Hatha? Yin? What are these words? They're different types of yoga––and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s go over some of the different types of yoga you might encounter before sending you into your practice. Whether you have a gym membership, a class pack to a yoga studio, or prefer to practice in the comfort of your own home (we’re partial to the yoga classes in the 8fit app!), it’s important to know which style of yoga suits your preferences and needs.
To figure it out, ask yourself: What do I want to get out of my yoga practice? Are you looking to reduce stress, meditate, stretch, or sweat? Do you like constant movement or would you prefer to hold a pose for a prolonged period? Read about each style below to decide what might work best for you.
Why yoga? Check out these 8 health benefits of yoga.
Bikram yoga or hot yoga
If you like the sound of Ashtanga, you might like Bikram too. Every Bikram class features the same 90-minute sequence of poses, so you’ll always know what’s coming your way. One of the key differences you have guessed from the name – the classroom is very warm (usually around 105° F with 40% humidity). Similar to Bikram, but with less rigidity, are general hot yoga classes, which is typically a vinyasa style flow. Heated yoga classes warm the body quickly, allowing you to move with power and deepen your postures right from the get-go.
Hatha yoga classes are great for beginners because they are generally slower-paced than other styles of yoga. If it’s your first time trying yoga, start with hatha to be exposed to the physical postures, with some spirituality and meditation trickled in.
HIIT Yoga is a recent adaptation to yoga, combining the ancient practice with the modern craze for high-intensity interval training. A HIIT Yoga workout is basically what it sounds like––a mix of yoga poses broken up by HIIT exercises, like mountain climbers or high-knees.
We’ll be delivering a HIIT Yoga workout to you shortly. In the meantime, you can learn everything you need to know about HIIT training here.
Founded by B.K.S. Iyengar, this type of yoga focuses on alignment and precision. In an Iyengar class, expect to be physically challenged as your instructor helps you perfect postures and get deeper into each one. You’ll use props like blocks, yoga straps, blankets and even ropes attached to the wall as tools to bring your body into the correct alignment.
If you’re looking for a more spiritual, yet still physical, practice, Kundalini style is worth checking out. The practice balances the spiritual with the physical practice and focuses on releasing the “kundalini energy” that’s trapped in the body. Expect to move fast, do a lot of core work, and try different pranayama exercises. Oh, and don’t be surprised if there is some chanting, singing or meditating.
Moms, this one’s for you! Whether you have an existing yoga practice or not, it’s valuable to seek out a prenatal yoga class if you have a baby on the way. Your prenatal yoga instructor will explain which poses and exercises are safe to do as your pregnancy progresses and also help you learn very valuable breathing exercises for 1) Labor and, 2) Parenting.
Restorative yoga is just that — restorative. In a classic restorative class, you’ll use props like blankets, pillows, straps, and blocks to ease your body into more relaxing postures that release tension gently and slowly. In a 60 or 90-minute restorative class, expect to only do a handful of postures and spend a lot of time meditating or doing breathing exercises.
Another style that is great for beginners is yin yoga. Yin is a slow-paced style of yoga with many seated postures that are held for longer periods of time (i.e., several minutes). If you’re looking for a good stretch, yin yoga is the place to be! Let gravity do most of the work, and you’ll leave class feeling extremely relaxed.
Vinyasa yoga targets the stiffness and tightness in our bodies brought on by all the sitting we do in modern society. The style and sequencing can vary slightly depending on the studio or instructor, but most vinyasa flows are quite athletic and aim to increase yogis’ strength and flexibility. In a vinyasa yoga class, expect to move fluidly and use the breath to connect each posture to the next — it’s like a dance! Then, once the body is warm, expect to hold deep stretches for a longer period of time.