September is a great month to set new intentions. The holidays are over and (hopefully) we feel recharged and ready to start the new season with anticipation and renewed enthusiasm.
If you are thinking about trying yoga this autumn, I put together a short guide of the most ‘popular’ styles. And talking about intention, what a better one than starting a practice that is good for your mind, body and spirit?
Whether you decide to join a yoga class to feel better, develop more compassion, gain strength, lose weight, become more mindful, manage stress, relieve pain or any other reasons, there sure is a style for you.
To dip your feet and get a good stretch… Hatha Yoga
What it is: Most yoga classes will incorporate some Hatha yoga postures. You probably won’t work up an almighty sweat in a hatha yoga class, but you should end up leaving class feeling longer, looser, and more relaxed.
What makes it different: It’s a great way to start practicing yoga. When a class is marketed as Hatha, it generally means that you will get a gentle introduction to the most basic yoga postures.
Good for: Beginners who haven’t tried yoga before or yogis that enjoy holding poses for slightly longer to really feel the benefit.
Try it when you feel: Curious and you’ve never tried yoga before.
To enjoy some good flows and transitions… Vinyasa Yoga
What it is: Vinyasa yoga classes are known for their fluid, movement-intensive practices They also often feature smooth transitions from pose to pose, with the intention of linking breath to movement, and often play music to keep things lively.
What makes it different: No two vinyasa yoga classes are the same. If you hate routine and love to test your physical limits, vinyasa yoga may be just your ticket.
Good for: An all-rounder yoga practice perfect for beginners and experts alike.
Try it when you feel: in the mood for being surprised and learn something new.
To get sweaty, set sequence… Ashtanga Yoga
What it is: Ashtanga yoga synchronises breath, postures and drishti (gaze point) to create a dynamic, flowing practice that builds internal heat.
What makes it different: The sequence is the same every time. Once you learn it, you can really concentrate on the breath work and on the flow.
Good for: Building strength while calming the mind.
Try it when you’re feeling: The need for a good sweat and not think about anything.
To challenge yourself or to try something new… Dharma Yoga
What it is: A challenging and dynamic yoga style named after classical Hatha-Raja yoga master, Sri Dharma Mittra. Most poses are held for a longer period of time than in a typical Vinyasa class – especially backbends, which adds a level of difficulty. The headstand is considered the king of Dharma yoga poses and you’ll usually encounter many variations of it in a class.
What makes it different: In a dharma yoga class you’ll also always be guided to lead with the left side of the body (except in twists).
Good for: Deepening your own practice, as teachers are encouraged to only give essential cues for each pose.
Try it when you are feeling: That you need an energising practice that will restore clarity of thinking. Or when you really enjoy being upside down.
To feel zen… Yin Yoga
What it is: Yin yoga involves long held poses that are designed to help you release deeper into each posture, relaxing muscular tension and lengthening connective tissues.
What makes it different: Poses are held for anywhere between 2-10 minutes, and props like bolsters, blankets, blocks and straps are often incorporated.
Good for: reconnecting with your body and breath and slowing down thoughts.
Try it when you’re feeling: anxious or restless.