By Andréanne, Founder of Namazé
Hatha, hot yoga, vinyasa, yin … I’m certainly not the only one who was confused the first time I looked at the yoga class schedule at my local studio. This language can quickly become discouraging when you don’t understand what is being said. There are clearly several styles of yoga, each with their own specificities that make them unique. In order to find the style that suits you best, it is important to demystify what types of yoga classes are available to you.
Here are some popular styles that are often found on yoga studio schedules:
Balance and concentration, hatha yoga is a delightful way to harmonize your body, heart and spirit. Traditionally, poses are held a minimum of 5 breaths while both aligning and engaging your body. Taking the time to breathe and delve deep into the poses is essential in this style. Often, we think of this style as one suitable for beginners, but hatha yoga can be pushed one step further with meditation techniques through the poses and breathing. Simply put, hatha yoga balances us.
The hatha flow is a middle ground between hatha and vinyasa. Gentler than the latter, but much more fluid than the former. The poses resemble graceful dancing motions which are performed in harmony with your breathing. Usually, warrior poses are not part of “flow”, but this remains the instructor’s choice. This style of yoga is suitable for all levels.
This style of yoga is dynamic and fluid, each movement is combined with breathing. “Become one with your breath”. Naturally, vinyasa warms the body through its sequences in which muscular engagement is required. Contrary to hatha, in vinyasa there are pose sequences and this style integrates meditation and breathing techniques all in one. This style is usually for intermediate level yogis due to its speed.
This yoga class takes place in a heated room between 37 and 40C, this style can vary from one studio to another. Generally, this is taught in flow style, but some classes differ and can be hot yin yoga for example. In a hot yoga class, you can imagine yourself on a sunny beach or in the Indian jungle, this is precisely what inspired the creation of this yoga style. This style is not recommended for people with health problems or pregnant women.
If you like the gym atmosphere and spirituality isn’t your jam, then power yoga may be right for you. Often heated, this style is very dynamic. The sequences are repetitive and maintain a steady pace.
Yin yoga is a softer style but requires mental silence, which can be challenging. The ground poses are held for 3 to 8 minutes often with tools such as blankets, blocks, straps or bolsters. This style aims for no intentional muscular contraction or alignment, the body is positioned perfectly to attain this naturally. This style of yoga is very complimentary for athletes or anyone with a hectic lifestyle. If your yoga studio schedule offers yin either following vinyasa or a power yoga, doing these sequentially will provide you with a great sense of balance.
Of course, what really differentiates one yoga style from another is the teacher, because they are the ones creating their class from A to Z. If you have already tried yoga and didn’t particularly enjoy your experience, I’d suggest checking which yoga style you tried and perhaps venturing into a new style. There is so much variety in yoga, there is certainly something for everyone.
It’s been a pleasure clarifying the magical language of yoga for you and I look forward to seeing you on a yoga mat!
Andréanne Thibeault, founder of the yoga community Namazé. A yoga teacher and entrepreneur, she travels the globe to lead retreats while maintaining roots in her Magog yoga studio. Her mission is to share happiness on a large scale based in the simplicity of the little things. She lives a yogic lifestyle and transmits the traditions of yoga while bringing it into the 21st century.