What does your class mean?
Everyone knows yoga is good for you.
And never has the practice been as widely embraced.
But for those who don’t know their ashtanga from a hatha hole in the ground, venturing into a yoga class can be leap of faith.
Will you be in for a relaxing practice, or inducted into an intense, heat-filled torture session?
Worry no more fellow yogis, the following is a yoga cheat sheet so you’ll know what you’re getting into before unrolling your mat:
Hatha: Hatha is a generic term referring to any type of yoga that includes physical postures. Thus hatha classes are often a gentle introduction to the most basic yoga postures. And while participants might not work up a sweat, they should leave feeling loose, more relaxed and knowing some basic yoga postures.
Fun fact: Nearly every type of Western yoga class is derived from hatha yoga.
Vinyasa: Vinyasa classes are fluid and choreographed yet filled with intense movements often set to music. During the practice participants smoothly transition from pose to pose. The beauty of the style is that no two vinyasa classes are the alike.
Fun fact: Vinyasa (pronounced “vin-yah-sah”) is the Sanskrit word for “flow”.
Ashtanga: Ashtanga is a hot, sweaty, physically demanding practice that follows a specific sequence of postures. And while it is similar to vinyasa in that each links one movement to one breath, ashtanga’s practitioners usually perform the same poses in the same order.
Fun fact: Ashtanga was popularized and brought to the West in the 1970s by Pattabhi Jois (pronounced “pah-tah-bee joyce”).
Restorative/Yin: Restorative or yin classes are a gentle way to stretch and relax. Students use straps and blocks to prop themselves into passive poses that are held for an extended time. The practice allows the body to experience the benefits of a holding a pose at length but without exertion.
Fun fact: A restorative yin class is more rejuvenating than a nap.
Kundalini: Kundalini Yoga is a series of rapid, repetitive movements. The practice is designed to free energy stored in the lower body and move it upwards through the use of meditation, mantra, physical exercises and breathing techniques. Kundalini teachers often lead classes in call and response chanting.
Fun fact: The Sanskrit term “kundalini” means “that which is coiled”, referring to the energy coiled at the base of the spine, which can be released through the Kundalini practice.