Do you feel overwhelmed trying to find out which type of yoga is right for you? I know I did when I first started looking at the huge amount of different styles of yoga classes to attend.
There are so many styles of yoga to choose from and new ones seem to pop up every day.
I’ve tried out A LOT of different types of yoga. I’ve taken classes with so many different teachers too. All because I wanted to try to figure out which type of yoga was the right one for me.
Hopefully this post will help you get closer to finding out which type (or types) of yoga might fit you and your needs best.
I created this flow chart to help you find the type of yoga that’s right for you. I’m by no means saying that this is a definitive guide to choose a yoga style because it all depends on the yoga teacher and the specific class you happen to join.
Not only restorative yoga can be de-stressing and relazing (although it’s the main focus of restorative yoga). All types of yoga can, depending on how you, as an individual, respond to them.
You can build up a sweat from other yoga styles than vinyasa and ashtanga yoga. Those are just the two styles of yoga, which are known for being more dynamic than the rest.
So just take this as a helpful guide to shine a light in the right direction, but don’t let it stop you from trying out different yoga styles for yourself to discover what you like!
I also wrote a free ebook on how to start a fulfilling, independent yoga self-practice! Every day for one week there’s a new topic and a challenge to help you get started practicing yoga in your own home. You can get the ebook straight to your inbox, by signing up here:
Styles of yoga
Hatha yoga is a style of yoga that will help you improve your strength, flexibility and balance. In hatha yoga the poses and movements are linked to the breath. Hatha yoga is alignment based, which means there’s a focus on getting the most out of the poses by aligning different body parts a certain way in each pose.
Hatha yoga is a bit of an umbrella term as many different sub-styles of yoga are rooted in classic hatha yoga. Hatha yoga classes might also include meditation and breathing exercises, so hatha yoga has both physical and mental/emotional benefits.
My two cents on hatha yoga:
Hatha yoga is beginner friendly because the pace of the classes are often slower than many other styles of yoga. Hatha yoga is good for overall health as it affect both your physical and mental well-being. Personally, I sometimes get a little bored in hatha yoga classes, because the sequences of the poses are very traditional and the pace of the class is slower than I would like it to be.
Strala yoga is a yoga style based on principles from natural movement. It’s inspired by movements from tai chi and qigong as well as yoga. Strala yoga is not alignment based meaning that in Strala yoga you’re never just holding a pose in a specific way. The pose is just one point on the way but in Strala yoga you are constantly exploring new places to go and moving with your breath.
Strala yoga is great if you like to move intuitively and exploratively and dislike the strictness of alignment rule based styles of yoga. In Strala yoga everything is approached with ease and softness, teaching you how to go into and out of poses as efficiently and freely as possible. Strala yoga also teaches you to approach life with ease and softness, finding the path of least resistance to achieve hard things.
My two cents on strala yoga:
Strala yoga is great for really getting into the mindset of moving with ease and with as little effort as possible. Once you get into it, it feels super liberating to be able to move in whichever direction you want to go without having any alignment rules holding you back from tuning in to what your body needs and going there. I love doing Strala yoga on days where I really want to tune in to myself and my body. Days where I want to explore non-linear and new movements.
Ashtanga yoga is an alignment based yoga style, which has a set sequence of movements and postures. That means that each time you go to an ashtanga class, the poses will be in exactly the same order. It’s a super dynamic style of yoga where you always move with the breath and stay in the poses for a specific number of breaths.
Ashtanga yoga is in many ways a very rigorous and demanding style of yoga. It also has the potential to become amazingly meditative as you begin to know the sequence by heart and start to really tune in to only your breath and your drishti (the focal point of your gaze – in ashtanga each pose has a specific focal point too).
My two cents on ashtanga yoga:
Ashtanga yoga really teaches you discipline. It is very physically demanding and repetitive, which helps you go into a very meditative state when you become familiar with the sequence. For me, this meditative state has been unlike anything I’ve experienced with other styles of yoga. I do find that Ashtanga yoga sometimes becomes too rigid and repetitive for me, when I’m in the mood to flow freely and creatively and try out new things.
Iyengar yoga is an alignment based style of yoga. It is rooted in hatha yoga but Iyengar yoga has a much more thorough approach to the poses. Props are used a lot in Iyengar yoga to support you in the poses and assure that you find the correct alignment and therefore reap the full benefits in the poses.
The poses are held for much longer (around 1-3 minutes) than in most yoga styles. This makes you really notice the effect the pose has on your body, gives you time to feel which muscles are working, which are stretching, aso.
My two cents on Iyengar yoga:
Iyengar yoga is absolutely incredible for beginners. The approach is so thorough and slow as you hold and adjust in each pose for a couple of minutes. This makes you build a great foundational understanding of the postures and their benefits. Iyengar yoga teachers have a much longer training than other styles of yoga teachers and this really shows in their classes. I love to go to Iyengar yoga when I want to really go deep into each posture. Of course Iyengar yoga isn’t what you’re looking for on days where you want to flow between postures at a faster pace guided by your breath.
Vinyasa yoga (also known as flow yoga) is a dynamic style of yoga. The movements are linked with the breath like in Ashtanga and Hatha yoga but unlike Ashtanga yoga, Vinyasa yoga has no set sequence of poses. This allows Vinyasa yoga to be much more free and creative in its nature.
Depending on the teacher, you might be exposed to some new and harder poses much sooner than in Ashtanga yoga. Vinyasa helps you build strength, flexibility, and balance. A lot of vinyasa yoga teachers will also offer different variations to the poses, so you can listen in to how difficult you want to make it, class by class.
My two cents on vinyasa yoga:
Vinyasa yoga is FUN! You get to flow between postures guided by your breath. Every class is different and most classes you get to play around with creative transitions, and sometimes inversions and arm balances. You get so much body awareness from exploring all sorts of different movements between postures depending on the teacher. You can probably tell this is my go-to style of yoga, right?
Yin yoga is a very static, passive, and non-strength based style of yoga. Yin yoga is focused on stretching and opening up the body. Each pose is held anywhere from 2-8 minutes because the purpose of yin yoga is to allow enough time in the poses for the tissues such as fascia, joints, and bones to stretch and find more space.
Yin yoga can still be quite intense because you’re staying with the intensity of the stretches for a long time without moving. In yin yoga you have lots of props available to support you in the poses. That helps you stay at your maximum stretch intensity in each pose without having to use muscular activity to stay there.
My two cents on yin yoga:
Yin yoga is TOUGH! Not in a muscular way but staying still in intense stretches without fidgeting – it’s really tests my patience (in a good way). This passive and slow style of yoga can be so valuable to seek out if you’re used to rushing through your day and having a million things to juggle all the time. It’s very calming and can help you find some peace and restfulness.
Restorative yoga is also a quite static form of yoga, where the poses are held for quite some time. Unlike yin yoga, the poses aren’t as intense and stretch focused but there are still often times props available in restorative yoga classes to support you in the poses.
Restorative yoga is very therapeutic in its nature. The classes allow the body to go into rest and restore mode by having very calming sequences of poses and often meditation and breathing exercises too. The main goal of restorative yoga is letting go of tension and to find more peace and calm. It is all about de-stressing and reconnecting with the body.
My two cents on Restorative yoga:
Restorative yoga is great if you need to calm down, relax, and destress. I do find myself getting restless at restorative yoga. It is just a little to light physically. If I’m looking for a de-stressing experience I actually prefer yin yoga because the stretches are a bit more intense, which keep me from zooming out and thinking about a million other things.
I think it is very possible to enjoy several styles of yoga.
I personally really enjoy Ashtanga yoga, Vinyasa yoga, Yin yoga, Iyengar yoga, and Strala yoga. They each have something very different to offer. I seek out different styles of yoga depending on my mood, energy level and needs on any given day.
I hope this helped you get a little clearer on which style of yoga is the best one for you!