Yoga by Personality
Choosing the right practice for you is more than just knowing how to do a downward dog…
By now you’ve probably heard about all of the physical and mental benefits of yoga and you may have decided that the time has come to try a class. So, you’re checking out the schedule at your local studio and you’re inundated with classes that go by names such as Vinyasa and Iyengar.
How do you choose the yoga style that’s right for you? Start with what it is you want to get out of a yoga practice-fitness, strength, stress reduction? Then think about how you learn and move best. Are you slow and methodical, or more athletic or expressive?
Here’s a little cheat sheet to help you know where to start and what style of yoga is most appropriate for you. We’ve given each yoga type a number of sticky mats to rate its intensity from low to high.
Restorative The focus here is relaxation. If you’re looking to de-stress, or you’re just simply not up for a fast-paced yoga class, this is the place for you.
Rating: 2 Sticky Mats – Props are used in this class to obtain maximum relaxation. This is a terrific class to incorporate into your yoga practice to relax, renew and restore.
Hatha This class blends many forms of yoga and allows students to alleviate stress and tension.
Rating: 3 Sticky Mats – This is a terrific class to use as an introduction to yoga. You’ll get to try multiple styles of yoga, and students are encouraged to move at their own pace.
Anusara While these classes also focus on alignment and use of props, they integrate more personal creativity and lightheartedness into the practice. Students are encouraged to express themselves and have fun.
Rating: 4 Sticky Mats – The use of props makes these classes accessible to many people and the fun, uplifting style is apparent in heart opening and back-bending poses.
Iyengar This is a class focused on alignment. Props such as blankets, blocks and straps are utilized to help students move perfectly into poses. This is a great place to start if you’re interested in learning the rudiments of poses.
Rating: 5 Sticky Mats – If you want to build a solid foundation for your practice or you enjoy perfecting poses, then this is the class for you.
Bikram This style entails a series of 26 poses done in a highly heated room. It’s a great style for sweating and weight loss, so long as you can stand hot temperatures.
Rating: 7 Sticky Mats – If you determine how hard you’ve worked by how much you’ve sweated, this is the class for you.
Vinyasa This class is focused on connecting movement and breath. You’ll move through poses on inhalations and exhalations, and these classes tend to be a quick pace. It’s ideal for people who crave a more challenging yoga class and enjoy the creativity and movement within a flow.
Rating: 7 Sticky Mats – If you’re interested in trying out a Vinyasa class, call around and find the appropriate one for you (whether beginner, intermediate or advanced) and honor your body through the flow.
Ashtanga This is a specific series of poses taught in a speedy sequence. It’s great for people looking to combine their cardio, strength and yoga in one class. Those looking for a more athletic approach to yoga will appreciate this type of class.
Rating: 9 Sticky Mats – You need to know your poses before jumping into an Ashtanga class. This style is especially appealing to those who enjoy mastering a sequence and getting into their own groove.
To learn more about yoga styles and to see specific poses, check out Yoga Journal.
Bonnie Schmidt is a certified yoga instructor with a background in stress and anxiety relief. She leads workshops that teach how to incorporate a stress-relieving practice into daily life and how to understand the root causes of stress. Her web site, Anxiety to Zen, is dedicated to educating and empowering people about anxiety disorders, and sharing tips and advice for anxiety sufferers.