Lara Van Oerle

Lara Van Oerle

Journey To Zen

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What’s the right yoga style for you?

When you are new to yoga and want to try a class for the first time, the schedule at your local yoga studio or gym can be a little bit overwhelming. Should I try Vinyasa or Yin? Probably these names won’t even ring a bell. How do you pronounce that?? What yoga is not just stretching??? What’s the right yoga style for you? Let’s figure that out together!

There are many different yoga styles out there, some really intense, other more gentle or spiritual. But no worries, I’ve got you covered. Keep on reading and you’ll learn more about some of the most common yoga styles out there. Now you can choose a class that will suit your needs. And once you get more experienced I encourage you to try as many styles as possible! Because there is no such thing as to much yoga, right?

Vinyasa yoga

Perfect for: regular and experienced yoga practitioners, if you love to get a good sweat, challenge-lovers, switching things up

If you want to get your heart pumping, Vinyasa is the perfect option for you! You’ll gracefully flow from one posture to the next on the rhythm of your breath. The connection between movement and the breath is key in this style of yoga.

Vinyasa originated from the Ashtanga yoga style. While in Ashtanga classes you do the same poses over and over again. Vinyasa teachers can express their creativity, which makes every class unique and keeps things interesting. So if you love variation and like to try a lot of different postures, look no further. Vinyasa classes are known for raising your heart rate and can be the perfect way to test your physical limits.

Vinyasa is not recommended for beginners because it’s high paced. If you learn the postures at a slower pace with more focus on correct alignment, you’ll feel much more confident when you do take that vinyasa class.

Iyengar yoga

Perfect for: beginners, people with injuries, perfectionists, anatomy lovers

B.K.S. Iyengar is the founder of Iyengar yoga. This style has a big focus on correct alignment. You’ll hold postures for a long time while adjusting and getting to know the precise movements of each pose. During classes you will learn to work with lots of props like blocks, bolsters, belts, etc which will all help you to get perfectly in the correct postition!

There is a big emphasis on safety, so these classes are perfect for people with injuries and beginners. While you won’t get your heart rate up, you will be challenged because of the long holds (hellooooo legs).

Hatha yoga

Perfect for: beginners, if you want to feel zen and relaxed

Hatha yoga is a Sanskrit word that refers to the physical practice of yoga. So technically all styles where you do the physical yoga poses are hatha yoga (which are most classes in the West).    

When you see a Hatha class on the schedule it usually means that the class is slower paced, and gentle on the body. If you are a beginner this is the perfect yoga style for you! You’ll get a great introduction to the basic poses without feeling overwhelmed.

Ashtanga yoga

Perfect for: regular and experienced yoga practitioners, routine lovers, type-A peeps, if you like to get sweaty

If you like routine and strict guidelines, you found the yoga style for you! Ashtanga consists of six series. The yoga poses are specifically sequenced and are always the same. So you’ll never be surprised in an Ashtanga class! Which is something some people love, and others not so much.

The sequence is challenging and will leave you covered in sweat. As in Vinyasa yoga, you’ll move through it guided by your breath.

Power yoga

Perfect for: experienced yoga practitioners, if you want to take your practice to the next level, handstand lovers

Power yoga is a vigorous, fitness-like style of yoga. You can expect quick movements and transiations, followed by lots of strengthening poses. If you like to go upside down, this is the place to practice your handstands, headstands and other more advanced poses.

This style of yoga is recommended for more experienced yogis who want to take their practice to the next level. If you like variety, you will not be dissapointed because teachers create their own sequences, so no class will be the same!

Bikram yoga

Perfect for: all levels of practitioners, routine lovers, people who like it hot, detoxifying

If you want to be covered in sweat after a yoga class, we have a match! Bikram Choudhury created Bikram yoga about 30 years ago.

This yoga style consists of a specific series of 26 poses, that you will perform twice each. As you move through this set routine the yoga teacher will shout out all the poses and ques. There are also 2 breathing exercises included in the 90minute long practice. The class is held in a heated room set to 35-42 degrees Celsius with 40% humidity. Bonus tip: don’t forget your water bottle and towel!

Hot yoga

Perfect for: regular and advanced yogis, sweat lovers, if you want to switch things up

Hot yoga is very similar to Bikram because it’s practiced in a heated room. The biggest difference between the two is that the yoga teachers don’t perform the set Bikram sequence. Each yoga practice will be different. Yoga teachers can get creative in their sequences, but generally hot yoga is more suitable for regular to advanced practitioners.
PS: don’t forget your towel.

Yin yoga

Perfect for: all levels of practitioners, stretching, deep muscle relaxation

Yin yoga is the perfect style of yoga to calm the body and the mind. Key to yin yoga is that you will hold seated poses for several minutes at a time. This allows the connective tissues and muscles to completely relax and lengthen.

Props like blankets and bolsters are used to make you feel fully comfortable. There is no need to engage any muscles; this practice is all about releasing and let gravity do its work. Sometimes the poses will feel uncomfortable the first minute, until your body let’s go over time, with some help from the breath. The focus in yin yoga lies more on the meditative aspect. That’s why after a yin yoga class you will feel totally zenned out!

Restorative yoga

Perfect for: all levels of practitioners, people with injuries, stressed out gals, winding down

If you want to slow down and experience deep relaxation, a restorative yoga class is the place to be! In this practice you will move slow and hold poses for a longer period of time. This will give your body the chance to wind down. You will literally restore your energy, and bring your body back to balance in this class.

Restorative yoga classes use a lot of props so your body can fully relax into the poses. Bolsters, blankets and eye pillows will become your new best friends. Restorative yoga helps to cleanse the mind and let go of all your worries (stress, what’s that??).

Kundalini yoga

Perfect for: all levels of practitioners, everyone who is into the woo-woo, strengthening the core

Kundalini yoga is known for its big emphasis on spiritually. The goal of this practice is to release the trapped Kundalini energy at the bottom of the spine. By doing yoga poses, breath work, chanting, using mantras and meditation you will balance the energy centres in the body. This allows the trapped energy to move up the spine.

Kundalini yoga increases mental clarity and raises your consciousness.

Prenatal yoga

Perfect for: (yes you guessed it!) pregnant women

Prenatal yoga is created to help future moms connect with their baby and get them prepared for pregnancy. It’s also a great way to keep moving your body in a safe way during pregnancy. You can do prenatal yoga throughout all trimesters. You will be doing pelvic floor work, gentle stretching, modified yoga postures, a lot of breathing exercises and bond with your baby during practice.
Classes are also a great way to connect with other pregnant women who are going to the same experiences as you!

Hopefully you feel confident now in choosing your first class, or learned something more about the different yoga styles! Yoga is such a beautiful practice, and each style has its own purpose and benefits. So even after you’ve found your favourite style make sure to switch it up once in a while. That way you can keep growing and evolving your yoga practice!

What’s your favourite yoga style? Let me know in the comments below!

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