Which Yoga practice is right for you?

The new year can be a perfect time to start something new, and if you have always wanted to try yoga, now is the perfect time!  We know it can be overwhelming to be a complete beginner again, and with so many styles to choose from it can be difficult to know where to begin.  But half of the battle is just starting, and once you’ve found a practice you connect with you can really start to step into your flow and feel the benefits that a regular yoga practice brings into your life.


It’s easy to be put off by all the different names and what they mean, but that just means there is more choice!  There really is a style to suit everybody and every mood.  Whether you're after something slow and strengthening, dynamic and sweaty or relaxing and stretchy.  Remember, every teacher will teach slightly differently, so if you find a class doesn’t feel quite right for you, that’s okay!  Give yourself time to see what practices you enjoy and benefit from the most.  


Yin vs Yang Energy

In life we strive to create a sense of balance, this constant flow between Yin and Yang energy.  Yin energy is slow, gentle and relaxing.  Whereas Yang energy is energetic, dynamic and active.  We see these two energies in balance throughout nature.  In the seasons spring and summer represent that Yang energy a time of growth, expansion, and high energy.  Autumn and Winter represent that Yin energy, a time of letting go, turning inwards and rest.  We can also see it within the sun and moon.  The sun providing the heat, fire and masculine energy of the yang, and the moon giving the cool, dark, feminine energy of the yin.  So, if you find you lead a busy, hectic, active life you might find you benefit more from a slower Yin based practice to help balance out the mind and body.  If your life is quite slow, you spend a lot of time seated and you feel a bit stagnant sometimes, you might benefit more from a Yang based practice.  So, lets break down the different styles of yoga.


Vinyasa 

Vinyasa is a great practice for all.  Its fluid, flowing movement connecting body and breath.  The practice often gradually builds starting slow and becoming more dynamic.  Focusing on balancing, strengthening, lengthening and breathing a Vinyasa class will get the body moving.  Helping you to feel strong and focused but always coming back to the breath.  Classes will include standing and seated postures and often incorporate options for inversions and arm balances.  But remember everything is an offering and an invitation, and you take whatever variation feels right for your body.  Classes will always wind back down with seated stretches before a closing meditation.


Is this practice for you?

  • You want dynamic movement and lots of options to play with
  • You like to flow between movements 
  • You want to develop strength and mobility

  • Power

    Power Yoga follows a similar bases as Vinyasa, still working with that breath to body connection but this practice will be more dynamic and strengthening.  Constantly keeping you breathing and moving, Power Yoga helps you to strengthen both the mind and body with strengthening postures, lots of balances, core work, and places to explore into inversions and arm balances.  

    Is this practice for you?

    • You want to build up a sweat and feel like you’ve had a workout
    • You want to work on strengthening the body
    • You want to play with some different inversions and arm balances in your practice

    Hatha

    Hatha is the basis for which all yoga practices come from.  A slower based practice which focuses on bringing a state of balance back into the body.  This class will involve less fancy sequencing and flow, but more focus on alignment, holding the postures and often moving from one side of the body to another.  Hatha reminds us to focus on how the posture feels within the body and gives us time to adjust ourselves to find what works for our body, whilst always using the breath. 

    Is this practice for you?

  • You want more time to get familiar with the postures and hold each pose for longer
  • You want to bring a sense of balance to mind and body
  • You want to focus on alignment 

  • Yin

    Yin a slow, mostly floor-based practice.  Working deep into the muscle tissue and fascia, to help increase mobility, flexibility and find emotional release.  We store built up tension and emotion in our bodies and Yin can be a great way to let that go.  A relaxing practice, but it can be challenging if you struggle with staying still as the postures are held for anywhere between 3-7 minutes.  Often props are used to support the body and allow you to relax, with options to move deeper into postures if the breath allows.  Turning inwards is encouraged with a big focus on mindfulness and meditation, seeing how your body and mind react when faced with stillness.

    Is this practice for you?

    • You want to work on joint mobility and muscle flexibility
    • You want a slow and relaxing practice
    • You lead a busy, hectic lifestyle and struggle when being still

    Restorative

    Similar to Yin, restorative is a relaxing mostly floor-based practice.  With a heavy use of props such as bolsters, blocks and straps this class is suitable for people suffering from illness, ailment or injury recovery.  Mostly focusing on passive stretches using the props to support and open the body in a gentle way that allows you to relax completely.  Lots of options and modifications will be given, and time to really settle into the posture and see how it feels for your body.  

    Is this practice for you?

  • You are recovering from injury, illness or struggle with physical movement
  • You want a relaxing practice and a gentle stretch
  • You want to learn ways the props can be used to benefit and support your practice

  • Yin Yang

    The perfect combination of dynamic vinyasa and relaxing yin postures.  Classes will either start or end in floor-based yin postures, with lots of dynamic, flowing movement in the middle.  The yin postures are used to open or release specific parts of the body used within the flow.  This class will bring you back into energetic balance and give you the benefits of both worlds.  

    Is this practice for you?

    • You want to create a sense of balanced energy
    • You want to move dynamically but don’t want to commit to a full Vinyasa class
    • You like a mix of energetic and relaxing movement

    Whatever class you choose to start with, just remember the hardest part is always starting.  Embrace the journey and enjoy yourself.

     

    By Donna Edwards

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