An Introduction to Yoga and Yoga Styles

Yoga comprises a philosophy for living and part of that philosophy is centred around connecting mind and body through controlling the breath and practicing asanas or yoga postures. All Yoga Styles such as Yin, Vinyasa, Hatha, Ashtanga, Yoga Nidra (Restorative) etc are derived from the same set of postures. The difference is in how the postures are put together, if there is a set sequence, if the postures are held for a set number of breaths or for longer and longer amounts of time as practice progresses. Also if in the practice of postures uses props such as blocks, blankets, straps, bolsters and benches are utilised.

What are the styles and which style is right for me?

As you read through the styles keep in mind that as you practice yoga your strength, flexibility, stamina and calmness of mind will improve and change. Some people enjoy taking the same classes, whilst others change over time as their needs and interest change. The classes are designed progressively so as you grow their will be a class to challenge you.

Yoga for Beginners

These classes are designed for the first time practitioner to investigate and explore the movements and breathing techniques for basic yoga postures known as asanas in Sanskrit. Twice weekly is the minimum requirement to master the beginner’s level in alignment, basic anatomy, and breathing. Your yoga instructor will assess your physical capacities and guide you on how to perform the asanasa based on your level and needs. The focus in Beginners is teaching the correct form and alignment, this is crucial to avoid injury.

After two weeks there is improved lung capacity, increase flexibility, and lower stress levels.

Gentle Flow Yoga

The word for flow in Sanskrit is Vinyasa. Gentle Flow or Vinyasa yoga builds on the fundamentals of Yoga for Beginners by practicing the postures you have learnt and moving from posture to posture in a gentle but continuous movement. Postures are held for 3 to 5 breaths and this continuous flow means the postures are not strenuous. This class is great for those with a busy mind who find it hard to relax and concentrate, the athletic person who is new to yoga and wants the benefits of stretching but still feels the need for movement and anyone who wants a dynamic class.

In Gentle Flow Yoga, the practitioner will learn where and how to breathe and they will learn how to connect the breath in a series of fluid movement. From the beginning of the class to final relaxation, each movement is strung together like “pearls on a string” and there is a seamless flow that is both calming and rejuvenating.

Flow Yoga

Flow Yoga builds on Gentle Flow and is for the student who is confident in the basic postures and movements and who is able to adjust a posture to their level of practice. It will include Surya Namaskar (sun salutations), inversions and back bends. This style is also great for those who have been practicing yoga regularly for at least 6 -12 months. Those with a lot of yoga experience will benefit from the higher level of expertise required and the postures will be modified to suit your level of experience. If you want a more physically challenging class this is for you.

Beginners Hatha Yoga

Hatha Yoga is the heart of all yoga styles and disciplines. It is the three pronged combination of disciplined action, asanas (postures) and controlled breathing. During a Hatha yoga class, there will be a segment where there is deep breathing, silent concentration, and relaxation. The main segment of the class will be asanas or postures that are aligned according to the students ability. Beginners Hatha introduces the student to the asanas or postures, and the importance of proper alignment and muscle activation and deactivation. Hatha Yoga includes the use of blankets, blocks, straps and bolsters to aid in performing the movements and for comfort.

Postures are held long enough to understand the structure of the pose, the demands it places on muscles and highlights where in the body may need more work or attention. If you find you are unable to hold a posture for the length demonstrated in class or are unable to perform a posture your Yoga Instructor will provide a modification to help you build the necessary strength to be able to perform and hold the postures for the required time. Beginners classes go for 45 minutes so the class can be enjoyed in your lunch break and you will not find them too demanding.

Hatha Yoga

Unlike Gentle Flow (Vinyasa) Yoga, Hatha Yoga involves holding postures for 15 – 20 breaths or longer and is perfect for those who want to get deeper into the stretch and explore how their bodies are feeling.. The purpose of this class is to build the mental, emotional and physical faculties. By holding postures for longer periods you start to understand the weaknesses and strengths of your body, you build concentration, patience, focus and stamina. Where Gentle Flow provides a dynamic movement that occupies the mind Hatha brings stillness and allows for a deeper connection between mind and body. Whilst this can be challenging to those who find it difficult to relax and concentrate it also provides benefits that improve life in many areas. You will increase strength, flexibility, improve sleep and feel a sense of control that is often lacking for many.

Ashtanga Led Sequence

Ashtanga follows a set series of postures from what is known as the Primary Series of Postures. Ashtanga Led Sequence includes the full Standing Series Sequence along with part of the Seated Sequence and the Finishing Sequence. This class is for those who already know and can smoothly move through the Ashtanga Standing Sequence as there is no instruction given for this part of the series. The additional parts to this class can change from week to week and are designed to work different muscle areas such as abdominals, back and hips and provide variety and harder workout. This class is not for beginners, it is suitable for students who have proficiency in the Standing Sequence or who have practiced yoga before.

Hip-opening Sequence

Hip Opening Sequence focuses primarily on the hips including adductors, glutes, lower back, and generally lengthening the major back muscles such as lats. This sequence is excellent for lower back pain and aching, leg stiffness, tight hip flexors, tight quads, and the symptoms associated with Lower Cross Syndrome. Lower Cross is a set of tight and weak muscles that results in an anterior tilt to the pelvis. It is characterised by tight lower back muscles, tight hip flexors & quads, weak abdominals and weak glutes. In laymans terms it creates a bit of a tummy and a protruding bottom. It also results in lower back pain and sometimes sciatica.

Restorative Yoga

We offer one class on a Friday afternoon and it is the perfect way to transition from a busy week to a relaxing weekend. Restorative yoga uses bolsters, lots of blankets, candles, lovely scents and eye pillows. Restorative involves positions that are very supported and we lay in these positions for extended periods. The use of bolsters and blankets means that you are supported in the posture so whilst your body will still need to work it is more about letting go rather than holding and working hard.