Yoga is a practice that is suitable for nearly any age and fitness level. It has been found to improve strength and balance, while also reducing stress and improving mood. With so many health benefits and a variety of styles to choose from, it seems that it would be easy to incorporate yoga into your life.
Don’t worry if you feel daunted by the many styles and studios out there. Yoga is meant to help you develop a connection with your own body, and the best way to do that is to dive right in.
What to Consider When Starting Yoga: Different Types of Yoga
There are several different types of yoga and the type that you choose will depend on what you are looking for in a practice. For example, one may be drawn to an active yoga class, while another may prefer a more restorative class.
With that in mind, here are the common yoga types you should know:
Hatha – Commonly practiced in a group setting, Hatha Yoga is a great place to start for beginners. Hatha focuses on movement, flexibility, and breathing. A class will typically involve a sequence of physical postures and breathing techniques practiced more slowly than a Vinyasa flow class. This form of yoga is also great for those looking to start a routine that includes physical and mental relaxation.
Ashtanga – A highly structured practice with a set sequence of postures. There are five Ashtanga Asana series, and you must master every pose of the first series before moving onto the next. The practice is identical from day to day, and it takes most people years to move up a level. Ashtanga Yoga came to the west through students of Sri Pattabi Jois. The ultimate purpose of the Ashtanga practice is purification of the body and mind.
Power Yoga – with its roots in the Ashtanga series, Power Yoga is a fluid breath-synchronized practice. Students work through a series of poses and like Ashtanga, moving smoothly from one posture to the next. Your experience in class will be influenced by the teacher as they have the freedom to craft unique sequences for each class. Expect an environment that’s challenging yet honours everyone’s journey.
Iyengar – Developed and named after B.K.S Iyengar in the 1960s, Iyengar Yoga is a slow-paced style of yoga, focusing on precision and alignment. Students are encouraged to find their own level and the practice is adaptable for all ages and abilities. You’ll learn breath control, how to adjust and align the body correctly and how to support your practice with props.
Hot Yoga – Hot Yoga is any style of yoga practiced in a heated room. Exercising in the heat increases your heart rate and makes the body work harder. It also allows you to move deeper into stretches enhancing your flexibility. The hot and humid environment is great for flushing toxins out of your body and forces you to breathe better and deeper.
Kundalini Yoga – Kundalini Yoga is a combination of breath, movement, and sound. Through the practice of Kundalini, coiled up vital energy is brought up our spine, through the seven chakras, and out the crown of our head. This practice incorporates meditation, energy, breathing, chanting and the use of mantras. It is a spiritual form of yoga that is great for those looking for a practice that includes more than just physical benefits.
The Key Elements of Yoga – What Should You Expect?
Whatever style of yoga calls to you, there are basic elements that are common to every yoga class. These elements include:
Warm-up – The warm-up is an essential part of a yoga class. It helps to prepare the body for the rest of the class and should be done slowly and with intention.
Posture – This is a key part of any yoga class. It is important to be aware of the position of your body and to make sure that it is in alignment while you are in the class and after the class as well.
Breathing – Another essential part of any yoga class. The breathing should be slow and focused throughout the class and after the class.
Relaxation – At the end of the class, the instructor will help students relax and release their bodies. This can be done through a simple guided meditation.
The Bottom Line: Starting Your Journey to a Healthier Lifestyle with Yoga
Once you have chosen your style of yoga, taking the first leap is the hardest part. Once you get into it, you will find the practice leads to a myriad of benefits both physical and emotional. You don’t have to be flexible to start yoga but continuing a yoga practice can help to improve flexibility and balance in your life.
Are You Looking for a Yoga Class in London?
The Power Yoga Co. is a friendly, welcoming yoga studio in London. Whether you are just starting out or are an advanced practitioner, we have a class for you!