Hatha is a general category that includes most yoga styles. It is an old system that includes the practice of asanas (yoga postures) and pranayama (breathing exercises), which help bring peace to the mind and body, preparing the body for deeper spiritual practices such as meditation.. The term hatha is used in such a broad way that it is sometimes difficult to know what to expect however it will be relatively gentle, slow and great for beginners or students who prefer a more relaxed style where they hold poses longer.
Best suited to: Beginners or those wanting a more gentle style of Yoga. That’s not to say that Hatha isn’t challenging, in fact it’s quite the opposite however its at a pace that you can decide how deep you want to go.
Vinyasa is a general term that describes many different styles of yoga. It essentially means movement synchronized with breath and is a vigorous style based on a rapid flow through sun salutations. You may also see a vinyasa class referred to as a flow class, which refers to the continuous flow from one posture to the next.
Best suited to: Intermediate or more experienced practitioners and those who’d like a more vigerous practice, Vinyasa is a great way to tune into to what the instructor is asking you to do and switching of that “every day brain” it is often referred to as moving meditation.
Ashtanga is a system of yoga that was brought to the modern world by Sri K. PattabhiJois. If you attend an ashtanga class at a studio you will be led nonstop through one or more of the ashtanga series, while being encouraged to breathe as you move from pose to pose. Each series is a set sequence of asanas, always in the same order. It is typically fast-paced, vigorous and physically challenging.
Best suited to: Experienced students who have knowledge of the Sanskrit names of poses as the class moves along quickly and the traditional Sanskrit names for the Asana are quite often used. This type of class is well suited to those who like a fast and strong yoga.
Yin yoga is a slow-paced style in which poses are held for five minutes or longer. Even though it is passive, yin yoga can be quite challenging due to the long holds, particularly if your body is not used to it. The purpose is to apply moderate stress to the connective tissue – the tendons, fascia and ligaments – with the aim of increasing circulation in the joints and improving flexibility.
Best suited to: All levels including athletes, this style of yoga is great for getting in deep with those muscles and fascia. As we get older our body starts to “seize up” and Yin is a great way to work through this.
Restorative is a gentle, relaxing, passive style that allows students to relax and release the body into a gentle stretch that is held for as long as 10 minutes. This style makes use of a wide range of props, including bolsters, blocks, straps and blankets. The intention is to provide support within each pose, making it easier to completely leg go.
Best suited to: All levels, Restorative is the best way to wind down for anyone with a busy life. Come in and turn that brain off, let go and totally relax
Beginners classes are based on the Hatha style of Yoga and are the ideal way to get into Yoga. The Instructor will take you through the basics of yoga terminology, poses, alignment and breathing cues. Giving you more confidence to step into a “Main stream” class.
Remember to give yourself a few weeks to settle into the yoga frame of mind. Many beginners give up after a few weeks as they find it boring and or aren’t flexible enough. Part of the magic of Yoga is allowing your mind to find that state where it knows to “switch off” when you step onto the mat, this helps give you the all round benefit of yoga.
And as for not being flexible enough,, yoga is the way you become more flexible. You don’t join a gym if you are already fit do you? No you join a gym to become fit! As with all things this is something that needs to be practiced and does take time. So if you sign up for a Beginners Course please see it to the end and you’ll love the benefits Yoga will bring to your life.
Best suited to: Newbies to Yoga or those who need a bit of a refresher.
Pilates has a focus on the core which can basically be thought of as the ‘powerhouse’ of your body. Your core is the area between your shoulders and your pelvis (without your arms and legs) and encompasses all the muscles within this area. The essential intrinsic core muscles are your Transverse Abdominus, Pelvic Floor and Multifidus muscles which we learn to train as part of the Pilates method.
Because of its core focus, Pilates is popular not only in the field of fitness, but also in rehabilitation. It can be used to progress individuals through movements that represent their day-to-day activities. The focus on strengthening the core and improving postural awareness are especially well indicated for the alleviation and prevention of back, neck and joint pain.
Best suited to: Anyone interested in core stability and rehabilitation.
And please remember when you step into any Yoga class, Yoga is not a competition, so please don’t look at what other people are doing around you. Yoga is a journey and you will get to where you need to be when you body and mind is ready – everything in good time!