Protect your home with RACV Home Insurance
Beginner’s guide to yoga: Which style is best for you?
A guide to the different styles of yoga and which is best for your body.
Developed over centuries and with roots in India and the Himalayas, yoga and its teachings of connection between the body and mind have made their way around the world, gaining particular popularity in Western cultures in recent decades.
It’s little surprise, with benefits ranging from increased flexibility and strength, to stress and anxiety reduction and increased focus. New research from the University of South Australia has found that movement-based yoga can significantly improve mental health.
“Our research shows that movement-based yoga improved symptoms of depression (or improved mental health) for people living with a range of mental health conditions including anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and major depression,” says lead researcher Jacinta Brinsley. “So, it’s very good news for people struggling in times of uncertainty.”
As we settle into a slower pace of life and adjust to home workouts, many yoga studios have opened up their doors (virtually), giving an opportunity to explore whether this practice is for you.
With so many styles of yoga to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start, so with the help of Lisa Allwell, co-founder of Seed Yoga + Wellness in Melbourne’s south-east, we’ve broken down the most common forms of yoga to get you downward-dogging in no time.
What’s involved: Yin is a slow, calming practice. It focuses on fascias or connective tissue rather than muscle, targeting areas such as your hips, shoulders and spine as you engage in deeper poses than you would with other forms of yoga. In Yin, the emphasis isn’t on moving freely through positions, but holding poses for longer (often three to five minutes or more) and connecting with your breath.
Difficulty level: Beginner, with scope to choose more challenging poses.
Best for: Those seeking a very mindful practice, with its slow, meditative movements of all parts of the body.
What’s involved: A form of Hatha yoga, Iyengar was developed by B.K.S Iyengar, who is credited with helping to bring a modernised form of yoga to the West. The practice is quite technical and slow, and focuses on the alignment of the body. It uses many props, including blocks, straps and occasionally ropes.
Difficulty level: Intermediate.
Best for: People who want to learn the mechanics of each pose and understand how the body moves.
What’s involved: Vinyasa is about learning to move with your breath. It’s a less static practice, where you ‘breathe your way’ from one pose to the next. The flow of movements are considered and continuous.
Difficulty level: Suitable for beginners, but poses can be adjusted to your skill level and flexibility.
Best for: Stress reduction, and an approachable introduction to yoga. This is a very popular form of yoga, particularly in the West.