If you don’t know your Bikram from your Ashtanga, our first health and fitness feature by local yoga teacher, Jackie Haigh, will guide you through five different types to help you find the one for you – whatever your age and however flexible you may or may not be.
“The reasons above are just some of the ones I hear when trying to persuade friends, family and even complete strangers to try yoga for the first time. It’s a big step for many but a step in the right direction for the bodies and minds of those that take it,” says Jackie who owns and runs The Little Yoga Studio London in East Sheen.
The benefits of yoga are numerous for both body and mind and the good news is that yoga is available to anyone and everyone, including children and babies. According to Jackie, if you can breathe you can do yoga! It’s a question of finding the right style, the right teacher, the right format, the right level and the right venue.
With so many different styles of yoga out there, who knows when and where to start? To make it a little easier here are Jackie’s top 5 styles of yoga explained.
Vinyasa Flow Yoga: active, athletic and strengthening
My favourite style of yoga and the one I teach! It’s relatively new by yoga standards and hails from the US. Vinyasa Flow takes elements of Ashtanga, Iyengar and Viniyoga. It’s a dynamic form of yoga which links movement to the breath, with each posture flowing into the other in a dance-like way. It usually begins with a number of Sun Salutations which can vary depending on the class. There’s a strong focus on your breathing (Ujjayi breath). There will be music in class which matches the sequence of poses and will vary from teacher to teacher. It’s an active and athletic style of yoga but it’s available to anyone who’s willing to give it a go as modifications to certain postures are encouraged. This yoga will make you stronger in both mind and body.
Hatha Yoga: slower paced, good for beginners
In a way Hatha Yoga is the basis of all yoga. It simply refers to the practice of physical postures. It is slower paced than the above but it’s just as strong. You hold the poses for longer. Some would say it is good for beginners as you can take time to learn each pose.
Iyengar Yoga: slower paced, uses props, good for beginners
I find this quite a strict form of yoga. If however, you are detail-oriented, this could be the yoga for you. It is much slower paced and you use a lot of props. Great if you are working with any injuries or just prefer a slower practice. You learn a lot about your body and build strength in holding poses for a great length of time.
Bikram: good for beginners, the strong, athletic and anyone who likes a challenge!
The Marmite of yoga ~ some love it, some hate it! This was my first exposure to yoga and I was a lover, not a hater. Bikram involves 26 poses in a sequence that never changes and 2 breathing exercises, practised in 40-degree heat for 90 minutes. A room full of scantily clad people, learning to breath in crazy heat but all coming out with an amazing sense of strength and achievement. This is great for beginners as well as those looking for a strong challenge!
Ashtanga Yoga: strong, dynamic and physically demanding – great for strength and tone
This is a super strong, physically demanding practice, which follows a set of prescribed poses in 90 minutes. There are 6 series in total (Primary, Intermediate and four Advanced). It is dynamic and again links movement to the breath. It’s great for building core strength and toning the body. I try to practice the primary series every morning and I feel a strong sense of calm afterwards. It’s almost like a moving meditation.
Yoga isn’t a “one size fits all” practice so you will need to take your time and try out a few different classes and different teachers until you find one that resonates with you. Don’t let a bad experience put you off as once you’ve found the right yoga and teacher, you’ll never look back.We’re lucky to live in East Sheen where there are plenty of very good local yoga teachers and classes. You can join group classes or if you’d prefer to learn the basics on a one-to-one basis this is also available, says Jackie.
Thank you to Jackie Haigh of The Little Yoga Studio London for this feature and advice.
The Little Yoga Studio London | 07875 675604 | Facebook | Twitter
Here’s a selection of local yoga teachers – classes can be group or 1-2-1, in private homes or venues including the Sheen Therapy Centre, East Sheen Primary School, Bank of England Sports Centre or Sheen Lawn Tennis Club.
Jackie Haigh – The Little Yoga Studio London – Vinyasa Flow and Postnatal Mummy & Baby Yoga
Diane King – Hatha, Restorative, Pregnancy and Fertility | www.djyoga.co.uk
Helen Currie – Bikram Yoga | www.bikramyogachiswick.co.uk – SW14 resident, Chiswick studio.
Isabel Grove – Ashtanga Yoga | Samothraka@gmail.com
Laughing Lion Yoga – | www.laughinglionyoga.com
Penny Raggett – Vinyasa / Power / Hatha | email@example.com
Jackybeyoga – Dynamic | www.jackiebeyoga.com