The Different Types of Yoga Classes

Over the last 70 years, yoga styles have developed in many ways each with its own focus. However, all yoga in gym settings is rooted in Hatha Yoga, from Krishnamacharya.

Yoga is a broad subject matter, spanning across every aspect of human existence to promote individual and social health and well being. The breadth of yoga practices resulted in many combinations, as each generation of teachers discovered and developed in a myriad of directions hence the ‘styles’. Some draw on the selected philosophical and spiritual elements, whilst others are heavily influenced by anatomy and movement from western therapeutic approaches. For example, Joseph Pilates included research of Eastern mind-body practices and developed Pilates. The Pilates method now influences yoga, hence a cycle of research development is evident.

Hatha Yoga

Hatha Yoga focuses on the correct alignment of each of the joint areas for maximum stability, so that a pose can be held. The isometric aspect strengthens and tones the muscles and joint tissue, it also activates the lymphatic system therefore it has a detoxifying effect on the vascular system. Hatha yoga often uses portable personal props, such as a yoga mat or belt, to strengthen the poses.

Location: Gyms, studio and community
Difficulty Level: Suitable for all levels

Iyengar Yoga

Iyengar Yoga still holds a strong identity from its original form, which uses props, fixtures, specially designed therapy furniture, bolsters and blankets, these can often be found in purpose designed studios. The purpose props gently and repeatedly coerce the body into optimal alignment. The emphasis is on precise alignment in the pose, holding the position and building on strength and flexibility. It also has a therapeutic nature. People with exceptional strength sometimes practice Iyengar yoga to overcome stubborn muscular problems and misalignments.

Location: Mainly studios, or with basic equipment in gyms
Difficulty Level: Suitable for all levels

Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga Yoga is a repetitive practice of a carefully constructed series of poses to develop strength, flexibility and agility. It does not consider props, instead intense daily practice is prescribed. The assumption is that the body will excel with enough dedicated practice and through the will of the mind, it is seen as a demanding routine with athletic qualities.

Location: Gyms and studios
Difficulty Level: Suitable for advanced level

Viniyoga

Viniyoga is a personalised approach to yoga. It can be seen as similar to personal training, as its tailor made to suit the individual’s needs, with regards to their age, gender, physical form, mental health and occupation. Its main objective is to assistant individuals to build on their practice and maximise on their potential. Viniyoga is a traditional approach developed by Desikacher, in the style of his father, Krishnamacharya, and includes chanting, pranayama and meditation. This equips the individual to manage and live with any personal challenges they may be facing, such as living with debilitating health conditions.

Location: Delivered by specialist teachers
Level: Particularly suitable for those living with challenging health problems

Vinyasa Yoga (Flow yoga)

In Vinyasa Yoga (Flow yoga), the practitioner goes through a series of poses, carefully flowing from one into another, the flow has a meditative effect, but it is also part of an energetic and graceful cardio routine.

Location: Gyms, studio and community
Difficulty Level: Suitable for all levels

Hot Yoga

Hot Yoga is carried out in heated rooms. The raised temperatures of up to 42 degrees, aid with flexibility and detoxification. Immediate weight loss can be a common misconception as it is more likely to have resulted from dehydration.

Location: Studio only
Difficulty Level: Suitable for all levels

Acroyoga

Acroyoga is influenced by acrobatics and gymnastics, it requires an athletic body or a body and mind with athletic potential. Regardless of whether or not you have the skills of an elite gymnast or expert acrobat, you’ll still be able to establish the foundations of new skills, which should allow you to push your body and physical capabilities to new limits.

Location: Studio only
Difficulty Level: Suitable for all levels

Pranayama

Pranayama combines the words ‘Prana’, referred to as the ‘life force’ and ‘Ayama’ which is outlined as ‘to lengthen or to work on it’. Your breathing and breathing techniques, play a pivotal part in maintaining and regulating your ‘Prana’, it enhances a person’s mindfulness, emotional wellbeing and mental health. Put simply, our mental health and the way we perceive things can be heavily influenced by our breathing techniques.

Location: Anywhere that is safe, quiet and warm
Difficulty Level: Suitable for all levels