Yoga is an art, a science, and a philosophy, but what most of us know it as in the West is a physical practice of poses (or asanas). Yoga practice has many health benefits including increased flexibility, better muscle tone, improved posture, as well as mental advantages like reduced stress levels, mental clarity and focus. The practice of yoga has an incredible ability to balance our central nervous system. One of the easiest ways to participate in a yoga class is through a virtual yoga class that is offered through sites like this one. There is no need to travel, you can select the style of yoga class that suits your energy level and personal needs and best of all class begins when you want it to, fitting perfectly into your own personal schedule.
It’s important to understand that there are a number of different types of yoga classes and that no matter your physical ability, there are class styles anyone can participate in. However, there are some styles of yoga that are more challenging and strenuous and don’t necessarily benefit everyone. Before you commit yourself, it is best to have at least a working knowledge of the different styles of yoga practice you may encounter. Then you can be better prepared to choose the best style for you.
I offer the following styles through my virtual studio:
Hatha is the broad term for most types of yoga that involves physical postures with the exception of Kundalini Yoga. It is one of the most basic forms of yoga you will find. If you are just starting out, Hatha classes tend to be beginner friendly. Postures are generally held for longer periods of time, which allows the practitioners time and space to explore their physical alignment as well as mental focus. These classes are not aerobic, but can be challenging by building heat and strength through stillness.
The term Vinyasa means in translation ‘to place in a special way’. It is a fluid style of yoga that continually moves through a series of linked posture supported by the flow of the breath. This style is going to be a bit more challenging. People who love vinyasa practice feel as though they tap into a moving form of meditation while practicing. Many classes are rooted with a theme and are often supported with music to keep the class moving.
Restorative yoga is a releasing practice. It is about finding support, ease and rest in each of the postures. These postures are supported with yoga props helping to promote full relaxation in both body and mind. Restorative yoga can be helpful to relieve pain and chronic stress, inspiring a sense of greater well-being. This is perfect after a long, hard day at work or for individuals with some restriction in movement.
Yin Yoga is a slow and still based yoga where postures are explored seated, lying down or prone. Each pose is supported with yoga props such as blocks, blankets, straps and bolsters and held for a period of time, anywhere from 1-6 minutes. This style of practice can be challenging in a different way, offering the partitioners a chance to focus of breath and mental release while providing a sustainable stress to the connective tissue of the body. This style of yoga also has connection to traditional Chinese medicine and mindful breathing techniques.
The following class styles are also popular, but not offered through my online studio (although, if hot yoga speaks to you, by all means turn on my classes and crank up the heat!):
Ashtanga is a traditional style of vinyasa yoga. It is a style that progresses in series and follows the same set of postures each time. It can be a very challenging and aerobic practice. The benefit of this style of yoga is that through repetition you can see where you are physically progressing in the practice. The draw back is that because the practice is so repetitive it can be hard of the joints of the body.
Iyengar is a version of Hatha Yoga that was named after its developer, the late B. K. S. Iyengar. It stresses the proper alignment of the body through each pose. Iyengar himself was largely responsible for the creation of many yoga props such as blocks, chairs, blankets, etc. These props are used to keep the body in correct placement. Since we are all in different bodies, with different shapes, availabilities, and restrictions, yoga props are meant to assist to make each pose possible for every kind of body. Iyengar practice is slow paced and concentrates on keeping the body in the right position for a period of time. This is another place where someone with an injury can find a passive recuperative technique. Be sure to discuss your situation with the teacher before beginning.
Kundalini yoga is taken from Hatha. The biggest difference between these two styles is that Kundalini yoga incorporates moving kriyas (repeated actions), chanting mantras and specific breathing exercises with physical poses.
Hot classes are held in heated rooms, very heated. Bikram yoga falls into this category and is a set of 26 poses developed by Bikram Choudhury that follows the same patterns of poses each time. Hot Yoga is similar, but it does not restrict itself to the 26 postures developed by Mr. Choudhury.
These are only some of the styles of yoga practice that you can find through a virtual yoga class or a traditional class in a bricks-and-mortar building.
I’d love you to pop over to our online yoga space and give some classes a try!