Starting guide to yogaJuliette Sanders
One of the biggest hurdles to starting yoga is figuring out what kind of yoga you want to do. It’s confusing because there are quite a wide variety of options available and than a numerous amount of variations on these options. The class of teacher A might be completely different to the same class given by teacher B. Ah. Oh.
When I started yoga about 15 years ago, I remember I was more or less able to choose between Hatha classes and Power or Ashtanga. My first class in Thailand was everything but a success (let’s say there was a lot of sighing on very smelly yogamats) but I got hooked when I tried the Ashtanga class by Johan Noorloos, and after a year or 2 found more deepening in a more ‘simple’ and down to earth Hatha class. What you like today, might be different to what you like tomorrow.
As a quick guide I have made a short list of the main yogatypes that most yogatypes relate to in one way or another. Just ask the studio what class they would advice if they offer different classes as the name might be the biggest difference. And of course there are differences but these are so subtle that you won’t notice as a beginner.
Hatha yoga. You can keep your shirt on because you probably won’t sweat. Easy and best practice to start with as you will learn the basic poses. Might contain a big deal of meditation and breathing exercises (prayanama).
Vinyasa yoga. Also referred to as flow yoga as it connects the movements to the breath. Core vinyasa is a class that focuses on the core. Slow vinyasa I would say could be similar to Hatha and Vinyasa flow might be similar to power. Many variations exist. Don’t be fooled by all these names… Just try and pick your favourite.
Asthanga. Ashtanga is a fast-paced, intense, flowing style of yoga and always follows the same series of poses. This practice is very physically demanding. Very challenging but after a while a bit boring (because of these same sequences).
Power yoga. The name explains. This is yoga for fitgirls. Be prepared to sweat a lot. Based on Asthanga yoga but always different sequences depending on the teacher. Poweryoga is also similar to vinyasa flow.
Hot yoga. Yoga in a heated room. Can be anything (hatha / vinyasa whatever) but since the room is heated you’ll definitely sweat.
Bikram yoga. Is hot yoga but like Asthanga follows a similar sequence of postures all the time.
Yin yoga/restorative yoga. Not completely the same, but both classes known for postures that you have to keep for minutes! Which sounds easy, but is extremely challenging. We think Yin yoga is a great addition to vinyasa styles.
Kundalini. Yoga for hard core yogi’s with focus on the breath in conjunction with physical movements. Personally not my cup of tea and not much on offer anyways.
Now again. So many more variations exist but a dog head down is a dog head down. Some classes focus a lot on meditation and breathing exercises, some don’t. Some classes focus on alignment, some classes on slow or fast pacing. All I can say is just try!! Go to as many classes as possible and see which one you like. Another good idea would be to taking a beginners course or to going on a yoga holiday to learn the basics fast. That will make you get more out of the classes and enjoy them better. If you don’t have many options in the neighbourhood, try online yoga e.g. www.ekhartyoga.com. Be creative and enjoy your nose to chin :-)!