Different types of yoga and the benefits you’ll get
Popular types of Yoga Asana
There are many different types of yoga, and new styles and variants cropping up all the time! Looking back in history shows us that the ‘style’ of yoga practice has endlessly changed and reinvented itself, along with the cultural shifts of wider society. Yogis from times past did not have sticky mats, and might be surprised by some of the funkier poses in a modern vinyasa flow class! As the form of practice has shifted and changed, the underlying philosophical principles of yoga have stayed much the same, handed down from one generation to the next, and it is this ‘authentic’ yoga which we do our best to keep alive at Yogasara. Yoga can help us to explore the deeper questions of existence and to find renewed inspiration and purpose for life. Finding a style and teacher that works for you is a very personal decision. Most of all we advise you to follow your intuition, and look for classes that catch your eye or you have a gut feeling may be right for you! And nothing beats trial and error to find the right class for you 🙂 We also set out here a brief description of some of the style of yoga we offer at Yogasara Bristol, to help you with your choice:
Here’s a look at some popular types of yoga
Not a brand or method developed by an individual, this term is generally used as a catch-all term for physical yoga.
Hatha Yoga is typically used as an umbrella term to describe many of the most common forms of yoga taught in the West today. In a typical Hatha Yoga class, you will usually learn classical yoga postures, breathing techniques, relaxation methods and meditation. It is sometimes gentler / less dynamic than a ‘Vinyasa‘ class, depending on the teacher. Usually the classes aim to achieve an overall calming effect and feeling of well-being and develop a practitioners physical strength, flexibility and awareness.
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga
Types of yoga practice developed by Pattabhi Jois and Krishnamacharya
Ashtanga vinyasa yoga a system of Hatha yoga that synchronises breath and movement in a flowing sequence of asanas (postures). Each asana has a unique choreographed number of movements (Vinyasas) to transition into and out of it. Practises start with Sun Salutations and then move through a series of postures – beginning with the primary series and then progressing to second series and more with more challenging asanas (although primary series is challenging enough for most!). Ashtanga yoga is a challenging practice, and encourages commitment and consistent regular practice. It is philosophically underpinned by the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the 8-limbs of yoga.
Vinyasa Flow or Hatha Flow Yoga
Contemporary practice style inspired by Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga and other traditions.
Vinyasa flow (sometimes just ‘vinyasa’) yoga is a creative form of yoga where poses are linked together with the breath in a flowing sequence, commonly accompanied by music. The linking of breath and movement can create the experience of a ‘moving meditation’, allowing the mind to become calm and still. The beauty of Vinyasa flow yoga is the variety. Teachers draw on inspiration from many walks of life and spiritual traditions, each offering their own unique exploration. Classes may be sequenced around a peak pose such as a backbend, or they might focus on a particular theme such as the Chakras or an aspect of yoga philosophy. The class may be dynamic and focus on strengthening postures, or it may be a slower flow with an emphasis on mobility and flexibility. Hatha flow yoga is typically slightly slower and gentler than Vinyasa flow but it depends on the teacher. There are many variations in the naming of classes – In-Flow, Soulful Flow, Embodied Flow. Each of these describes the teacher’s own unique expression of the Vinyasa Flow form. Our Vinyasa flow teachers teach with ‘kramic’ principles, born from the teaching method taught on our teacher trainings – Krama Vinyasa Yoga Tantra. Classes with a ‘kramic’ approach (including those described as Krama Vinyasa or similar) focus both on sequencing, progressing from simple to complex asanas, and on adapting asanas, through providing options / modification, to the right level of challenge for your body.
Yoga method developed by Paulie Zinc based on martial art training and Hatha yoga
Yin classes include long holds in a pose (2-5 mins), often using bricks and bolsters. The use of long holds encourages a parasympathetic nervous system response, promoting deep relaxation. Yin sequences are sometimes offered within a class that includes more dynamic (‘yang’) asanas.
Restorative yoga is a general term used to offer a more gentle class often using props such as bolsters and blankets to support some of the poses. It is typically a slow class where poses are held for a long time, often longer than in a ‘yin’ class. The focus is often on unwinding and relaxation to help restore you from the stresses of everyday life.
Pregnancy or Pre-natal Yoga
Yoga that has been adapted to be able to be practiced safely throughout the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, prepare for the birthing process and for motherhood. Pregnancy yoga is taught by teachers are specially trained and can provide physical and psychological support, promote calmness and relaxation thoughout, help alleviate some of the discomforts of pregnancy, and support you to have an active and healthy pregnancy. Some teachers are more focused on birth preparation, others more on pregnancy support (some focus on both). Pregnancy yoga is generally taught in specialist groups, however pregnant women can also attend general yoga classes as long as the teacher is skilled in adapting the class to suit pregnancy. Check with the teacher first before going.
Yoga can be extremely helpful in addressing a wide range of health conditions, but it must be applied with careful consideration towards the person wishing to practice it. The practice of yoga will be individualised for them, and it is typically taught in a one-to-one setting or in very small group classes. Postures will be carefully explored and introduced and gradually the yoga practice will develop to work towards the aims of the practitioner. This way of teaching yoga requires greater skill and experience than a usual group class teacher and special training is very beneficial. The teacher and the student will work together to figure out what is the best approach to yoga practice and typically home practice is required by the student to gain the benefits.
Yoga approach brought to the west by Yogi Bhajan
Kundalini yoga class typically involves dynamic asana, breath techniques, guided meditations, chanting and singing. Kundalini focuses more on the ‘spiritual’ aspects of yoga – the link between mind and body, Chakras, and your relationship with the Divine. Its philosophical underpinning originates from a synthesis of many traditions including hatha yoga, tantric yoga, and typically includes some esoteric teachings. & lots more… All of our classes are taught by Yoga teachers who share our values – that your Yoga journey is a profound path for wellbeing, healing and transformation. We all do our utmost to share this with passion and integrity, to support you on your yoga journey. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the different types of yoga and their benefits. Take a look at our timetable and try out a class that feels right for you. We look forward to seeing you at a class soon!