The Different Types of Yoga
If you go to any yoga studio these days, and you’re new to the practice, you may feel incredibly overwhelmed by the variety of names, types and types of yoga. If you are new to yoga, it’s quite normal to ask the question “What are all the different types of yoga, and more importantly – Which type of yoga should I be practicing?”
And you will get a variety of answers.
A quick list of the different types of yoga would include Hatha or classical Yoga, Vinyasa or flow Yoga, Bikram or hot Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga or Power Yoga, Iyengar Yoga (named after a guru), Sivananda Yoga (named after another guru), Kundalini Yoga (opening the chakras) , Yin, Restorative or Therapeutic Yoga, Jivamukti, Kaiut and Scaravelli …Its the dance of Shiva and the list goes on.
Which is right for you?
Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to what kind of yoga is right for you. However, if you read on, you’ll discover how to choose.
Firstly, it depends on what you are expecting and thinking about Yoga.
If you are expecting a physical workout, and want to incorporate Yoga as part of a fitness regime you’ll be very disappointed and probably bored if you go to a gentle, calm Yin Class.
Likewise, if you have heard Yoga is a spiritual path, with meditation and subtle energy openings and you go to an athletic Ashtanga class you may even hurt yourself.
If you continue your search, can may find some really zany yoga practices out there - cannabis yoga, co-ed naked yoga, yoga classes for you and your dog, your baby, yoga raves, karaoke yoga where you can recreate scenes from Footloose, and in London UK, there is even a practice called ‘voga,’ where you can do yoga and vogue (a la Madonna) at the same time.
Secondly, beware of anyone who says this or that is not TRUE yoga.
As you can see with this many yoga practices available, when you are asking for advice of which one to do, you may hear the claim that this or that form of yoga is “not true yoga.” And most yogi’s are quite biased and will happily point you to their yoga as “the best”.
While actually, technically what 99% of all yoga practitioners do here in the western world, whatever tradition or practice we are doing, isn’t true yoga either. Regardless of our intentions, despite our claims, the grand majority of yogis today are engaging in a modern hybrid version of this ancient spiritual discipline.
Thirdly, discover a little bit about the background to yoga.
You can read lots and lots on the internet, but briefly, Classical Yoga as an ancient lineage, was written up by a chap called Patanjali a few thousand years ago in the Yoga Sutras. Yoga was not a physical practice with a spiritual suggestion, but rather a spiritual practice with a physical component. There was no yoga on and off the mat (indeed five thousand years ago they wouldn’t have had mats as we know them today). Being a yogi meant for your entire life. Yoga was following the eight limbs of yoga for spiritual enlightenment and one part of the practice (one eighth) included physical asanas (or postures).
Today the general modern understanding is that the asanas, the postures, the physical movements of yoga are it. That the main emphasis is therefore on moving the body. And the movement can be fast, slow, flow, hot etc etc. Hence the different types. With spiritual teachings or meditations that are given as a helpful addition to the postures.
Fourthly, Try before you buy.
One of the best things I did for my own practice in recent years was to become a yoga slut. Before you go judging me harshly, what I mean by that is that I went to every yoga class, studio and teacher I could find while on a three month trip to Hawaii and Canada.
During that trip, I became very self aware. I was interested in my own mind. What was exposed was a rigidity, inflexibility and tightness about what or what isn’t yoga.
“But this isn’t Yoga” I would complain silently.
“Why are we doing this?” I would ask myself grumpily.
“What’s this all about?” I would be confused and blame the teacher, the class or the style.
The biggest discovery that I found to my amazement was that as soon as I let go of the tightness and rightness or wrongness in my mind, the class (whichever class it was) that I was attending became wonderful.
I found my heart opened.
I loved the class, whatever class it was, I loved the teacher, the other students.
Now, when some classes ended I didn’t attend again. And sometimes not just for logistical reasons. If I didn’t return I made sure in my mind I knew it was simply because it wasn’t right for ME… not because it wasn’t right. Who am I to know what is right for other people?
In that experience of exposing myself many different types of yoga, I had discovered in me a kind of zealous yogi. I was shocked to see that although I can be very accepting and open-hearted in other areas of my life, when it comes to MY practice… MY yoga, MY teaching – then there is a danger of being closed and tight.
Fifthly, Is Kaiut Yoga the style for you?
When I shout out for Kaiut Yoga, I need to be very open to the fact that this yoga is better than others FOR ME and my body and my age right now. It may not be right for you. I might be tempted to say Kaiut is the only yoga to try, and yet that dismisses the fact I have tried and trained in other types myself and they were super important for me at the time.
I could tell you passionately why other forms aren’t really yoga. And that’s not true. We have no idea what “real” yoga looks like, it’s all grown, evolved and changed so much from what the ancient yogis were doing.
So, if you are looking for a practice and not sure which to choose from all the different types of yoga on offer I suggest you try them all.
Or at least a few, go with an open mind and an open heart to at least 3 or 4 classes (unless it’s clear not to return after one class) with a teacher before you decide.
It can as much looking for the right teacher as the style. Check what they offer, check if you like the venue. Check the schedule fits yours.
Of all the different types of Yoga, I can honestly claim that Kaiut Yoga is the best yoga…. for me, and I’m really thrilled if you join me in thinking it’s the best for you,
Have fun finding your own perfect yoga style, practice, teacher and studio to rave about (FOR YOU!)
If you would like to experience this type of yoga - and try Kathy’s Kaiut Classes – consider joining as a member for a month for the price of one class in a regular studio you will have access to the audio recordings of over 20 classes to try and some instructional videos to watch.