Finding Your Vibe
Ever wondered about the different Yoga Styles?
Like anything in life there are so many options and choices! One CEO one told me that ‘choice’ is the definition of strategy, in one word. I love this. It’s clear and straight to the point.
Some people say that there are too many books, or too many types of therapy or too many paintings. Not so. There are so many types because there are as many types of people as there are choices.
This applies to Yoga. There are many different types, but also styles of teachers. This is great news! This means that the benefits of Yoga can be experienced by more and more people. Whether you’re looking for a physical practice, release, or a break from the monkey mind, there are Yoga styles out there – and usually the combination of the mind, body and soul can be found in all styles with perhaps a different weightage or emphasis. After learning Yoga and exploring more about the postures being only ⅛ of Yoga, I entered a fascinating world of the true benefits of living the lifestyle of what Yoga represents.
Although there is some discussion around what constitutes as ‘Yoga’, even on a purely physical level Yoga can be extremely rewarding and beneficial. Yoga is better than no Yoga. I was in and out of Yoga for years before I found my meditative/ hatha/ vinyasa type flow that suited me and then I took that style forward into my teaching. I then added my own style on top of that, adding affirmations that support mindfulness and letting go, as part of the healing process.
I was trained in Hatha, Vinyasa, and Ashtanga. My style follows typical Hatha Yoga poses but in a Vinyasa flow. I focus on a theme for that season and prepare the sequences in advance. I first feel the theme e.g. Autumnal ‘letting go’ and then I feel my way through the moves, visualising a smooth transition between each move and optimising some of the Yoga websites with all the poses and sequence suggestions. I pick and mix and make my own flow… take myself through it and then I’m ready. At the beginning of the session I talk about the theme and then we always have a short moment to set the intention for the session in meditation. Building the energy slowly we move into each move and I intuitively speak at intervals that allow for healing and mindfulness, always emphasising the ownership of the group that individually they know their own limits and should go within to monitor their level of challenge that’s right for them.
I am drawn to healing as my profession and so ensure groups are small enough to support any individual care with barriers or injuries but always recommend they also speak to doctor of physio before carrying out Yoga. We have a variety of students, some undergoing physio, some with arthritis, or other ailments and together we have seen great improvements physically and in their approach to life. We always draw a line in the sand as to where we are today, and that being exactly where we need to be. We don’t judge, we simply observe, have awareness and continue to grow forward. Some days we have more energy than others so it’s also about optimising that but being kind to yourself when you’re not feeling as proactive. Sometimes we need support, sometimes we might even need a push and sometimes we want to push ourselves. Sometimes we just want to stretch and go easy. This should all be your own choice because only we know what is right for us at any given time within our own mind, body and soul. It’s about getting to know yourself and taking back your own mind, body and soul. We reflect a lot back to life throughout Yoga. My main message is that your life is yours and your sessions are for you to make the choices that are right for you.
We always end with a luxurious meditation at the end that is linked to the theme but slightly different each week, making use of guided imagery, aromatherapy oils and singing bowls. We often incorporate small breathing exercises which is a typical factor of Hatha Yoga.
Whichever Yoga you are more drawn to, it’s also not necessary to stick to one style. If you choose a more feminine restorative energy one session and a more masculine cardio another session then this can also be a nice balance of your own energies. For my cardio energy I like to jog. I often find this very meditative in itself. The space allows me to either clear my mind completely or I choose it for contemplation, working out my feelings or solution finding. Sometimes I even use it to run through any speeches I’m due to give. Check out my blog on getting back into running on Yoga Class Near You.
Specific teachers and styles specifically may be hard to see from the outset, so I do recommend that you you visit them and get an idea and keep going until you find one that sits well with you. Here are some keywords to type in depending on your overall main aim such as:
masculine, feminine, restorative, physically demanding, meditative, healing, laughter, yin, hatha, vinyasa, beginner/ intermediate/ advanced, calming, ashtanga, relaxing, evening, energetic, relaxing and so on.
Here’s some descriptions below of the main Yoga styles to give you some indication of what you might be looking for
Hatha yoga is a generic term that refers to any type of yoga that teaches physical postures. Nearly every type of yoga class taught in the West is hatha yoga. When a class is marketed as hatha, it generally means that you will get a gentle introduction to the basic yoga postures with some advancing into intermediate and advanced depending on the progress of the class. You probably won’t work up a sweat in a hatha yoga class, but you should end up leaving class feeling longer, looser, and more relaxed.
Ashtanga is based on ancient yoga teachings, but it was popularized and brought to the West by Pattabhi Jois (pronounced “pah-tah-bee joyce”) in the 1970s. It’s a rigorous style of yoga that follows a specific sequence of postures and is similar to vinyasa yoga, as each style links every movement to a breath. The difference is that ashtanga always performs the exact same poses in the exact same order. This is a hot, sweaty, physically demanding practice.
Approximately 30 years ago, Bikram Choudhury developed this school of yoga where classes are held in artificially heated rooms. In a Bikram class, you will sweat like you’ve never sweated before as you work your way through a series of 26 poses (like ashtanga, a Bikram class always follows the same sequence, although a Bikram sequence is different from an ashtanga sequence). Bikram is somewhat controversial, as Choudhury has trademarked his sequence and has prosecuted studios who call themselves Bikram but don’t teach the poses exactly the way he says they should. It is also wildly popular, making it one of the easiest types of classes to find.
Basically the same thing as Bikram. Generally, the only difference between Bikram and hot yoga is that the hot yoga studio deviates from Bikram’s sequence in some small way, and so they must call themselves by another name. The room will be heated, and you will sweat buckets.
Iyengar yoga was developed and popularized by B.K.S. Iyengar (pronounced “eye-yen-gar”). Iyengar is a very meticulous style of yoga, with utmost attention paid to finding the proper alignment in a pose. In order to help each student find the proper alignment, an Iyengar studio will stock a wide array of yoga props — blocks, blankets, straps, chairs, bolsters, and a rope wall are all common. There is less hart rate increase but you’ll be amazed to discover how physically and mentally challenging it is to stay put. Great for any injury or chronic condition.
Restorative yoga is a delicious way to way to relax and soothe frayed nerves. Restorative classes use bolsters, blankets, and blocks to prop students in passive poses so that the body can experience the benefits of a pose without having to exert any effort. A good restorative class is more rejuvenating than a nap. Studios and gyms often offer them on Friday nights, when just about everyone could use a little profound rest.
Vinyasa (pronounced “vin-yah-sah”) is the Sanskrit word for “flow”, and vinyasa classes are known for their fluid, movement-intensive practices. Vinyasa teachers choreograph their classes to smoothly transition from pose to pose, and often play music to keep things lively. The intensity of the practice is similar to Ashtanga, but no two vinyasa classes are the same. If you hate routine and love to test your physical limits, vinyasa may be just your ticket.
Nicola Wagstaff is a Hypnotherapist, Yoga instructor, Reiki and Access Bars practitioner. She will be bringing Hatha yoga and Teenage Yoga to complement our Dru Yoga and meditation class in 2016.
See Nicola’s website here