Monday, January 9, 2012

So Many Different Yoga Styles, But Which One Is Right For You? by Clare Swindlehurst

You might be surprised to learn that there isn't one style of yoga practice so you'll need to learn some more about the different styles in order to decide which one is right for you. In this article we'll take a closer look at four practice styles: hatha yoga, vinyasa, ashtanga and power yoga to help you on the way to your decision.

1. Hatha yoga

Hatha yoga is often used interchangeably with the word yoga and classes are usually slow-paced involving stretching, some simple breathing exercises and some seated meditations. If you are a beginner then this is a good place to start so that you can spend time learning the basic techniques.

If you are looking for a calming and relaxing experience then hatha yoga is probably right for you. If you'd prefer something more energetic then you should consider vinyasa instead.

2. Vinyasa

Vinyasa means breath-synchonised movement and in these classes the teacher will ask you to move from one pose to another in time with your breath. The poses all flow together in a fluid movement.

Vinyasa classes offer a lot of variety due to the vast number of poses, although most will include the Sun Salutations. The speed of the movements is very much dictated by the teacher, so if you find that a class is too fast for you look for a different teacher. In order to appreciate vinyasa you need to have a teacher that you are comfortable with as their style will shape the class, keep looking until you find someone you connect with.

3. Ashtanga

Ashtanga is a series of poses which realign the spine, detoxify the body and build strength, stamina and flexibility. There are 75 poses in all and they can take anywhere between an hour and a half to two hours to complete. You start with sun salutations and then move to standing poses, seated poses, inversions and backbends before finishing with relaxation.

You can learn ashtanga at a teacher-led class, and then when you are happy with the order of the poses you can either practice on your own or in a mysore class where you practice at your own pace but have a teacher for guidance.

Ashtanga is a very athletic form of practice and is very popular. If you like a sense of order then this style will appeal to you.

4. Power yoga

Power yoga is often used to describe vigorous, fitness-style classes, which are based on ashtanga but don't follow the same series of poses each time. The classes focus on strength and flexibility and are popular in gyms and health clubs.

If you already quite fit and enjoy exercise rather than meditation then this style of yoga may appeal to you.

There are many different styles of yoga practice from the slow meditative style of hatha yoga through to the structured approach of ashtanga and the vigorous but often changing power yoga. Start out with a class suitable for beginners to that you can learn the poses and then move onto the style of yoga that suits you best in order to benefit from this wonderful form of exercise.