This is a question often asked by people who are new to yoga. What’s the
difference between Hatha and Vinyasa? How strong do I have to be before trying
Power yoga? What is Yin yoga anyway?
Over the centuries, Yoga has developed and evolved along several lineages. Each
has taken the basic principles of movement and breath work in different
directions resulting in a wide range of options that, though they are all called
yoga, are as different as night and day. Or, as we might say, as different as yin and
yang. So whether you’re new to yoga, to Bright Yoga or even if you’re a seasoned
yogi, you may not have a crystal clear picture of the different yoga styles, the
benefits they offer and whether or not they might be appropriate for you at this
time. To help you out, we have detailed on our website the various classes we
offer as a guide to help you chose the classes you will benefit from the most.
If you are new to yoga, it’s a great idea to start out with one of our Basics classes.
Our teachers will familiarize you with the terminology of yoga – the how-to’s of
the poses (asanas), breath work (pranayama), and use of props, as well as the
etiquette of joining a communal practice such as not banging on the door if you’re
late to arrive and class has begun to distracting your fellow students by taking
selfies during practice. Whether you’re fit and athletic or embarking on a plan to
move more, these class will benefit everyone.
From there you can join other classes that rely on a basic understanding of yoga.
You can move up through the Hatha 1/2 and 2/3 classes and when you’re ready,
try a Vinyasa class for a faster paced flow. For those who are more fit, Power and
Boot Camp classes will challenge you physically and require greater stamina and
strength. Remember, not everyone HAS to work up to the more advanced classes.
Every body is different and it’s more important to find a suitable class and level
that makes you feel better and not one that injures you or makes you feel
inadequate. Yoga is not a competition with others or even with yourself.
There are other active or “yang”-style classes such as Ashtanga – one of those
lineages that’s a little different from what most classes offer. In an Ashtanga class,
you will move a little faster and get sweatier and be challenged to get through a
set series of asanas, only moving on to the next pose as you master the last one.
For some, this challenge is just right.
On the flip side of the coin are the “yin”-style classes, such as Restorative and Yin
yoga. These classes are less about giving your muscles a workout and more about
releasing long-held tension from our joints and connective tissue. Yin yoga
encourages students to listen to their bodies while at “the edge” of a pose and
learn to allow release in the face of some discomfort. Restorative yoga uses an
abundance of props for release without any active stretch and poses are held for
up to 10-15 minutes. This alone can be quite challenging for Type A personalities
who find it difficult to endure the stillness lying in savasana at the end of a
People are often encouraged to start with one of these “yin” classes when they
are new to yoga because they don’t require that you be super flexible or have
great balance. Unfortunately, the result is that people leave feeling like the
couldn’t turn off their monkey minds and relax, and leave thinking “yoga just isn’t
for me”, never returning to try it again.
With non-stop stimuli coming our way in full force every day, it’s easier to get into
yoga by starting with a class that keeps you busy by moving your body. We are
simply used to being active. According to the Panca Koshas or Five Sheaths of
yoga, we must first purify our physical bodies (1) and connect with the river of
energy that flows through us as breath (2) in order to increase mental awareness
(3). With the first three layers in sync, we gain wisdom and deeper insight into the
world (4), until we encounter pure joy, peace and bliss (5).
Yin and Restorative classes are an excellent way to further reveal ourselves like
peeling off layers of an onion, and should be added into your regular yoga
practice once you are ready. For those who have been doing more active or
“yang” yoga for some time, these classes provide balance. So if you have only
been doing Power classes and think you’ve discovered all yoga has to offer, come
to one of our Yin or Restorative classes. There’s a whole new world awaiting you.
A great way to make the bridge from yang to yin is the Flow
Restore class. This class combines some movement to warm up the body and
stillness with longer held asanas, taking away a little of the edginess, leaving you
blissed out at the end of class.