Yoga has become so popular in recent years, and it is constantly evolving! There are so many different styles and traditions of yoga, it can be confusing to get started on a yoga journey. Having taught yoga for over 6 years, I recently set out on a quest to learn even more about the different traditions of yoga, and share them with you here! Below I’ll provide highlights of each style I’ve tried. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it is certainly a good start to get you thinking about what type of yoga might serve you!
Vinyasa Flow is probably the most common type of yoga out there, which is great, because you can find it almost anywhere! Expect to flow through postures sequentially in coordination with your breath. While every teacher is a bit different, you’ll likely find a combination of movement and holding postures, with plenty of options to modify as a beginner or challenge yourself if you are more advanced.
Expect to be challenged and build heat! Ashtanga is strict, intense, and demanding, in a good way. In a traditional Ashtanga class, you will practice a series of postures that become more advanced as you go. You’ll likely move in all directions, to include going upside down! Be sure to talk with your teacher if you are new to Ashtanga, so they can help you modify and build up to the deep versions of the postures safely. You can find an awesome Ashtanga class locally HERE!
Another very traditional way to practice! Iyengar emphasizes alignment and precise actions to achieve certain benefits from the postures. You may also learn breathing practices, or pranayama, during class. Iyengar yoga uses lots of props to increase safety and effectiveness in the postures, making it accessible for all ages and levels of practitioner. There’s a traditional Iyengar studio in Bethesda, MD.
This class will move your energy! Kundalini yoga includes dynamic, repetitive motions, breathing practices, mantras, gestures, and meditations to mobilize and strengthen the body and bring awareness to the mind. Many teachers may offer themes and topics to get you thinking about how getting empowered on the mat can positively affect the rest of your life.
A more passive way to practice, yin yoga offers slow and still holding postures that are meant to target your connective tissues. Yin is a great way to quiet down in the midst of a busy lifestyle. You may hold some postures for up to 5 minutes, so always speak with your teacher if you have injuries so they can help you modify for postures that might be contraindicated.
Restorative yoga is slow, restful, and meditative. With the use of props, you’ll hold nourishing postures for a few minutes each. A great way to practice self-care. Many restorative classes also include a guided meditation!
26 challenging postures and 2 breathing exercises in a hot room! The instruction is very technical and precise, and you’ll do the same postures each time – a great way to watch yourself progress. Some of the postures can be intense, especially in the heat, so talk to your teacher before class to ensure you can practice in a safe way with modifications, if needed!
Expect to fly and have fun! With the use of hammocks, you’ll set up the postures in a playful way that gives you a different experience of stretching, increasing balance and strength, and inverting. It’s fun and different! I enjoyed my class at Sol Yoga New Market.
Experience the deep effects of yoga! A Viniyoga class will use breath as the medium for movement in a combination of dynamic and holding postures. Your teacher may also include breath adaptations or postural adaptations to produce a desired effect. Teachers in the Viniyoga lineage specialize in applying the many tools of yoga to suit the individual, so working with a teacher one-on-one is a great way to establish a personal practice catered to your needs. You can find a Viniyoga teacher in your area here!
When starting a yoga practice, please always remember to:
- Let the teacher know if you are pregnant or have any injuries or conditions that you may want to modify for. They’ll help you adjust!
- Keep an open mind. Each style of yoga will focus on a unique set of benefits that yoga offers. Try a few different classes and teachers, stick with the ones you really like, and leave the rest.
- Always practice for YOU. Modify when you need to. Yoga wants to serve you, let it!