Yoga offers many fantastic benefits for your health, but with so many different styles to choose from, it can be tricky knowing exactly where to start. Find out about the various schools to make the right choice for you.
Ashtanga yoga is physically demanding and involves 75 different poses in a session that generally lasts about 90 to 120 minutes. The 75 poses are categorised into six series or sequences of poses, starting with the "primary" series and working through to the more difficult movements. The breath works in harmony with the postures and the aim is to keep flowing from one pose to the next to keep the energy flowing and warmth in the body. Ashtanga yoga is great for toning and improving circulation, and will be enjoyed by those who really want to work their bodies.
Welcome to sweaty betty yoga! This style is focused on 26 key postures in a very, very hot room — usually around 38 degrees C. The basic idea behind the style is that heat and humidity help to warm up your muscles and flush toxins from your body, giving you a more intense workout. Those who prefer traditional, relaxing yoga tend to shy away from Bikram, as it's a pretty full-on routine. It usually involves students facing a mirror while the instructor walks around and readjusts you if necessary. If you're planning on trying out Bikram yoga for the first time, make sure you drink plenty of water after the class and don't push yourself too hard as first-time students can sometimes feel light-headed.
If you hate Bikram, you'll most likely love Iyengar. This is a far more relaxed style, which focuses on calming the mind and gently stretching the body. There is a strong emphasis on correcting your posture and working at your own pace. Props such as straps, pillows and bolsters are used so that even older students or those with strains, injuries or who are less flexible can still take part in the class.
Hatha is a more classic style of yoga, with a strong focus on breathing exercises and the various postures. It's often a slow and gentle session, so it's great for absolute beginners who want to get a broad idea of what yoga is all about.
As you might have guessed from the name, flow yoga is all about keeping a steady flow between postures. Classes generally kick off with a sun salutation, but the rest of the class will differ each time. Students who love this style will also like ashtanga.