I spent a slice of my hippie days in Goa practising yoga and walking around barefoot. It was magical. I was happy, lean and really energetic. Many many years later I have sadly lost it. I would totally love to get back into it. These days yoga totes fashionable and as a result has popped up everywhaaa. It can be slightly overwhelming so make sure you are doing the one that’s best for you as they are all pretty different. Jayne Nicholls at Group X Training, is here to help as I feel massively out of my depth!
Jayne says, “there are a tonne of options out there and a lot of different yoga styles to consider. Followers, known as yogis, should choose the one that best suits their lifestyle. But for a newbie, all these different practices and styles of yoga can be pretty confusing! To save you some time (and a headache) we’ve compiled a list of five popular styles of yoga and broken them down for you to help you understand their differences, and more importantly, help you decide which one is best for you.
What Is Hatha Yoga?
Hatha yoga is one of the most common styles practiced in the UK. Classes tend to be well balanced, with a structured sequence of poses (asanas) and a good dose of relaxation/meditation thrown in at the end.
The main focus is on improving posture and body alignment through the various asanas, and classes are often relatively slow paced and gentle. Students of Hatha yoga are asked to focus solely on what they are doing within the class, enabling the mind to relax alongside the body as muscle tensions are released throughout the asana sequences.
Is Hatha Yoga Right For Me?
Hatha is a good place to start for complete yoga beginners. It encompasses three of the eight ‘limbs’ of yoga; the asanas (poses), pratyahara (relaxation/meditation) and pranayama (controlled breathing). If you are looking for a yoga style that will challenge you (without being too strenuous), relieve tired/sore muscles and help you to relax your mind then Hatha yoga is right for you.
Bikram or Hot Yoga
What Is Bikram Yoga?
Bikram yoga, or hot yoga, is a modern style of yoga based on traditional Hatha techniques, created and popularised by Bikram Choudhury in the early 1970s. The key aspect of this style is that it consists of a set sequence of twenty-six asanas that are performed in a heated room (40℃).
The idea is that performing yoga in a hot environment induces profuse sweating that will help ‘cleanse the body of toxins’ and loosen muscles allowing for greater flexibility. The ‘Bikram Yoga’ brand can be taught only by Bikram-certified teachers, who have completed nine weeks of training endorsed by Choudhury. However, in recent years other hot yoga options have become available that are not bound by the strict rules and dialogue of official Bikram classes.
Is Hot Yoga Right For Me?
Whether it’s an official Bikram yoga class or a different hot yoga option, the principles remain the same — Hatha yoga performed in a hot environment. For the uninitiated, hot yoga is hard, especially for us Brits that generally aren’t used to hot temperatures or humidity. If you’re one of those people that likes the idea of a sauna but in practice lasts about 30 seconds, then hot yoga probably isn’t going to be your cup of tea! However, many that practice it on a regular basis claim countless benefits including weight loss, increased strength and flexibility, improved mental strength and even a better skin complexion. So, if you think you can handle the heat and you don’t mind a good sweat session then Bikram yoga might be right for you.
What Is Kundalini Yoga?
Kundalini yoga focuses on the meditative aspects of yoga with an emphasis on relaxation and deep breathing. The word ‘kundalini’ means coiled and this style of yoga was designed to ‘awaken’ the energy within the body that is visualised as a coiled snake at the base of the spine.
Kundalini is a more spiritual practice of yoga which aims to heighten awareness, consciousness and spiritual strength. Classes will usually begin with a mantra (chanting) followed by one or two kriyas (a series of poses designed to focus on a specific area of the body). Each class will be different depending on the chosen kriya and poses are held for long, intense periods in conjunction with guided breathing techniques.
Is Kundalini Yoga Right For Me?
If you’re interested in gaining spiritual awareness and learning good meditation techniques then kundalini yoga is a good place to start. It’s ideal for those that want to alleviate stress, ease low mood or balance their emotional wellbeing. It’s also great for people that crave variety as classes change regularly depending on the chosen kriya.
What Is Ashtanga Yoga?
Ashtanga yoga, or ashtanga vinyasa, is a very physically challenging, fast-paced and intense style of yoga. It requires a good level of fitness and has become popular in recent years because of the athletic demands of the practice.
Popularised in the 20th century by Pattabhi Jois, the ashtanga style consists of a set series of poses that are always performed in the same order. The focus is on individual mastery of the poses with an emphasis on building stamina and flexibility.
Is Ashtanga Yoga Right For Me?
You need to have a good level of fitness already and be in good health (be injury-free) to practice ashtanga yoga. It is a very physically demanding style and is best suited to those that are looking for a proper yoga workout.
Freestyle Fitness Yoga
What Is Freestyle Fitness Yoga?
Freestyle Fitness Yoga (FFY) is an integrated fitness and yoga programme which has evolved over the last fifteen years, incorporating stretch, strength and yoga postures to form a complete fitness workout. This style of yoga concentrates on movement, breathing, transitions from one posture to another and progression.
A mindful method of teaching is adopted that reflects the Buddhist traditions of yoga in a more contemporary and social environment. There is no dogma, chanting or use of Sanskrit terms, as postures are prescribed from a modern fitness perspective. During FFY moves and postures can be sequenced together to the beat of the music making transitions seamless and graceful.
Is Freestyle Fitness Yoga Right For Me?
Freestyle Fitness Yoga has been designed to cater for everyone, no matter what your current level of fitness may be. Anyone taking part in an FFY class can expect to improve their strength and flexibility, seeing the benefits within eight weeks. You will learn how to understand your body and begin to move more effectively and efficiently, improving your posture, self-awareness and confidence.”
Bio: Jayne Nicholls is the founder and director of Group X Training, creator of ‘Freestyle Fitness Yoga’, and a writer and pioneer. Jayne has spent a lifetime moving to music and has been in the industry for 25 years. She has worked as a fitness presenter, has a permanent column in Fitpro magazine and writes for several other publications on a regular basis.
In her role as Director of Group X Training, Jayne now helps others “be the best that they can be” by providing the very best training and industry standard qualifications in Yoga & Fitness. If you would like to take your yoga practice a step further and see how you could make your passion your profession, why not consider training to become a fully qualified yoga instructor?