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What Yoga Class is Best for Me?

You’ve decided to embark on your yoga journey or decided to venture into different styles of yoga. Perhaps after Googling classes in your area, your head is spinning. Should you try Ashtanga or Yin? And what’s the difference between hot yoga and Bikrum? It can be overwhelming! It’s important to remember that yoga isn’t necessarily a ‘one-size-fits-all’ practice. Different types of yoga might be best for different people. So let’s take a look at some of the different styles of yoga:

1. Hatha Yoga

It’s a slower moving class that requires you to hold each pose for a few breaths. In many studios, hatha classes are considered a gentler form of yoga.

Best for: Beginners due to its slower pace

2. Vinyasa Yoga

Get your flow on in this dynamic practice that links movement and breath together in a dance-like way. In most classes, you won’t stay too long in each pose and the pace can be quick, so be prepared for your heart rate to rise. Teachers will play music, matching the beats to the sequences of the poses.

Best for: Anyone who loves a faster pace. Runners and endurance athletes are also drawn to Vinyasa class because of the continuous movement.

3. Lyengar Yoga

Here you’ll get precision and detail, as well as your body’s alignment in each pose. Props such as yoga blocks, bolsters, blankets and straps are used to help you to work within a range of motion that is safe and effective. Unlike in Vinyasa, each posture is held for a period of time. If you’re new to lyengar, even if you’ve practiced other types of yoga, it’s good to start with a level one class to familiarize yourself with the technique.

Best for: Detail-oriented yogis. Teachers share a wealth of information during class. Lyengar can also be practiced at any age and is great for those with injuries.

4. Ashtanga Yoga

If you’re looking for a challenge, try Ashtanga. Consisting of six series of specifically sequenced yoga poses, you’ll flow and breathe through each pose to build internal heat. You’ll perform the same poses in the exact same order in each class.

Best for: If you’re a perfectionist, you’ll like Ashtanga’s routine and strict guidelines.

5. Bikram Yoga

Prepare to sweat! Bikram consists of a specific series of 26 poses and two breathing exercises practiced in a room heated to approximately 40 degrees cellulous and 40 percent humidity. All Bikram studios practice the same 90-minute sequence so you’ll know exactly what to do once you unroll your mat

Best for: People who gravitate toward a set routine. Those who are newer to yoga might like Bikram because of its predictable sequence and anyone who likes to sweat it out!

6. Hot Yoga

Hot yoga is similar to Bikram in that it’s practiced in a heated room. But teachers aren’t constrained by the 26-pose Bikram sequence. While the heat will make you feel like you can move deeper into some poses compared to a non-heated class, it can be easy to overstretch, so don’t push beyond your capacity.

Best for: If you love a tough workout that will leave you drenched, sign up for a beginner-friendly heated class.

7. Kundalini Yoga

Celebrity devotees including actor Russell Brand and author Gabrielle Bernstein have given Kundalini a cult-like following. Yet, this physically and mentally challenging practice looks very different from your typical yoga class.

Best for: People looking for a spiritual practice. Those who are seeking something more than a workout may enjoy Kundalini due to its emphasis on the internal aspects of yoga, including breath work, meditation and spiritual energy.

8. Yin Yoga

If you want to calm and balance your body and mind, this is where you’ll find your zen. The opposite of a faster moving practice like Ashtanga, Yin yoga poses are held for several minutes at a time. This meditative practice is designed to target your deeper connective tissues and fascia, restoring length and elasticity. You’ll use props so your body can release into the posture instead of actively flexing or engaging the muscles. Like meditation, it may make you feel antsy at first, but stick with it for a few classes and its restorative powers might have you hooked.

Best for: People who need to stretch and unwind. Keep in mind, Yin yoga is not recommended for people who are super flexible (you might overdo it in some poses.

9. Restorative Yoga

While it may feel like you’re not doing much in a restorative yoga class…that’s the point. The mellow, slow-moving practice with longer holds gives your body a chance tap into your parasympathetic nervous system, allowing you to experience deeper relaxation. You’ll also use a variety of props including blankets, bolsters and yoga blocks to fully support your body in each pose.

Best for: Everyone. In particular, anyone who has a hard time slowing down, who has experienced insomnia or who struggles with anxiety. It’s also great for athletes on recovery days.

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Susan Perry

Based in Marbella, Spain and originally from Australia, Susan holds a RYT 200 hours certification with Yoga Alliance and is currently completing her 500 hours. Susan teachers Vinyasa, Yin Yoga, Yoga Nidra and Pilates. With an emphasis on balancing the physical, mental and emotional state through a guided practice.

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