How do you know if the option you’ve chosen is best for you? This fun and revealing guide can help you pick the right class.
How to Find Your Yoga Style
Step 1: Consider why you practice
First, consider your reasons for practicing: Are you looking for a sweaty workout, or are you attracted to yoga’s more restorative benefits? Are you searching for a spiritual experience or relief from back pain?
Step 2: Be honest about your personal needs
Next, consider your preferences and needs: Do you want personalized attention or are you motivated by a community vibe? Do you like to be pushed or do you need a more compassionate approach? And then be honest with yourself about possible physical, financial, and time limitations.
Step 3: Shop around for your yoga style
The truth is, you may not even know what you’re looking for until you start trying on styles, but you’ll know when you’ve found the yoga that’s right for you.
Be mindful of how your body feels during and after class: The pace and level of practice should feel challenging but not overtaxing, and you should feel more relaxed, open, and grounded in your body after class, not more stressed and disconnected.
Pay attention to the emotional and mental shifts that take place throughout the class, too. Notice what inspires you, or whether you’ve checked out and lost interest.
The best indicator of a good fit: You’ll want to take the class again.
Why Finding Your Yoga Style Is Essential
“It’s important for a student to find the yoga that she resonates with, “Do whatever it is that makes you want to do yoga.” Know that there’s no right or wrong, superior or inferior style.
Explore the Types of Yoga
From Ashtanga to Vini, find your fit from the many types of yoga.
So you’ve decided to hang up your shoes and twist your way to good health instead? Or are recovering from an injury and are looking for an activity that hastens the healing? Maybe you plan to use it as cross-training for another sport, want to improve your flexibility or simply need to de-stress on your mat?
It doesn’t matter what brings you to yoga, the point is you have decided to try it out. But with the mind-bogglingly long list of styles, variations, and hybridisations of the practice out there, it can be somewhat intimidating for a relative newbie.
What to Expect: The inspiration for many Vinyasa-style yoga classes, Ashtanga Yoga is an athletic and demanding practice. Traditionally, Ashtanga is taught “Mysore style”: Students learn a series of poses and practice at their own pace while a teacher moves around the room giving adjustments and personalized suggestions.
What It’s About: The practice is smooth and uninterrupted, so the practitioner learns to observe whatever arises without holding on to it or rejecting it. With continued practice, this skill of attentive nonattachment spills over into all aspects of life. This is one important meaning of K. Pattabhi Jois’s famous saying, “Practice, and all is coming.”
Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga
What to Expect: This is a physically challenging, flowing practice that will get your heart pumping while also encouraging you to find your authentic personal power in life. Classes feature a vigorous 90-minute sequence, performed in a heated room and designed to condition the whole body.
What It’s About: The aim of Baptiste Yoga is to create freedom, peace of mind, and the ability to live more powerfully and authentically right now. The physically challenging practice is a training ground for facing emotional and philosophical challenges that arise in your life.
What to Expect: Rooms are heated to 105 degrees, and classes consist of 45 minutes of standing poses and 45 minutes of floor postures. You do the same series of two breathing exercises and 26 poses in each class.
What It’s About: This practice is designed to work your body and requires full mental concentration. The overall objective is to create a fit body and mind, allowing the physical self to unify with the spiritual self.
What to Expect: A gentle practice based on chanting, postures, deep relaxation, breathing practices, and meditation.
What It’s About: Integral Yoga focuses on returning us to our “natural condition,” which includes health and strength, a clear and calm mind, a heart full of love, a strong yet pliable will, and a life filled with supreme joy.
What to Expect: Classes include alignment-based vinyasa sequences, with meditation, Pranayama (breathwork), and kriyas (cleansing techniques) to create specific energetic effects.
What It’s About: ISHTA stands for the Integrated Science of Hatha, Tantra, and Ayurveda, and its aim is to balance the human organism to create a strong and stable platform for spiritual growth.
What to Expect: Often, you’ll do only a few poses while exploring the subtle actions required to master proper alignment. Poses can be modified with props, making the practice accessible to all.
What It’s About: For beginners, the primary objective is to understand the alignment and basic structure of the poses, and to gain greater physical awareness, strength, and flexibility.
What to Expect: A 90-minute class typically begins with chanting and ends with singing, and in between features asana, pranayama, and meditation designed to create a specific outcome. Expect to encounter challenging breathing exercises, including the rapid pranayama known as Breath of Fire, mini-meditations, mantras, mudras (sealing gestures), and vigorous movement-oriented postures, often repeated for minutes, that will push you to your limit—and beyond.
What It’s About: Kundalini Yoga is sometimes called the Yoga of Awareness. The primary goal is to awaken kundalini energy, the psychoenergetic force that leads to spiritual elevation and kick-start the process of transformation.
What to Expect: Medium-paced vinyasa sequences combined with alignment instruction and Tibetan Buddhist concepts like mindfulness and compassion.
What It’s About: The aim is to cultivate strength, stability, and clarity and integrate mindfulness and compassion into your whole life.
What to Expect: Classes are asana focused, with adherence to the alignment principles of Iyengar Yoga and incorporation of yogic philosophy. Short meditations begin and end class to connect students with the heart center.
What It’s About: The emphasis is on uniting the body and mind with the spirit. There are four limbs to Purna Yoga: meditation, asana and pranayama, applied philosophy, and nutrition and lifestyle.
What to Expect: Tailored to individual needs, classes vary greatly and may include asana, pranayama, chanting, meditation, prayer, and ritual. All classes emphasize mobilizing the spine and coordinating movement with breath.
What It’s About: Viniyoga is a useful therapeutic tool for the body, but it also aims to develop the breath, voice, memory, intellect, character, and heart. The practice views yoga as a means to cultivate the positive, reduce the negative, and help each practitioner achieve discriminative awareness—the key to any process of self-transformation.
Believed to have evolved from ancient yogic traditions dating back centuries
What to Expect: “A traditional Hatha yoga class is structured to cleanse the body of toxins, help you breathe better and make your body supple and strong.” The possibilities of exploration within a class are endless.
What It’s About: Hatha Yoga isn’t strictly a style of yoga—it is an umbrella term for any system that uses postures, breathwork, and dietary regulations to prepare one for higher possibilities.
You may have a Hatha class that focuses on asanas that stretch the hamstrings and the back, for instance. Or ones that help cultivate balance, better breathing or upper body strength. One thing is constant though: a Hatha yoga class will, “help one appreciate the body’s innate intelligence and discover its potential.”
What to Expect: Based on the teachings of Swami Sivananda, this yoga style is more spiritual practice than exercise. Each 90-minute class focuses on 12 core poses and Sanskrit chanting, pranayama practices, meditation, and relaxation.
What It’s About: Designed to transform and elevate human consciousness, Sivananda Yoga focuses on five fundamental points of yoga: proper exercise, proper breathing, proper relaxation (Corpse Pose), proper diet (vegetarianism), and positive thinking and meditation.
What to Expect: Classes include a lot of floor work with ample propping and hands-on adjustments. Classes begin and end in Savasana (Corpse Pose) and focus on releasing tension.
What It’s About: Svaroopa means “the bliss of your own Being.” It refers to the Tantric view of the body as a form of consciousness. The goal is to create “core opening” to remove energetic impediments to inner transformation.
What to Expect: A flowing asana practice, pranayama, mudras, dharana (concentration) practice, and meditation.
What It’s About: The wavelike spinal movements and synchronized breathing are designed to awaken prana.
You Know You’re In the Right Yoga Class When…
Finding the yoga practice that works for you has as much to do with the individual teacher as it does the style he or she teaches. Next time you go to class, tune into your inner voice and see if you notice and feel these key elements of a well-taught class:
- You feel safe and supported. Class warms up at an appropriate pace, and the teacher has a clear command of the room, acknowledging new students.
- You can hear and understand the teacher’s instructions.
- The teacher customizes his or her teachings to the ability and skill level of the students present, despite the class description or level.
- The teacher respects and honors your physical limitations, but can also help you move outside your comfort zone in a safe, beneficial way.
- The teacher addresses everyone, from the most adept practitioner to the total newbie.
- You can approach the teacher and are able to ask questions and share concerns during or after class. (You should never feel intimidated by a yoga teacher.)
- You feel inspired, either during or after class—or, better yet, both!
What’s Your Style?
Whether you are seeking, or just curious about your compatibility with your current favorite yoga, Curves For Her presents guidance to find the right yoga for you.