The number of different types of physical yoga can be daunting. You may find it hard to decide which type to spend your time and money on, because of the different names, descriptions and benefits. Our advice is to try a few, and stick with it for at lease a few classes. The type of yoga, the teacher and your mood will all affect your experience, so it’s worth ‘shopping around’ to find what works for you. Once you find a type of yoga you like (and we’re sure you will), it can be a transformative experience. To help you, we’ve taken a look at five common types of physical yoga in this article.
This form of yoga follows a set sequence of poses every time, known as the Primary Series. To warm up, the practice starts with a set sequence of poses called Sun Salutations. This is followed by a set of standing poses and a set of seated poses. Each pose is held for a set number of breaths and most are completed for the right side, and then the left side. Part of the Sun Salutation sequence (called a Vinyasa) is completed in between each seated pose. Some of the poses can take a long time to complete, so many classes will modify the sequence, and skip some poses and vinyasas to make the class accessible for all.
Ashtanga yoga can be a physically challenging practice, and the repetition means a practitioner can become familiar quite quickly. Breathing and meditative benefits become your focus, while you complete a physical workout.
Vinyasa yoga is a sequence of different yoga poses, put together to create a new and different flow for each practice. The movement from one pose to another is called a transition. Teachers often use creative ways of transitioning from one pose to another, which makes a sequence feel fluid and dynamic. Downward facing dog is a common yoga pose (you’ve likely heard of it!). It is used as a starting or ending pose for a vinyasa sequence. A ‘vinyasa’ is a short repetitive sequence, which provides a consistent and flowing way to move back to a downward facing dog to end a sequence and start a new one.
A vinyasa class will be different every time, as it provides the teacher an opportunity to be creative. It also means the practitioner can be creative, adding in different transitions and poses they might like to do as part of their own practice. The variation also means the physicality of the class can be changed, making it popular amongst a wide range of experiences and abilities.
The next of the five common types of physical yoga that we will look at is Hot Yoga. As the name suggests, hot yoga takes place in a heated room, which results in a lot of sweating. Poses are either a set sequence or a varying sequence, such as vinyasa. Doing a physical workout in hot and humid conditions can be quite challenging. We therefore recommend taking your time and not pushing yourself too much for your first few classes, until you get used to the heat. The benefits of yoga, and moving between extremes in temperature (similar to a sauna) can be a very transformative experience. This has fuelled the growing popularity of hot yoga.
The last two types of yoga we’re going to describe here are slower, more restorative forms of yoga. These are slower paced but still hugely beneficial.
Yin Yoga is based on holding poses for a longer period of time – often three to five minutes – to focus on increasing circulation and flexibility. Practitioners move from one pose to another, often with a short rest period in between. The slower pace and longer holds bring an increased meditative experience, with time to be still. Often when our bodies stop moving, our minds start moving. Staying focused and present is one of the key challenges and benefits of Yin Yoga.
This type of yoga takes common yoga poses and adapts them using a chair to provide extra support. Chair yoga makes a lot of poses more accessible. This benefits those who can’t easily move from standing to sitting, or who have trouble standing unassisted. It’s also a great way to have a short break from working at a desk, by keeping active without having to disrupt what you’re doing.
Chair yoga classes don’t tend to be as common as other forms of yoga, but with a little research you can usually find a class if you’re flexible (pardon the pun) with where and timings.
We’ve taken a look at five common types of physical yoga in this article. There’s a whole range of different forms of yoga that aren’t covered here. However, you should now have a basic understanding of some of the more common types. Speak to your doctor first before starting out on your yoga journey, as with any new exercise regime. Explore, and let us know what you found out. What types of yoga did you try and what did you think? Let us know in the comments below.