To celebrate International Yoga Day, we’ve got Suzi Baker – Myprotein PR Manager by day and yoga instructor by night – to share her guide to the six most popular styles of the practice, and to explain the jargon that comes alongside them.
The traditional one
Focusing on the breath and correct posture of those practicing, Hatha is the traditional form of yoga, from which the foundations for all other yoga styles have been created. From beginners to advanced practitioners and everyone in between, Hatha yoga is suitable for all.
A traditional Hatha class will begin with meditation and then move on to sun and moon salutations, which generate heat within the body. This will then be followed by a series of asanas (read: postures) including standing, balancing, seated, forward bends, backbends and twists. The final sequence traditionally includes an inversion, usually in the form of a candle or headstand.
The disciplined one
Founded back in the 1970s, this style of yoga pays heavy attention on correct alignment and discipline within the asanas. Students of this style of yoga are often extremely devoted to their practice and the precision and discipline required to practice Iyengar yoga is certainly not suited to all.
An Iyengar class often begins by chanting the invocation to Patanjali to honour the ancient tradition of yoga and the lineage of yoga that is practiced. Instructors will also encourage the use of props to assist students in each posture. Chairs, straps and blocks are commonly used to support the body in various asanas and help students reach the correct pose until they can do so unaided.
The flowing one
Vinyasa yoga is one of the most popular styles practiced in the western world. It is an energetic style of yoga which incorporates traditional Hatha asanas but joins them together in a flowing series to generate heat and connect with the breath.
If you’re looking to increase your flexibility and strength but also want to feel like you’ve had a challenging workout, Vinyasa could be the style for you as the variation and order of the asanas can be adapted during each and every class.
The strength one
The main difference between this style of yoga and others is that Ashtanga yoga practices the same order and sequence of asanas in every class, taking an experienced yogi around 90 minutes to complete the full series.
Ashtanga students are known to be extremely well-disciplined, motivated and spiritual in their practice as it is also the only style whereby students observe moon days. This means the days of the new and full moon are taken as rest.
The hot one
Also created in the early 1970s, Bikram is a sequence of 26 yoga poses to stretch and strengthen the muscles which are performed in a heated room to facilitate the release of toxins.
Bikram yoga is a physical practice so there is little focus on breath or meditation. Whilst this means you may not find it particularly soothing, any class you attend – anywhere in the world – will follow the same sequence of 26 poses.
The relaxing one
Yin is a passive, soothing and deeply restorative form of yoga in which students may practice just 4- – 5 asanas in each class. Sound easy? Not when you’re holding each asana for up to ten minutes it isn’t.
This style is a great practice for the evenings, working deep into the connective tissues of the body, releasing stress and tension. If you’re looking to calm your mind and switch off before bed, or you’ve been working at a desk for long hours, this style can be easily practiced at home.