Hey Wellthy Woman!
I heard you want to start practicing yoga, which is a great way to improve mental wellness. You’ve been looking around your city for studios and they’re filled with options, but you don’t know where to start. There’s Hot yoga, Yin yoga, Vinyasa yoga, Ashtanga, and Hatha yoga, and did I mention there’s a weekly Slow Flow?
It can be hard to decide where to start. But, I got you covered. Here’s a comprehensive guide to some of the most common styles of yoga:
Vinyasa yoga is what we typically think of when we want to go to a yoga class. This class is typically faster paced and links breath to movement. It may also be called “Flow.” It will focus on dynamic movement and smooth transitions. It will include Sun Salutations and chaturanga (a high to low plank). Vinyasa yoga is energizing. It’s a great way to get your heart rate up and work through stagnant energy. You might break a sweat!
All yoga falls under Hatha yoga, as the term refers to all physical forms of yoga. However, a Hatha yoga class is going to be slower-paced movements. It will likely include foundational yoga poses. There are no chaturangas. There is an emphasis on breath and poses are not linked to each other like a Vinyasa class. Hatha yoga is a great way to practice mindfulness and mind-body connection.
Yin Yoga is a slow-paced class consisting of passive holds. You stress and load the joints by relaxing the muscles and finding your edge. Yin Yoga incorporates Traditional Chinese Medicine and uses poses to target meridians, or energetic paths, in the body and move stuck energy. Most Yin Yoga poses are done on the ground, for example, Sleeping Swan or Tadpole. You can hold poses anywhere from 3-5 minutes. Yin Yoga is a practice that asks us to find stillness in discomfort. Remember, discomfort and pain are different. We never want to experience pain in yoga. It’s a practice of resilience.
Ashtanga yoga is a set sequence of postures. This means that every time you go to an Ashtanga class the sequence will be the same. It is a very structured, alignment-focused, and physically demanding class. It consists of 6 six series. Traditionally, you spend years mastering one series with a teacher before moving to the next. The Primary series is where most people stay for a while. Every pose is held for 5 breaths. Needless to say, this style requires a lot of discipline!
Traditionally, a Hot yoga class is also known as Bikram yoga. Hot yoga is a set sequence, or variation, of 26 postures performed twice. Classes heat up to 105 degrees. A traditional Hot yoga class can be 60 or 90 minutes. However, a Hot yoga class varies and may be any of the styles listed above (except Ashtanga) in a heated setting. Many people like the added heat element to challenge the mind and aid in detoxing the body.
Power Yoga vs. Slow Flow
Both of these classes typically derive from Vinyasa yoga. A Slow Flow will move at a slower pace than your typical Vinyasa class and may have longer holds (but not as long as Yin). There may be more time spent on the ground and more sensations of stretching. A Power yoga class will be fast-paced, more strength-building, and incorporate challenging postures and transitions. You may be guided into inversions and arm balances. You’re likely to have a fun time in a Power class, remember it’s just yoga!
Sis, keep in mind that you have control over your body. As a beginner, you may be hesitant about where to start. Don’t be afraid to try something out. There are always modifications. Even once you enter a class, you still get to decide what you want to do with your body that day. Your yoga teacher will respect that. So, take breaks. Drink water. Be gentle with yourself. Explore something new.
I started yoga as a form of stretching and physical benefits but discovered the spiritual and mental benefits of yoga while practicing. After what I experienced, I wanted to share it with the world so I began teaching. I studied sequencing and anatomy, rocket, power, and restorative yoga and my goal is to make it accessible to everyone, especially melanated women regardless of financial background. I incorporate a variety of yoga teachings in my classes/sessions to allow you to discover new things about yourself, self-heal and leave feeling liberated.