Yoga Beginners Guide, Which Style is Best for You?

I’ve written in other articles about the myriad of benefits yoga can potentially offer – but as a recap these can include lower blood pressure, increased strength and even reduced anxiety. With so many varieties to choose from and some misinformation like “Yoga is slow and boring; it's practised in stuffy, incense-filled rooms; it's just for girls and people who are into chanting.” I wanted to create a clear path for anyone considering investing some time in picking up the practice.

The truth is, I’m confident there is a class to suit you. Here at Wave yoga, we believe the practice of Yoga develops strength and balance as well as flexibility. Let’s be clear you do not have to start out with a level of flexibility, it will come over time - practice makes perfect as the saying goes.

As with most yoga practices, having a good teacher or instructor will enhance your appreciation of Yoga, but finding one that suits you can be challenging. Being Bristol based we are working on that challenge by building a Wave Yoga Bristol Community that will bring a collection of teachers and instructors to you all in one place.

Which Style is Best For You?

If you're already doing lots of strength training you may want to focus on a yoga style that focuses on flexibility. Think of it as balancing your overall routine. Perhaps try Hatha yoga or Yin yoga.

If you have an injury or perhaps manage a chronic medical condition, for example arthritis you might want to try Iyengar yoga. Think of it as a chance to focus on alignment and any unique needs you might have.

If have a desire to explore the more spiritual side, you could try Jivamukti yoga.

For those looking to take on a more technically demanding Yoga practice you might want to try Ashtanga yoga, Vinyasa yoga or Vinyasa Flow styles.

My point is simply this, before you commit to any one discipline, try a few of the most common styles of yoga. When you think you've settled on a style of yoga you enjoy, try a few different instructors. What’s interesting is that all instructors will have their own unique focus based on their personalities, their own yoga practice and where and with whom they've trained.

Common Yoga Styles by Wave Sport & Fitness (Wave Yoga Bristol)

Hatha Yoga

(a gentle yoga class)

Hatha yoga just means the physical practice of yoga. Hatha yoga commonly refers to a class that is not so flowing and bypasses the various traditions of yoga to focus on the Asanas (the physical practice of yoga poses) that are common to all.

Yin Yoga

(athletic yoga, more demanding)

Yin yoga comes from the Taoist tradition and is said to focus on more passive, seated postures. The aim being to target the hips, pelvis and lower spine area. Poses are held for up to 10 minutes. Poses aim to increase flexibility, but also get you thinking about letting go, releasing tension. It has a strong affinity with meditation and mental well-being. Great practice for athletic types who need to release tension in the body and individuals who need to relax.

Ashtanga Yoga

(vigorous yoga)

Ashtanga Yoga is often referred to as a modern day form of classical Indian yoga, a more vigorous demanding style of yoga. Ashtanga is made up of a series of poses in a precise order, each held for only five breaths and punctuated by a half sun salutation. Great practice for athletic types who are looking to open up the hips and stretch the hamstrings.

Mysore Yoga

(great all round yoga)

Basically, Mysore yoga is Ashtanga yoga taught one-to-one in a group setting. Students turn up to do their own practice, (depending on their level) as taught by their teacher. Here at Wave Yoga Bristol we think it’s a great way to learn yoga. The focus and attention you get from your instructor means it’s arguably, the safest and most traditional way to learn. You go at your own pace! Great for beginners and is a great pathway practice to other forms of yoga.

Restorative Yoga

(a gentle restorative yoga class)

Restorative yoga is all about healing - the mind and body through. Made up of simple poses which can often be held for up to 5 minutes, fear not there are often a variety of props such as bolsters, pillows and straps to assist. Similar to yin yoga, but without a heavy emphasis on flexibility, great if you are looking to relax and release tension.

Jivamukti Yoga

(vigorous yoga)

Founded in 1984 by David Life and Sharon Gannon, Jivamukti means "liberation while living". Jivamukti is a physical, ethical, and spiritual practice, combining a vigorous yoga as exercise, in essence vinyasa yoga style practice with themed classes. It will often include chanting, music and scripture readings with adherence to five central tenets: shastra, bhakti, ahimsā, nāda, and dhyana. Jivamukti teachers encourage students to apply yogic philosophy to their daily life.

Vinyasa Flow

(vigorous yoga)

Flow’s are like stringing moves together seamlessly and in Vinyasa that’s exactly what your instructor will do. Flow from one pose to the next without stopping, that way students can come away with a good workout as well as a yoga experience. As a new yogi, it’s a good idea to get an understanding of poses before taking on a style like this which can move at a relatively fast pace. Vinyasa flow is relatively fluid and you may find that it is referred to as flow yoga, flow-style yoga, dynamic yoga or vinyasa flow. Nonetheless the style is heavily influenced by ashtanga yoga. Great practice for more advanced yogi.


Bikram Yoga

(vigorous yoga)

Bikram yoga made famous by Bikram Choudhry in the 1970’s. If you like to sweat and enjoy working out in the heat then this is for you. But it’s not for the faint hearted, the practice is designed as a sequence of 26 yoga poses to stretch and strengthen the muscles in a room heated to 105 °F with a humidity of 40%, intended to replicate the climate of India. All the while cleansing the organs of the body, the humidity facilitating the release of toxins.

Kundalini Yoga

(a gentle yoga class)

Kundalini yoga, In Hinduism - Kundalini is a form of divine feminine energy believed to be located at the base of the spine. It is believed that Kundalini yoga can awaken this energy. Kundalini yoga classes include meditation, breathing techniques such as alternate nostril breathing and chanting.

Compared with other forms of yoga, Kundalini yoga is a more spiritual practice. It still involves physical movements, but they aren't the primary focus. 

Lyengar Yoga

(vigorous yoga)

Iyengar yoga and ashtanga yoga come from the same roots – the teachers who developed them (BKS Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois) were both taught by Tirumalai Krishnamacharya. Many of the asanas are the same, but the approach a little different.

Iyengar yoga focusses on learning the subtleties of correct alignment. Similarly to restorative yoga, Props – help beginners get into poses. You may also hear the term Anusara yoga associated with Iyengar, it is simply a more modern form of Iyengar yoga.

Hopefully this gives you a brief insight into the different forms of yoga and how Wave Yoga Bristol can potentially help you in the future.

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