How to find the right yoga class for you - even if you thought you hated yoga

Victoria Hall
How to find the right yoga class for you  

Yoga has always had a reputation for being a softer form of exercise, but in recent years it’s had a revival. Not least because several studies have revealed its endless health benefits, including a recent one in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, which found that it can be more effective for weight loss than resistance training. In 2013 the same journal reported that doing 20 minutes of hatha yoga regularly can boost your brain power

“A yoga practice can be as much about strength as flexibility; you’re not just looking to get bendier, but to move with control,” says yoga instructor Adam Hustler. “We spend most of our lives sitting hunched over our phones, computers and bikes and yoga helps correct this both mentally and physically.” Yoga instructor Niki Perry, who counts Kate Winslet as a regular agrees, “Yoga strengthens your core and improves your balance, which helps straighten your posture and boost your confidence.”

Expert tips on how to improve your workout

Olympian athletes, including Jessica Ennis Hill, have said that they complement their training with yoga, which has helped boost its popularity.

If all of the above still isn't enough to convince you, perhaps the new genre of yoga might. Enter, Hip Hop Yoga. A class held in One Ldn that blends chilled-out hip hop music with a vigorous Vinyasa flow class that takes place in a warm room. Expect to sweat throughout and feel that next-day post-workout ache not usually associated with yoga. One Ldn isn't the only gym to put a twist on tradition, Gym Box has introduced Rocket Yoga, which blends ashtanga with vinyasa practices for a fast-pace class.  The club also offers Aerial Yoga for those who want to seriously work their core.

Admittedly these classes are still centred on basic yoga practice and help improve your breathing technique, but they also push you further and promise more of a workout.  

For those still confused with the basics, here is an easy guide to the top five types of yoga to help you find the right class for you...

What are the different types of yoga - and which is best for you?

Hatha yoga

Traditionally ‘hatha’ is the word for yoga, but in the past few years hatha classes have cropped up. In most cases hatha classes tend to be gentler sessions, ideal for beginners.  

Astanga yoga

This is a more athletic style of yoga and is more physically demanding. Each pose is held for five breaths and ends in a sun salutation, so if you’re not keen on downward dogs and planks this might be one to skip.

Credit: VS Sport

Vinyasa yoga

If you want to recharge, but also feel like you’ve worked out then a vinyasa flow yoga class is a great option. The instructor goes through a series of poses that flow together. It bridges the gap between hatha and astanga styles.

Bikram yoga

Generally Bikram yoga sessions tend to consist of a series of 26 poses, which are performed in 40°c. It goes without saying, but you should be prepared to sweat, a lot. Drink plenty of water before and during, and pack a couple of towels (one to keep your grip on the matt and another to keep dry).  

Restorative yoga

If you’re feeling seriously stressed or are recovering from an injury, restorative yoga can be a game-changer. Expect to spend a lot of time supported by a bolster as individual poses are held for between eight and 20 minutes, for each side of your body. It’s as effective physically as it is mentally.

It is worth noting though that no two yoga classes are the same and often it’s just as much about finding the right instructor as it is finding the right type...

 

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