Part two of the different styles of yoga delves in to some very different styles, here goes!
Based on the teachings of B.K.S Iyengar, this style focuses on alignment and uses blocks, straps, incline boards, blankets etc. to get the student into perfect alignment. These classes emphasize actively holding poses for extended periods of time so that the yogi can feel and engage in every single subtlety that is required for each pose. These classes are challenging for the body but also for the mind as not may poses are practiced - you won’t be flowing in this style. With it’s focus on proper alignment and use of props these classes are actually very good for people with injuries as they teach the student how to work with their bodies and limitations.
Bikram yoga is the style of yoga made specifically for westerners by Bikram Choudry. Bikram is a set of 26 postures performed in sets of two and 2 pranayama (breath) exercises practiced in a heated room for 90 minutes. Every single Bikram class is practiced exactly the same. They use a script made by Bikram himself and it is very strict in terms of verbiage. This style of yoga is very popular in the west and it is relatively easy to find a Bikram studio in many cities around the US. Since Bikram yoga is strict about their teachers, a class can only be called Bikram yoga if they have taken the training with Bikram or at his school in California. Many studios get around this by labeling their classes “Sequence” classes. If you see this on a yoga schedule it usually means you’ll be doing the trademarked 26-posture sequence with slight variations made to avoid copyright infringement.
This class is HOT, insanely hot, I’m talking 105 degrees 40% humidity hot. If you will be attending a class make sure to stay hydrated throughout the day not just a few hours beforehand. Bikram is hot yoga but not all hot yoga is Bikram; remember Vinyasa and even Yin yoga can all be practiced in a hot room. The selection of poses themselves are not very difficult but anything done in a high heat, high humidity room becomes challenging. Most yogis have tried a Bikram class at one point or another and if you ask for their opinion on it, you will get a million different responses. Try it for yourself and see if this style works for you.
Yin yoga is a passive style of yoga where poses are held for five to ten minutes at a time. Don’t worry yogis, this doesn’t mean you’ll be holding triangle pose for seven minutes, the class is completely mat based, meaning, no standing poses allowed. The emphasis is on the lower half of the body- legs, hips, and lower back. Focusing on letting gravity take you deep into a pose, staying present, and navigating the inner landscape. Here the practitioner is trying to access the deeper connective tissue, fascia, and joints. Yin is great for people with any sort of pain, injury or those wishing to gain more flexibility from their practice. But just because this class is labeled as “passive” does not mean it is easy! The journey inward can be hard in a culture where we are always moving and go-go-go. Yin classes teach the body and mind to relax and facilitate awareness to the present moment. Yin is a great compliment to any physical practice, be it yoga, crossfit, running, baseball, or anything that is physically demanding.