Which Yoga style suits you? Find an overview of different Yoga styles.
In Sanskrit, the term “Hatha” unifies all physical practices of Yoga. However, in modern language, this term is often used to describe a Yoga style, where a lot of focus is placed on the specific asanas. They are thoughtfully prepared and a lot of focus is put on good posture and breath.
Hatha Yoga often is paced a bit slower than other Yoga styles (e.g. Vinyasa). Therefore, Hatha Yoga is a good start for any Yoga beginner and those who want to really experience each asana in all its shapes.
The word “Vinyasa” is composed of two Sanskrit words: “Vi”, which means “to place”, and “nyasa”, which means “energy”. So literally, Vinyasa describes the conscious placement of energy in a specific way.
Vinyasa Yoga is a dynamic and rather athletic style of Yoga, in which the students flow through the different asanas following the rhythm of their breath. With each breath, a new posture is taken, which creates a dynamic feeling of flowing through the practice.
While the traditional Yoga styles are seen as “Yang Yoga” – as the active part of Yoga – Yin Yoga focuses on the passive side. Postures are held for a long time of up to 3 minutes, while they should only be held at max. 60% of intensity. This allows the body to slowly open up and sink deeper into each asana. Yin Yoga also has a great meditative character.
This style is very suitable for beginners, as you increase your flexibility and can easily follow the pace of the class and follow instructions.
Iyengar Yoga was introduced by the famous Yogi B.K.S. Iyengar. In this style, a lot of focus is put on the perfect alignment of the asanas. Therefore, you spend a lot of time in each posture adjusting every part of your body while also controlling your breath. While this Yoga style might be more static, it is very challenging, as you need a lot of strength and discipline to hold the asanas. However, you will feel relaxed and open after each session. Additionally, this is a good Yoga style for people with injuries, as it pays a lot of attention to the body.
Ashtanga Yoga is a very demanding Yoga style and therefore not for beginners. It involves predefined sequences of asanas, which are practised at a fast pace, so students are expected to know the series already. It is started with sun salutations, followed by a series of standing and floor postures.
Bikram or Hot Yoga
This Yoga style was founded by Bikram Choudhury. It involves a predefined series of asanas, which are practised in a room with ~40°C and humidity of ~40% – so sauna-like conditions. This allows the muscles to warm up and become more flexible. Also, it strengthens the cardiovascular system.
After Bikram Choudhury had faced sexual assault lawsuits in the U.S., many studios renamed themselves to “Hot Yoga” rather than “Bikram Yoga”.