When it comes to trying yoga, I’ve heard all the excuses. Among my favorites: “Yoga’s not for me,” “I tried yoga and didn’t like it,” and “I’m not flexible and/or strong enough for yoga.”
I don’t even know where to start. (Another post for another day.)
The truth is that yoga is for everyone, but that doesn’t mean it’s one-size-fits-all. The key is finding the right style and the best type of yoga for you. But how do you do that?
The short answer: Find the type that provides the benefits you’re hoping to gain. Say you come to class looking for stress relief. The right yoga for you is the one that gives you the most relief from stress.
Sounds simple, right? It would be if there weren’t so many styles to choose from. And, oh by the way, what the heck do these class names even mean?
To help you on your quest to find your perfect fit, here’s the quick and dirty (or a refresher).
The 8 Most Common Styles of Yoga
- A series of 26 poses and two breathing exercises that is commonly referred to as “hot yoga” because the room is heated to approximately 105 degrees.
- Best for those who think yoga is “too easy” and anyone looking for a serious sweat session.
- A variety-filled, flowing style where you move with your breath, like a rhythmic dance that’ll put your strength and endurance to the test.
- Best for those who like to move it, move it (like non-stop) and those who get bored easily.
- A challenging set series of vigorous and powerful poses connected to the breath with some longer holds.
- Best for people who are all about them gains through structure, focus, repetition and discipline.
- A faster-paced and less structured but still very athletic variation on Ashtanga with some added strength building work for the core and upper body.
- Best for those who think that yoga is “not a workout” or would prefer that their yoga feel like an ass-kicking group fitness class.
- A slower paced practice involving lots of props to make it accessible to every body with a heavy emphasis on precision, alignment, safety and therapeutic benefits.
- Best for detail-oriented, “am I doing this right?” types and those with injury concerns.
- A more meditative practice involving stillness in the body and mind using long, passive holds for deep release of the muscles, joints and connective tissues
- Best for those who need to chill and learn to do it gently instead of always trying to force relaxation (you know who you are).
- Looooooooong holds, which are fully supported by props to allow for complete relaxation – I call it Snuggle Yoga.
- Best for those who need a great big hug from their mama with gentle reassurance that everything’s gonna be a-okay.
- A moderately-paced, well-rounded practice using meditation, breathing, as well as elements of many other styles.
- Best for those who want to just pop their head in and see what this yoga stuff is all about and those looking to explore all aspects of their practice.
More Tips to Find the Best Type of Yoga for You
Before giving up on yoga completely, try a few styles, teachers and facilities. You may initially be drawn to one style that closely matches the tone and tempo of your life. Or you may find yourself drawn to a practice that’s the polar opposite of your daily life.
Don’t get overwhelmed by all the choices and don’t feel like you have to lock yourself into one style. It’s not uncommon for yogis to go years practicing only one style just to abruptly be drawn to something completely different.
With time and practice, you become really in tune with your body and may find that you gravitate toward multiple styles for the unique benefits each has to offer. But don’t worry, that’s not considered cheating.
Have you found your perfect fit? —Alison