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The Substation guide to yoga styles

Whether you want to relax, have a workout or get in touch with your spiritual side, there is a yoga class to suit you. And you don’t have to be bendy………….but where do we start when there are so many different styles to choose from?

Hatha
Most forms of yoga in the West can be classified as Hatha Yoga. Hatha simply refers to the practice of physical yoga postures. The word “hatha” can be translated two ways: the yoga of activity or the yoga of balance. Hatha practices were designed to align and calm your body, mind, and spirit in preparation for meditation.

Anusara
Anusara means ‘flowing with grace’. The emphasis is on opening the heart space physically and emotionally by connecting with your sense of playfulness and joy. It is an upbeat yet demanding take on Hatha yoga developed in the late 1990s in the USA with strong philosophical and alignment principles. In keeping with the theme of the heart, poses are instructed from the inside out, focusing on what they feel like rather than what they look like. 

Ashtanga
A physically demanding, flowing style of yoga was developed and bought to the west by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois (1915-2009). Postures are held for a relatively short period (5 breaths is common) and practised in a set sequence. The emphasis is on internal locks (bhandas), fixing the gaze (dristi) and cultivating a powerful breath (ujjayi).  

Baby Yoga
This style of yoga can help to settle your baby, improving their digestion & sleep. As a parent, you will have time to bond with your baby, learn how to communicate with them, build confidence in handling them while giving yourself time to heal after your pregnancy and release tension.

          Hot Yoga
          Any style of yoga practised in an intentionally heated room is Hot Yoga. This includes Forrest Yoga, Baptiste Yoga, and CorePower Yoga. It is not uncommon to also find yin or restorative yoga taught in a heated room. In these classes, temperatures anywhere from 30 to 40 degrees Celsius are said to help you sweat out toxins while you work toward increased strength and flexibility.  

          Iyengar
          The Iyengar method is internationally respected for its detailed structural approach. Props are often used to aid correct alignment and enable students – regardless of age or flexibility – to access the benefits of challenging postures and progress at their own pace. BKS Iyengar (1918-2014) was one of yoga’s chief modern global ambassadors with a direct lineage to the ancient teachings via his brother-in-law Sri T Krishnamacharya. 

          Jivamukti
          A vinyasa-based style founded in New York by Sharron Gannon and David Life, featuring hands-on adjustments, Pranayama and chanting accompanied by music that enhances the ‘focus of the month’. Jivamukti means ‘liberated while living’. 

          Kirtan
          Kirtan refers to chanting, traditionally one of the many practices of yoga. Indian instruments such as the harmonium and drum accompany the chant while Sanskrit mantras and repeated in a call and response fashion, bringing about a stilling of the mind and a connection to our ‘feeling’ rather than ‘thinking’ state. You don’t need to be a good singer to enjoy kirtan!

          Kundalini
          This style of yoga was designed to awaken energy in the spine. Kundalini yoga classes include meditation, breathing techniques such as alternate nostril breathing, and chanting, as well as yoga postures. 

          Pregnancy Yoga
          This style of yoga is designed to support mothers-to-be on their individual pregnancy journeys, from conception all the way to birth. Classes will help you meet your changing physical and emotional needs while addressing any unexpected challenges that might arise. They will give you the tools you need to 

          Restorative
          A restorative yoga sequence typically involves only five or six poses, supported by props that allow you to completely relax and rest. Held for 5 minutes or more, restorative poses include light twists, seated forward folds, and gentle backbends. Most restorative practices are based on the teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar. 

          Vinyasa Flow
          A dynamic style of yoga in which movement is instructed with the breath (for example, ‘inhale as you raise your arms, exhale as you fold forwards’). Poses are held for a relatively short period and the flowing transitions are as important as the poses. In Sanskrit Vinyasa means ‘to place in a special way’ and comes from the yogic technique of ‘vinyasa krama’ – ordering your yoga practice intelligently so that each step is a step in the right direction toward your goal. When applied to asana practice, this means linking postures in such a way that each provides the groundwork for the next so that challenging poses are attempted once the body has been strengthened and opened. 

          Yin Yoga
          This is a practice developed by teacher Paul Grilley to stretch the body’s connective tissue, particularly around the joints. A slow-paced floor-based style of yoga with postures that are held for longer periods of time ranging between three to five minutes.  The initial intention of this practice was to prepare the body to be able to sit in long meditation sessions and to act as a counterpoint to movement-oriented vigorous yang styles of yoga.  

          These are just some of the most popular styles of yoga. There is a class to suit you whatever your body type or temperament. How to find the one that’s right for you? Our advice is to start with a Hatha or beginners class, then explore some different styles and teachers. Yoga is not a static thing, and it’s good to balance energetic styles with slower and more introspective styles. In this way yoga gives us a way to find balance in our minds and bodies. 

          Did you know that we have hot Hatha, vinyasa, yin, yin + yang restorative, pregnancy, baby yoga and beginners’ yoga classes taking place every week in our lovely studio? Read all about our instructors and find the right class for you here. Do you have a friend who’d like to try yoga? Substation members can bring a friend for free! And both of you get a pizza to share! Just let us know your friend’s name when you book your class.