YOGA STYLES EXPLAINED
In Sanskrit, Vinyasa means “to place in a special way,” therefore each sequence is designed carefully to bring alignment, with movement being initiated by inhales and exhales. Poses are continuous, and effortlessly flow into the other, almost like a dance. Hence why it is also referred to as 'Flow Yoga'. Sun Salutations, Downward Facing Dog and Chaturanga are heavily practiced in a Vinyasa class. Expect more movement than other styles such as Hatha and Yin.
As the name suggests, this style is similar to Vinyasa. You still find yourself flowing from pose to pose, harnessing your breath but don't expect to break into a sweat. Tuning into your body and stilling the mind is key in this practice; slowing down the pace allows for this. You'll have time to stretch out your muscles and learn about correct alignment in each pose. This is key for when you move onto the faster paced styles so perfect for beginners!
Yin is a contemplative and passive form of Yoga; it's much slower paced than other styles. As so, expect to be seated or reclined for the majority of the class. Poses are held with the muscles fully relaxed and for longer periods of time, targeting the deep layers of fascia and stretching connective tissue around the joints. By opening up our bodies in such a way, it is believed to help open up blocked energy paths, allowing them to flow freely. You'll feel like you're floating on a cloud after a Yin class.
Hatha is an umbrella term for all physical Yoga practices (Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Power), however it is also a style in it's own right. In a Hatha Class, movements and postures are taken thoughtfully to help calm the mind and the soul, all whilst aligning the body. It differs from Vinyasa as there is no emphasis on flow of movement; static postures are held and have no transition into one another. The quote, 'The pose begins when you want to get out of it' resonates here. A perfect practice for beginners.
It is based on the scientifically-proven premise that our skeletons, tissues, physiology, temperament and motivation are made and organised in a way that is uniquely ours. This uniqueness comes with the whole package of talents and limitations that constitute who we are. In other words, it means that some of us are musical but bad with numbers, others can run for miles but cannot sit cross-legged on the floor. All integrated movements means, is that our muscles must work together across multiple joints to perform the specific action. Done correctly, they place a demand on the core muscles and help the different muscles involved to ‘pull their weight’ or ‘play their role’ so to speak. This integrated movement helps to balance muscle strength with muscle relaxation.
In short, is it working for you? If it is, it’s functional – carry on. If not, we need to change something, or many things, until it does.