Updated: Nov 30, 2021
There is a considerable (and often confusing) number of different yoga styles, from dynamic Ashtanga Vinyasa to alignment-focussed Iyengar Yoga, from meditative Yin Yoga to spiritual Kundalini Yoga. Which style is best for you, depends on a range of factors:
"Some like it hot, some like it cold ...", some like it hard and some like it soft. The advantage of having a wide range of yoga styles is that there is something to suit everybody. Having said that, it is worth keeping in mind that we tend to practice what we like, and maybe forget to practice what we need. So if you always go for the gentle, relaxing style of yoga you may be missing out on the benefits of an active class, like building strength. And if you always go for the challenge, maybe you are missing out on the subtle experiences of a still and permissive class. Variation can help you find that all important balance.
You can check out my style of teaching on the YogaVita YouTube channel.
I might state the obvious here, but please be mindful of your health. When you are ill or injured you have to adapt your practice accordingly. Equally, consider your general form and mood of the day: You may be feeling stressed or joyful, low or bursting with energy. All these factors will have an impact on your yoga practice. It has a lot to do with taking care of yourself. An important aspect here is to refrain from comparing yourself with others. Let go of unhelpful amibitions and judgements, and embrace loving acceptance and respect.
Which yoga styles are offered in the area you live in? I started my yoga journey in my local sports centre. It was a generic posture-focussed class, later complemented by a couple of more dynamic, flowing classes. Maybe for that reason, I am less interested in styles and lineages, and more concerned about teaching yoga in a way that is accessible and safe for a wide range of people. If you are really into Yin Yoga and there isn't a Yin class nearby, find an alternative (or practice Yin with me online on a Friday evening!). Any yoga is better than no yoga! And with a lot of online classes available these days, you can complement your group sessions with an online yoga practice at home.
It could be argued that there are as many yoga styles as there are yoga teachers. Just as not all maths or music teachers are the same, so do yoga teachers come in all shapes and sizes, temperaments and personalities. Find someone you feel comfortable with in the sense that you feel accepted, respected, and in safe hands. This will motivate you to attend class regularly (whether that is a group, private or online class). And by practicing regularly, you will gain the most benefits.
The essence of all yoga styles is the same: Yoga poses, breathing techniques, and meditations - held together by a philosopical framework. What really makes a difference is the intention with which you practice yoga. Do you want to build strength or relax? Do you need to destress or do you want to refine your technique? Do you want to energise or wind down? This is perhaps the reason, why yoga has become so popular: Because you can adapt yoga to suit your needs (rather than the other way round).
Make yoga an activity of daily living
Practice makes perfect. To reap the rewards of yoga, attending classes is only one part of the story: A regular yoga practice at home is important, too. According to research on the frequency of yoga practice, doing yoga at home seems to be even more important than how long we have been practicing yoga or how many classes we take. This emphasizes a simple fact: If we want to fully benefit from our yoga practice, we need to make yoga part of our daily life.
Yoga styles offered by YogaVita
Rise & Shine:
An energising flow class to wake up body and mind
A mindful flow class to stretch and strengthen the entire body
A gentle, slow class with a focus on alignment and stretching
Restore & Relax with Yin Yoga
A mix of gentle movement and still Yin poses to release the stresses of the week