One of the first few things to know when you are starting yoga is to know which yoga type you will want to focus on first. This will extremely help you in choosing the classes that you want to try, as well as in choosing the instructor.
I first started my yoga class in Hatha type, which is beginner-friendly. & I discovered other types of yoga when I went to Bali for a zen break from my busy city life. There are different types of yoga out there that can definitely overwhelm you if you don’t really know what each type of yoga represents. It’s best to get a general idea of what are the different types of yoga and their benefits so you can familiarize yourself and not being scared of seeing weird Sanskrit names when entering a yoga studio or class.
However, with that being said, when choosing the type of yoga you’d want to try shouldn’t limit you to where you can with yoga. Yoga is all about the experience of body and mind, and different types of yoga will certainly give you different types of experiences as well. I suggest to never settle with one type, and to forever keep exploring 🙂
P/s: To read on where I do my daily yoga practice, check out my review on Alo Moves here.
Anyway, below are 9 different types of yoga and their benefits 🙂
Hatha Yoga is again, the first class of yoga that I had tried. Hatha is actually a term that means the physical postures of yoga. I would like to believe all of the other types of yoga are kinda an extension of Hatha since Hatha is pretty much learning the fundamental postures in yoga.
Hatha yoga poses are usually beginner-friendly and will concentrate on the breathing (pranayama) more. Meaning that you will hold the pose for a few breaths before gently changing it to another pose.
It’s a rather slow moving class. You won’t be sweating as much but will definitely feel a lot lighter physically and mentally after.
Benefits: Helps release the tension on your body and relax the mind, due to the pranayama that you do. If this is the first class that you go to as a yoga newbie, it will definitely help you to become more aware of your body.
Best for: Beginners because they are normally more slow-paced and easy to catch.
Iyengar yoga is called Iyengar because of the founder – B.K.S. Iyengar (too much Iyengar in one sentence!).
Anyway, Iyengar yoga focuses on detailed movements of each pose. I mean, extremely detailed. Similar like Hatha yoga, Iyengar yoga will hold a pose for a longer period (sometimes even longer than Hatha) and also will be focusing on the breathing and overall body alignment.
For safety purposes, this type of class usually uses a lot of props to help you to get into certain poses perfectly and activating the right muscle.
Also similar like Hatha, you won’t break a sweat so much during Iyengar class but you will give yourself a pat on the back to be able to manage all the poses.
Benefits: Will help you increase your flexibility with the poses and once you get to more advanced postures, it can really help tone your muscles 😉 I read that it can help with injuries but I think you might want to consult with your doctor first.
Best for: Yogis who like to learn more on body alignment, form and movement. If you have never tried this, I’d recommend starting with a beginner-friendly class in order to get used to the technique.
Kundalini yoga class does not only focus on physical awareness but more on the spiritual side too. It involves a lot of breathing exercise to release the kundalini energy that’s said to be trapped in the lower spine.
You’d also be activating your core muscle a lot more as there are, as I’ve said, intense breathing exercise. They will do some chanting and meditation – which can get pretty intense if you’re just starting yoga and it might scare you off as you can feel like it’s kind of a cult. But, it’s all good boo boo, it’s all good.
Benefits: It’s a workout for your body, mind and soul, it’s good to have that self-awakening and be better at self-awareness.
Best for: Someone who wants to feel liberated, as though something is trapped within their soul.
Ashtanga yoga is a bit of an advanced class as it normally requires several advanced sequence of postures. It takes a while to really love it, I would say. I would definitely recommend to start off with one advanced pose at a time before going to ashtanga yoga.
They sometimes have a series of sequence that you will get hang off after a while, as you flow from one pose to another. You will need to focus to flow with your breaths as well, linking movement to breaths. This might seem easy but it will definitely build the internal heat. Oh and prepareee to get sweattttyyyy!
Some classes have a copy pasted sequence where everyone will do the poses together, while others are more relaxed and gets everyone to do at their own pace (Mysore).
Benefits: Ashtanga is sort of like a real workout, it will help strengthen your core muscle, build your stamina and increase your flexibility at the same time.
Best for: Yogis who like to practice the same sequence with a strict order and want to challenge their body with the advanced postures.
Vinyasa yoga basically means to place yoga postures in a special way. It is adopted from Ashtanga yoga.
However, unlike ashtanga, it doesn’t have a straight-forward sequence. The sequence usually depends on the teacher, but similar to ashtanga where movements of each poses will link to your breaths.
Vinyasa yoga is more fast-paced. But, it also depends on the teacher on how long they want to hold certain poses. Just be prepared to get your heart rate up in any case, and to get sweaty 😀
Benefits: Similar like ashtanga, it will help strengthen your muscles and increase flexibility. The breathing will also help empties out your mind and focus on what you are doing.
Best for: Yogis who like endurance. Usually, yogis who like running or any cardio exercise will prefer this yoga type.
Prepare to sweattttttt like nobody’s business!
It’s called Bikram for its founder, Bikram Choudhury.
Bikram yoga has a sequence set of 26 basic postures, practiced in what feels like a sauna room at 105 degrees Fahrenheit or 40 degrees Celcius (I’m from the UK colonized country, so), and 40% humidity. Since it has its own sequence set, after a while, you will know exactly what to do.
For this type of yoga class, prepare your yoga towel and a good grip yoga mat. I’d recommend Lululemon The Reversible Yoga Mat. You can read my review here.
If you’re new to this class, please take it easy and don’t push yourself too much as it can be a little challenging in terms of your body’s hydration and endurance to the heat and movements. Don’t forget to properly hydrate yourself prior to the class!
Benefits: Since you’ll be sweating a lot and removing the toxins from your body, it’s good for losing weight and increasing your blood circulation.
Best for: Yogis who like strict and easy to remember sequence.
7. Hot Yoga
Extremely similar to Bikram yoga, the only difference is that Hot yoga doesn’t have the strict sequence.
Again, I would recommend not to overdo it and to know your capacity. Usually, in Bikram and Hot yoga, you tend to overstretch your body as the warm room can make you feel like you are moving deeper into each pose.
Benefits: Good for losing weight, increase endurance and blood circulation.
Best for: Yogis who like to sweat and enjoy a tough workout.
This yoga class is more relaxed and most of the postures will be on the mat, in a seated position. The postures will be held for a long period of time, to stretch and open up the muscle. Yin yoga class is usually meant for restorative purposes.
Yin yoga can be meditative and can be great for beginners who want to try meditating as it’s usually held in a very relaxed setting. Majority of the time in the class, you just need to listen to your instructor’s direction and won’t be needing to look up as much.
I would suggest when going to Yin yoga class, to let the gravity does its work to stretch out your muscle. However, if you’re not very flexible, you might find this class to be rather challenging. Fret not, you can always do the poses at your level of comfort and feel free to utilize the props for support.
I would say that some people love Yin yoga and some just straight the opposite. For flexible yogis, try not to overdo it with the poses as the poses are held for a long period of time, and you don’t want to tear your tissues.
Benefits: Increase flexibility and circulation, as well as becoming more aware of your body and mind.
Best for: Yogis who like to unwind, stretch while still being aware of your body posture.
Restorative yoga is great to practice to end your day. Definitely my favorite kind of yoga after a full and long day at work. It has fewer poses but hold for a longer period of time for body relaxation.
A lot of props are being used for this class as it helps to sink, support and immerse yourself better with deep relaxation. You can also put on an eye mask with drops of essential oils.
Restorative yoga will really help to free your mind and relax your body.
Benefits: Pure relaxation!
Best for: Yogis who want to wind down after a long day. This will also be great for yoga beginners as the poses are less challenging. It can also help you to get a better and more peaceful sleep.
So Which Class Should You Start With?
You can start your yoga class with any yoga types that pick your interest. Though I would recommend to start with beginner-friendly ones, there’s really nothing stopping you from trying out all 9 types of yoga! (Cause.. pourquoi pas, non?) & only commit to the one(s) that you think suits you best.
The different types of yoga is definitely not meant for everybody. I’m a mid 20 year old female, might not need the same class with a 40 year old male who goes to the gym regularly. So, test the waters and see which one you’re interested in exploring more, and stick to it 🙂
I hope this article will shed some light to you on the different types of yoga!
If you have been to your first class, what type of yoga was it? & if you haven’t started your yoga journey, which one are you looking to try? Let me know in the comment section down below 🙂