Yoga Classes: Translated

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You did it - you decided to start your yoga journey (or maybe switch things up with your current practice), so you eagerly Google yoga classes in your area when you realize… you had no idea there were so many different types of yoga! Sound familiar? 

In this day & age of fad workouts, it seems like every day there’s a new “Yoga Sculpt” or “Yogalates” class being thrown into the rotation in addition to more traditional styles like Bikram & Ashtanga! 

Not sure where to start? Here are the 10 types of yoga classes you’re most likely to encounter & how that translates into what you’ll ACTUALLY be doing on your mat:

1. Gentle Yoga/ Restorative Yoga/ Hatha Yoga

These gentle, restorative classes are slower, more meditative & calming. With a strong emphasis on the fundamentals of yoga, you’ll focus mostly on breathing and alignment. I like to take restorative classes at night because they help me work out all of the aches and pains my body has acquired throughout the day! Gentle yoga classes are perfect for beginners or anyone who wishes to slow things down and really engage with their body.

2. Vinyasa Flow/ Yoga Flow

The word ‘vinyasa’ simply means linking movement with breath. In a vinyasa class you’re likely to flow between sequences in a faster, more dynamic approach than a basic yoga class. Flowing between poses will build heat throughout your body, sculpt & tone your muscles & stimulate your mind! Classes that rely heavily on flows are great to take in the morning because you’ll leave the studio energized & ready to tackle your day!

3. Yin Yoga

Yin is a meditative practice that emphasizes long holds of passive poses - think the opposite of a dynamic vinyasa flow class. Yin postures are meant to nourish your joints & ligaments to promote muscle relaxation. If you’re looking to increase your flexibility, try a yin class! Long holds are key to stretching out your muscles! A yin practice is also a wonderful complement to a more vigorous yoga practice or to endurance sports such a running, hiking & swimming.

4. Yoga Sculpt/ Barre

Yoga Sculpt classes promote strength and endurance by incorporating hand weights into a yoga practice. Barre classes are a total body workout that contain elements of both yoga & pilates with a focus on small isometric holds, cardio work & strength training. If you’re looking to tone and strength your body in a yoga environment, these classes are for you! Yoga sculpt classes are very similar to Barre in that you’re building stamina, burning body fat & building lean muscle through a series of squats, lunges, crunches, balancing postures, cardio & stretching!

5. Yogilates/ PiYo

Yogilates & PiYo are also both a fusion of Pilates & Yoga, but with slight variations! Yogilates might feel like standard yoga in the beginning, but the intense abdominal work at the end is where the Pilates comes in! This practice will help you develop core strength, tone your body and increase flexibility. PiYo is a more intense fusion that emphasizes endurance & stability with choreographed moves performed to upbeat, rhythmic music. PiYo is definitely an energetic class - another perfect option for waking yourself up in the early morning! 

6. Power Yoga/ Power Flow

Power classes are usually planned with the advanced yogi in mind. They focus on core work & arm strength, typically exploring arm balances and inversions. I’d recommend that you have some yoga flow experience before joining a power yoga class, but you can always try it out & modify if needed!

7. Hot Yoga/ Heated Vinyasa

Hot yoga classes are vinyasa classes heated between 80 & 90 degrees with the intention of building heat & sweating out toxins. The heat also encourages a deep connection to breath & will increase your strength as you flow between sequences. If you don’t feel like you’ve gotten a good workout in unless you’re sweating buckets, this class is for you!

8. Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga Yoga is a vinyasa practice made up of a set series of postures. Because it's so physically demanding, it's great for building core strength & toning your body! While it is possible to modify certain postures & to decrease the physical demand by skipping vinyasas, if you’re a beginner you most likely want to work up to Ashtanga. With a heavy focus on breath work, arm balances & inversions, (all done in a heated room) Ashtanga will test your strength & endurance!

9. Bikram Yoga

Bikram Yoga is another style of yoga that’s great for those of us who like routine. Bikram classes are 90 minutes long & follow a specific 26 posture sequence. The room is kept VERY hot & humid (usually between 95 & 100 degrees) which allows you to really lengthen your muscles & settle into poses. If your goal is to increase flexibility, try a Bikram class! Classes with set postures also allow you to fall into a meditative state because you already know what pose is coming next! You'll begin to notice the nuances of your body & connect with it on a deeper level.

10. Workshop/ Clinic classes

Workshops dive deep into a specific posture or category of postures. You might take a workshop solely devoted to breaking down backbends or inversions or one that focuses on a specific pose, like crow pose. Workshops are great if you really want to master that one pose you’ve had your eye on! You can ask questions & truly take the time to understand how your body’s alignment translates to the pose. While it might not happen for you that day, you’ll go home with the knowledge & the tools to get you one step closer. I love workshop classes because I leave feeling like I’ve truly accomplished something!

Just remember: no matter what yoga class you end up taking, the important thing is simply that you’re taking it. By being present on your mat, you’ve made the commitment to nourish your mind, body & soul & that’s something to celebrate!