amazed by what you discover.

Claire Hocken