Our 101 Guide to the different types of yoga

There are so many benefits to yoga - including lower blood pressure, increased strength and bone density, increased flexibility and reduced anxiety. Plus, who doesn’t want to look cool walking around with their yoga mat? With the rise of the fitness/health saga (which is a great thing!), yoga has become a very popular exercise. However, with so many different options available it is hard to know which one is right for you. Geraldine Beirne, yogie/yoga teacher based in London (yogawithgeraldine.com and featured in The Guardian UK) provides a really simple breakdown into the most common forms of yoga available.

We also include our own tips about how to look after your skin while participating in yoga.  

IYENGAR YOGA

Iyengar and ashtanga yoga come from the same lineage – the teachers who developed these styles (BKS Iyengar and the late Pattabhi Jois) were both taught by Tirumalai Krishnamacharya. Many of the asanas (postures) are the same, but the approach is different. Iyengar yoga is great for learning the subtleties of correct alignment. Props – belts, blocks and pillow-like bolsters – help beginners get into poses with correct alignment, even when they're new to them, injured or simply stiff. Anusara yoga is a more modern form of Iyengar.

TBC Fulham Tip? This yoga is not as intense as others so you can go after work wearing make-up if needed. Try to wear clothes that are cotton based to allow for breathing.


ASHTANGA YOGA

Ashtanga is a more vigorous style of yoga. It offers a series of poses, each held for only five breaths and punctuated by a half sun salutation to keep up the pace. You can either attend a regular class or the more traditional Mysore style (see below).

TBC Fulham Tip? We recommend going with a bare face for this class as you will sweat. We also recommend a monthly facial if you participate in this kind of yoga to clear and clean the skin and remove any build up to avoid blackheads. 

MYSORE STYLE YOGA

Ashtanga yoga taught one-to-one in a group setting. Students turn up at any time within a three-hour window to do their own practice as taught by their teacher. This is my preferred style of learning yoga and, I think, the safest and most traditional. You go at your own pace, on your own breath.

TBC Fulham Tip? A nice ‘go at your own pace’ yoga. So if you are going for a relaxed, stretch wearing light makeup is fine.

VINYASA YOGA

Teachers lead classes that flow from one pose to the next without stopping to talk about the finer points of each pose. That way, students come away with a good workout as well as a yoga experience. If you're new to yoga, it is a good idea to take a few classes in a slower style of yoga first to get a feel for the poses. Vinyasa flow is really an umbrella term for many other styles. Some studios call it flow yoga, flow-style yoga, dynamic yoga or vinyasa flow. It is influenced by ashtanga yoga.

TBC Fulham Tip? This yoga is not as intense as others so you can go after work wearing make-up if needed. You also don't go as red and flushed so you could pop out for a lunch or dinner afterwards (a great one that doesn't interfere with your schedule).

BIKRAM YOGA

Bikram yoga is the favourite of anyone who loves to sweat. It was created by Indian yogi Bikram Choudhury in the early 1970s. He designed a sequence of 26 yoga poses to stretch and strengthen the muscles as well as compress and "rinse" the organs of the body. The poses are done in a heated room to facilitate the release of toxins. Every bikram class you go to, anywhere in the world, follows the same sequence of 26 poses.

TBC Fulham Tip? You definitely sweat A LOT in bikram. Avoid make up and attending a class after a spray tan or facial. 

KUNDALINI YOGA

Kundalini yoga was designed to awaken energy in the spine. Kundalini yoga classes include meditation, breathing techniques such as alternate nostril breathing, and chanting, as well as yoga postures.

TBC Fulham Tip? This yoga is very calming. We feel it is more of a fantastic stretch and tone, so attending before or after work with makeup is fine. You could also go for dinner or a drink afterwards! (we won't be too flushed!) 

HATHA YOGA

Hatha yoga really just means the physical practice of yoga (asanas as opposed to, say, chanting). Hatha yoga now commonly refers to a class that is not so flowing and bypasses the various traditions of yoga to focus on the asanas that are common to all. It is often a gentle yoga class.

TBC Fulham Tip? We recommend going with a bare face for this class as you will sweat. We also recommend a monthly facial if you participate in this kind of yoga to clear and clean the skin and remove any build up to avoid blackheads. 

YIN YOGA

Yin yoga comes from the Taoist tradition and focuses on passive, seated postures that target the connective tissues in the hips, pelvis and lower spine. Poses are held for anywhere between one and 10 minutes. The aim is to increase flexibility and encourage a feeling of release and letting go. It is a wonderful way to learn the basics of meditation and stilling the mind. As such, it is ideal for athletic types who need to release tension in overworked joints, and it is also good for those who need to relax.

TBC Fulham Tip? Another great, calming yoga and a great yoga to start with to ease yourself into it. Again, not much sweating so fine to go with some make up on! You could even go with clean hair and not need to wash it afterwards (great timesaver!).

RESTORATIVE YOGA

Restorative yoga is all about healing the mind and body through simple poses often held for as long as 20 minutes, with the help of props such as bolsters, pillows and straps. It is similar to yin yoga, but with less emphasis on flexibility and more on relaxing.

TBC Fulham Tip? This one is less intense so you can go after a facial or treatment (excluding a spray tan).  Also if you are going after work a little bit of makeup is ok.

JIVAMUKTI YOGA

Founded in 1984 by David Life and Sharon Gannon, Jivamukti means "liberation while living". This is a vinyasa-style practice with themed classes, often including chanting, music and scripture readings. Jivamukti teachers encourage students to apply yogic philosophy to their daily life.

TBC Fulham Tip? This is one of our favourite times of yoga. It is a bit harder than you think and we ended up sweating a lot more than expected! Avoid spray tan and makeup in this class. Also hold off booking your facial for the day after. 

So there you have it. Hopefully this helps give you a better idea into what is the right yoga for you. A few girls at The Beauty Clinic Fulham often practice a couple of different forms (depending on how they are feeling). Why not try out one you haven’t tried before! Who knows, you might be the next Instagram Yogie extraordinaire! 

Until next time,

The Beauty Clinic Fulham

Words from The Guardian UK and Geraldine Beirne