If scanning the yoga timetable leaves you lost and confused, don’t panic. Just check out our simple guide to yoga styles old and new
From Ashtanga to Bikram – and beyond – the variety of yoga styles on offer in gyms and studios across the country is amazing. ‘It’s awesome that there are so many different types of yoga,’ says yoga instructor and key leader at Lululemon Katy Bateman (). ‘There’s a style for everyone!’ So how do you work out which class ticks your fitness boxes? ‘We all demand, want and need different things for our bodies. Whether you want to flow, sweat, invert, rejuvenate, recover or relax, there’s a practice out there for you,’ says Katy. ‘But our bodies (and minds) don’t necessarily need the same type of practice all the time – sometimes you want to stretch and strengthen, sometimes you just want to chill – there’s a whole menu of yoga out there to feed our bodies with what we need.’ So, whatever you fancy, check out the WF guide to some of the most popular yoga styles out there – plus some of the very latest classes to hit the mat – to find the perfect class for your mood!
Overview: Developed by BKS Iyengar, this is a technique-focused style of yoga. It concentrates on getting the correct alignment, and yoga blocks and straps are often used to assist with this.
Benefits: You’ll really nail every pose. And it’s perfect for injury rehab as it’s slower paced, but technically focused.
Expert tip: ‘The use of props (blankets, bolsters, belts, bricks) help to move students deeper into poses, and has influenced many schools of yoga,’ explains Katy. ‘It’s great for newbies.’
Overview: Developed by Bikram Choudhury around 40 years ago, Bikram yoga classes are a sweaty affair.
They are held in heated rooms (around 40°C) to aid detoxing and help muscles lengthen, and follow a set sequence of poses. It doesn’t move quickly in the same way that a flow class does, as poses are held for longer. Bikram is very popular and classes are held nationwide.
Benefits: The heat is said to help the body detox and can help to boost your flexibility.
Expert tip: ‘The heat is used to aid sweating, detoxing, sweating, strengthening, sweating and… Did I mention sweating?! Suitable for all levels, but remember to drink lots of water the day before your class – and after the class!’ says Katy.
Overview: Ashtanga is a lively style of yoga that follows a set sequence of postures. It’s flowing in nature and is a physically challenging style of yoga.
Benefits: The sequence is always the same so you’ll master it after a few sessions and be able to relax into the class.
Expert tip: ‘This demanding practice is not for the faint-hearted and will see you sweat,’ says Katy. ‘I’d recommend beginners take a few slower-paced Hatha classes before embarking on an Ashtanga session, to get used to the postures.’
Overview: This style is all about reaping the mental and spiritual benefits of yoga.
The idea is that the physical practice can help to let your inner goodness shine through.
Benefits: It’s a great way to clear your head and refocus on the things that are important to you. Perfect if you’ve got a lot on your mind.
Expert tip: ‘This practice encourages you to move from the heart, focusing on how you feel in a pose, and helping you move your body into its optimum alignment, which can be very therapeutic,’ says Katy. ‘It’s great for all levels, and creates a great foundation for a solid yoga practice.’
Overview: Hatha yoga covers any type of yoga that teaches physical poses, but these classes tend to be quite slow-paced and gentle. Classes advertised as Hatha usually provide a good grounding in the basics of yoga.
Benefits: You’ll feel more relaxed and give your body a good stretch out, without the intensity of some of the other classes.
Expert tip: ‘If a class is labelled “Hatha” it will probably be a bit slower, focusing on the alignment of your body and playing with some classic sun salutations,’ Katy says. ‘It’s perfect for all levels – beginners, intermediate and advanced all benefit.’
Overview: This is a very fluid practice, which enables you to get your heart rate up. It’s a very similar style to Ashtanga, but doesn’t follow the set sequence of Ashtanga, so every class will vary.
Benefits: You’ll never get bored, as each class is different from the next.
Expert tip: ‘It’s a dynamic style, but suitable for all levels. As with many styles of yoga, teachers often give variations on poses for different levels as you move through the sequences,’ Katy explains