Yoga: from restorative to dynamic, which class is best?
Hatha, Yin, Vinyasa or Ashtanga? Your yoga asanas, or poses, might be similar across styles of classes but their sequence, speed and progressions will vary. So if you’re curious about yoga classes in Melbourne but don’t know your trikonasanas from your savasana, fear not! Read our handy guide below to understand the differences between the many styles of yoga.
Yin yoga is one of the gentler styles of yoga as poses are typically held for 3 to 10 minutes. A typical class focuses on releasing the connective tissue in the spine, hips and pelvis, making it a great option if you experience tightness or pain in this region. Highly restorative, yin is effective at increasing your body’s mobility and can be meditative and is good for relieving stress.
Hatha classes are a great way to refine your alignment in your poses and introduce props, straps or blankets into your yoga practice. Progressions and regressions will be offered to suit your skill level, making it suitable for a wide variety of people.
Ashtanga is a more vigorous style of yoga that delivers a sound cardiovascular workout. As you gain experience, you can progress to powerful transitions where you jump in and out of various poses. This makes Ashtanga great for joint strength and cross training those plyometric gym exercises. These classes follow a set sequence of progressively difficult poses, where each asana is typically held for five breaths.
In contrast, a Vinyasa style will vary its sequences each class, often to suit the classes’ participants. Your practice typically builds up to a peak pose (toughest part of the class) and will then slow down allowing for recovery and stretching. Vinyasa is a style of flow yoga, linking breath with changes in position, good for someone who likes to be active.
Flow classes might be fast (such as power flow) or slow, which of course, refers to the pace at which the class moves. However, don’t think that slow flow is a walk in the park. The long holding of poses with slower transitions either allows you to rest or gives you the chance to challenge your endurance and form. Dynamic flow classes use music to encourage your use of breath to compliment the continuing flow of asanas that you move through.
As an added layer, many of these styles of yoga can be performed in a hot environment ranging from 25-38 degrees. The heat allows the body to be more mobile, while the increased sweat factor aids detoxification of the body.
While many people are devotees of a certain style, the practice of yoga encourages balance between the physical, emotional and spiritual. Therefore, it makes sense to challenge your strength with a more dynamic class on some days, while on others, your body will benefit from restorative yin practice. Ideally, by catering to your emotional and physical state, you should adjust your practice. So, explore a variety of styles and keep their nuances in mind when you’re scheduling in your classes. Namaste!