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What are the most popular styles of yoga, and what is the difference between them?

With it now being the 21st century, there are many wonderful styles of yoga around to choose from.  For me, as a long-time dedicated yoga fan, this is both a blessing and a curse as the question arises; if you really love yoga, which one do you do for maximum results when you do not have the time to practice them all?  Well, according to the ten thousand people from 147 different countries who participated in the DOYOU Global Yoga Survey this past year, we can see trends that answered some of the most burning questions, including: what are the most popular yoga styles that people practice most often?   Also, in this article, we shall look at what is the difference between them to help you decide how best to spend your valuable and sacred yoga time to really get the most from it.

1. Vinyasa Flow yoga

The style coming out on top with a whopping 57% of the vote was Vinyasa flow yoga.  This style is usually a much faster pace than other styles and has its roots in Ashtanga yoga – the 20th century yoga created by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, student of the great yogi Krishnamacharya.  It is often a very creative style and can be customised to suit a wide range of student abilities and levels.  The pace can range from a delicious, slow and sensual heartful flow to a pacey, dynamic sequence including strong arm-balances and inversions (tipping the body upside down in to handstands and forearm balances) to really build strength and get the blood pumping.   It very much depends on how it is taught and who by, but usually it is less spiritual than other styles of yoga and more focused on the physical body and postures which suits a larger variety of people.  Sequences often start gently and they often build towards a peak posture opening and strengthening various body parts to allow you to do so safely and effectively.

2. Hatha yoga

With 42% of the vote, Hatha yoga came in at second place.  This style of yoga is a much slower paced yoga with postures being held for longer.  It has been around since the beginning of time when yoga began, and it is considered a Raja or king yoga.  Hatha translates as Sun and Moon yoga or yin and yang, masculine and feminine.  It seeks to balance these energies within the individual being creating balance and harmony.   Again, it very much depends on who is teaching it and how it is taught but it is often considered to be a more spiritual form of yoga with discussions on the 7 chakras (7 wheels or energy centres in the body) and the 5 koshas (5 bodies or layers) much more common than in other styles.  Those with a keen interest in raising their vibration spiritually speaking, are more often drawn to this style of yoga.

3.  Restorative yoga

People also seem to really like their restorative yoga with 29% of responders saying they preferred this style as their primary yoga class.  It is the gentlest style around and perfect for when your energy is low and you just don’t have the strength for one of the other styles and really need to recharge your batteries and release tension.  You essentially lay over a bolster (or bolsters) and other props for the entire duration of the class, moving from one posture to the next very slowly and mindfully.  You may even just do one posture for the whole class if you choose to or move between a few postures, spending between 3-15 minutes in each posture.  It is the ultimate nervous system re-set, lighting up the para-sympathetic part, or rest and digest, and therefore giving the over-used sympathetic, or fight or flight part, some much needed time-off.  This style can also be used in a therapeutic way to treat a wide variety of 21st century ailments including insomnia, anxiety and depression.

Claire Smith teaches Vinyasa flow, Hatha and restorative yoga and yoga therapy for Insomnia in Muswell Hill and surrounding areas.  For this and other yoga related interest please email: info@clairesmithyoga.com

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Yoga

Claire Smith Yoga Instruction View All

A yoga and meditation teacher based in the heart of London.

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