7 Popular Styles of Yoga Explained

Updated: Jul 5, 2020

Not sure what kind of yoga to try? We've broken down a few popular styles below to help you decide.


You’ve always wanted to give yoga a try, and you’ve finally decided to go for it! Maybe you want to attend a class on the advice of a friend, or a doctor. Awesome! Now what?


Well, if you’re like me, you probably start off by heading to Dr. Google and typing something like, “yoga classes near me”. A huge list generates and you scroll through your options getting more and more confused. Ashtanga? Flow yoga? Do I want Yin or do I want Vinyasa? Yoga overlords, help!!!


Unfortunately, I’m not a yoga overlord (they never returned my letters) but I can definitely give you a run down of the different popular types of yoga, and tips on how to choose the best class for you.


If you’re new to yoga, check out our free guide for beginners to jump start your yoga practice!


Ready to learn? Kick off your shoes, and let’s dive in!



ASHTANGA

Pace: Fast

Best for: Yogis who crave structure and challenge.

There are 6 series in Ashtanga Yoga, and the Ashtangi (person who practices Ashtanga Yoga) must master one series before being taught the next level. An Ashtanga practice is challenging, but orderly. In Mysore classes (a subset of Ashtanga) the class is not led by a teacher, but yogis move through their sequence at their own pace.


BIKRAM

Pace: Moderate

Best for: Yogis who love to sweat, and who love consistency.

Yogis practice in the “hot room”, which is kept at 105 degrees and 40% humidity. It’s hot, it’s sweaty, and depending on the studio, sometimes smelly. A Bikram class includes a 26 pose series, and 2 breath exercises. The instructor will lead the class through each pose twice. It can be intense for beginners, but it’s easy to catch on to the never changing sequence.


HATHA

Pace: Slow

Best for: Beginners and those who prefer a slow practice.

In Hatha yoga, teachers can be creative with their sequencing and spend more time correcting alignment. Yogis hold Hatha poses for several breaths in this slow practice.


IYENGAR

Pace: Slow

Best for: Yogis who love alignment cues and anatomy.

Yogis use props (blocks, blankets, straps, etc) in Iyengar classes to find correct alignment and a safe range of motion. The teacher will give precise alignment cues, and students develop a greater understanding of their own anatomy.


RESTORATIVE

Pace: Slowest

Best for: Those who need some good ol’ R&R.

Restorative Yoga is an opportunity to give yourself some tender love and care. Yogis use props such as blankets and bolsters to open the body and release stress. All postures are performed seated or lying down, and are held for up to 10 minutes. Warning! You will leave feeling completely relaxed.


VINYASA

Pace: Fast

Best for: Yogis who like an athletic practice, and creative sequencing.

Vinyasa, or Flow Yoga, is arguably the most popular type of yoga in the US. Some studios offer heated Vinyasa classes in a room of 80-95 degrees. Other Vinyasa classes are non-heated, but still rigorous. In a Vinyasa style class, teachers lead their yogis through creative sequences that link breath with movement.


YIN

Pace: Slowest

Best for: Those who need to balance a vigorous exercise, and those who have limited flexibility.

In a Yin Yoga class, yogis will hold seated postures for 2-5 minutes to target deep connective tissues, joints, and fascia. Yin is often explained as a restorative type of yoga, however, it is still an active practice. “Active” in the sense that your body is working in each pose, even though you are not moving.



Everyone has their own favorite style, but I highly recommend practicing a few different types of yoga for a well rounded practice. Not only will this give you variety in your practice, but it will push you outside of your comfort zone.


If you typically enjoy fast paced, athletic exercises, you probably need a restorative class now and then. Give yourself permission to try something unfamiliar!

Lucky for you, we offer Vinyasa, Hatha, Restorative, and Yin classes in the Compass Yoga virtual studio! Try them out and see what feels good in your body. Before you practice, brush up on the 10 words to know before taking your first class.


Have a good practice!!


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