Yoga Class Types
Yoga Class Types
For anyone new to yoga, the different types of yoga classes available may be confusing. Below are some of the most common types of classes offered. Please note that the following descriptions are a general guideline as the intensity and style of a class can vary depending on the studio, gym or instructor.
Today, Hatha usually describes a slower moving practice where poses are held for 3-5 breaths. In general, Hatha is one of the more suitable styles for beginners or if you are looking for a class with less intensity. As poses are held for longer periods of time, it gives beginners ample time to get into the proper foundation of a pose while allowing instructors time to go around and correct form. This practice is also good if you are looking to improve flexibility since your body has time to release into certain poses.
Vinyasa or Flow
Vinyasa or Flow classes are slightly faster moving classes where instructors give you a sequence of poses that link together allowing you to move seamlessly from one pose to the next. In a Vinyasa practice, the key is syncing your movements with your breath. Poses are generally held for 1-3 breaths to encourage more movement or “flow”. As these types of classes are slightly faster moving, experience with and knowing the names of some of the basic poses is helpful.
As the name indicates, this type of class is more intense and requires a certain amount of strength and endurance. Depending on the instructor, you can expect to hold poses longer or move quicker than a Vinyasa of Flow class, challenging both your muscle and cardio endurance. Before trying a power class, it is recommended to have a reasonable amount of yoga experience and you should be comfortable with Vinyasa or Flow classes first to make this more challenging experience enjoyable.
As the name implies, this practice takes place in a heated room which is combined with many of the more active styles of classes listed here. When heat is added to your practice, your muscles are warm, and it may allow you to go deeper into certain poses. The heat can also be used to challenge your mind and body to stay quiet during times of discomfort in a hot room. You can expect to get sweaty and it is good practice to properly hydrate before a class. Many practitioners bring a water bottle as well as a towel or mat towel as some mats become slippery when wet.
Yin is a passive practice where poses are held for several minutes. Several props such as blocks, bolsters, blankets and straps are used to support and make your body more comfortable. When muscles are gently stretched for several minutes at a time, the fascia around your muscles starts to release helping to increase flexibility. The “stretching” that occurs in Yin is gentle where you will experience a bit of tension but not so much that you aren’t able to hold the pose the entire time. Yin is a great practice for those looking to increase flexibility and range of motion.
Restorative is a very gentle practice aimed at gently releasing and restoring your body through much longer holds than in Yin. Like Yin, several props are used to support the body as poses can be held for as long as 20-minutes. As a result, there may only be 3-5 poses during a Restorative class. This class is perfect for those looking to rest, release and nurture both their minds and bodies.
This practice promotes deep relaxation and rest and can help with calming the central nervous system and reducing stress. During the practice, the goal is to enter a state of awareness between being asleep and awake as the instructor guides you through a body scan similar to a guided meditation. In most instances, you will spend the entire time on your back and props such as bolsters and blankets may be used to keep you comfortable and warm. For an online guided Yoga Nidra practice, please click here.
If you are trying a new class and unsure if it is right for you, speak to the instructor before the class and ask them what to expect. Also, if you have any injuries, you can also let your instructor know so they can provide alternative variations for you.
Co-Founder, Movement Travel