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What style of yoga should you try?

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Yoga is a great way to build muscle strength, improve flexibility and bring your body into balance. When you’re trying to lose weight, adding yoga into your exercise routine can make a huge difference, helping you to tone up and increase your fitness level. Even better, it provides great mental health benefits at the same time, giving you a chance to relax and get in tune with your body while you work out.

And it’s not just about stretching and breathing. Yoga can be as much of a physical challenge as you want it to be. When you add yoga into your exercise plan, is recommended to take two classes per week, plus five to seven minutes each morning of basic poses such as sun salutations, standing poses and shoulder stands, which help to align your body and get the energy flowing.

But what type of yoga should you try? Iyengar, Hatha, Bikram and Ashtanga are some of the most popular styles, and have distinct benefits depending on your personal workout preferences and your strength and fitness aims. Find out below which style of yoga is most suited to you…


If you want to built strength and flexibility, give Iyengar a go. Iyengar yoga is led by an instructor who will take you through different poses, which you hold for up to two minutes to stretch and strengthen different muscle groups. There are over 200 different poses- so there’s plenty of variety here! Sometimes Iyengar classes will use equipment such as ropes and foam blocks to help beginners get used to new positions. Iyengar is a great way to build up core strength and improve your fitness- though it might seem slow and simple, it is quite a physical class. The deep, strong poses really work your muscles and help you to tone up and improve your overall strength.


If you enjoy meditation, Hatha is for you. Hatha yoga classes are gentle and relaxing, with a strong focus on the mind. The class format is likely to vary, as Hatha draws on range of different styles of yoga, but it will usually begin with deep breathing and relaxation exercises, then progress into some standing and sitting poses designed to increase strength and flexibility. Hatha is more spiritual experience than other forms of yoga, so it can give you great mental health benefits at the same time as stretching and lengthening the muscles.


Bikram hot yoga gives you a stronger cardio workout. These classes take place in a room heated almost to 40 degrees to help you stretch deeper into the muscles and increase flexibility. The heat also works to warm up the whole body, including the heart and lungs, making it a good cardiovascular challenge. Bikram classes will typically go through 26 poses in 90 minutes, and will include some relaxation exercises between poses. This is a good workout that you can do every day without putting too much strain on your muscles.


If you like to work out independently, give Ashtanga a try. After a few beginners classes where you learn to move through a set routine of poses in time with your breathing, you can move on to an independent class, where everyone works out at their own pace. Ashtanga is good for building up your stamina and strength, and is a good option if you are wanting to incorporate yoga into your everyday routine, as you can pick it up quite easily and do it in your own time. 

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