Here is some commentary on some of the more familiar styles you’re likely to come across (not intended to be an exhaustive list). I hope this helps you to choose the most appropriate style of Yoga for you in this moment, remembering that your needs and preferences are likely to change over time.
Literally translates to 8 limbs. These limbs consist of;
Yama concerns our interaction with the world and suggests we should adopt principles of Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacarya (integrity in intimacy) and Aparigraha (non-greed).
Niyama is concerned with our personal discipline. The second limb of Yoga consists of Sauca (cleanliness, purity), Santosa (being content with what we have), Tapah (purification practices, maintaining heathy habits, learning from challenging situations), Svadhyaya (self-study). Isvara Pranidhana (faith, reverence to a higher intelligence).
Asana is the physical practice of Yoga.
Pranayama is the control of the breath.
Pratyahara is the withdrawal of sensory fascination.
Dharana consists of practices to enhance your concentration (preparation for meditation).
Dhyana is meditation.
Samadhi is the result of meditation. A state of Devine bliss, being totally liberated and at one with the Universe.
Hatha refers to a style of Yoga accessed through connection with the body. Hatha classes are likely to have a strong asana component and you can be forgiven for thinking this is all there is to Hatha. However, this style of Yoga includes the eight limbs whilst acknowledging that the discipline required of the first two limbs (Yama & Niyama) may not be realistic without first connecting with the body.
Iyengar Yoga is a popular style because of the efforts to make Yoga postures more readily accessible though the use of supports such as blocks, bolsters, blankets, and various frame and rope supports (regularly used when learning inversions such as headstand). As with Hatha, the eight limbs are still relevant to Iyengar Yoga.
A restorative Yoga class is one in which postures and practices are specifically structured so as to be restorative to the body and mind. Typically a restorative class would be less physically challenging and may include postures such as supported forward bends, inversions and gentle breathing practices.
Yin Yoga is designed to target the joints, ligaments and fascia. A Yin Yoga class consists of passive poses held for long periods of time, interspersed with neutral or counter-postures. Each pose is held for approximately 3-5 minutes.
I have noticed that Yin and restorative Yoga are often referenced interchangeably, however this is not strictly correct. Whilst Yin can be restorative, not all restorative classes are Yin Yoga. The primary distinction is that the muscles are not the target of Yin Yoga, in fact it is preferable for the muscles to be cold so as the stretch acts on the ligaments, fascia and joints.
Yoga therapy is the practice of Yoga to enhance address specific health problems. Yoga therapy is generally conducted 1-1 and should not be confused with private Yoga classes. A therapeutic routine consists of a balanced practice and is likely to include asana, pranayama, deep relaxation, meditation or mantra (sound therapy) as well as lifestyle and dietary considerations.
“I have practiced yoga for over 15 years and hold a diploma of integral yoga.
I embrace yoga and play because they contribute significantly to my well-being and capacity to remain resilient.”