Bikram, Kundalini, Power, Restoration, Ashtanga… With so many yoga styles on offer, how do you find the best fit for you?
We're in a yoga age, and it often seems like there's a yoga school popping up on just about every corner. While this is good for choice, it does make it hard to find a yoga style that suits you. As a yoga teacher, I constantly come across students who have spent years trying to find a style that 'speaks' to them. I have also met students who tried a class once, hated it, and never went back.
Above : Yoga Wall
The best way I've found to explain yoga is to frame it like this: Yoga in the west, certainly from a posture (asana) point of view, is a huge buffet of choice. You can choose something slow moving like Yin (six minute holds and up) or Restoration (gentle postures and sequences) to calm your nervous system. You could pick Bikram or a heated Power studio class for a session that will make you sweat and give you a work out high. Or, if you want something breath and chant orientated, then Kundalini could be your fix.
Above (L to R): Hatha, Vinyasa, Restorative
In your first year of yoga, it's a good idea to try lots of classes and styles. Eventually you'll find a type, time and teacher that will be a perfect fit. As a general rule, when we start a yoga practice, we pick a style that suits our lifestyle:
- If you are goal focused and like to sweat it out, Bikram, Power, Ashtanga and Vinyasa would be a good fit.
- If you are more mellow and like things to move a little slower, then try Hatha, Restoration and Yin.
- If you want more of a spiritual focus and would like to explore the other limbs, then Kundalini, meditation and philosophy are good choices.
- If you like things done step by step and want a thorough understanding of your practice, you can't go wrong with Iyengar. I did my initial teacher training in Iyengar and it has given me a wonderful, solid foundation.
Above (L to R): Ashtanga, Iyengar, Yin
Once you find a style you like, stick with it. As international yoga teacher Richard Freeman says, pick a road and stay on it. Results come from digging deeper, the real yoga only begins the moment you are challenged.