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Your Guide to Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Mandala, Yin and Restorative Yoga

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering about the different types of yoga and which one might be the best fit for you and getting confused, never knowing where to start, you’ve come to the right place. 

I used to feel like that so I totally understand how confusing it can be at first. 

In this blog post, I will explain these different types of yoga styles such as Hatha, Vinyasa, Mandala, Ashtanga, Yin, and Restorative Yoga, exploring their unique characteristics and why you should give them a try. 

Hatha Yoga

Hatha Yoga is the foundation of all yoga styles, offering a gentle introduction to the practice. It focuses on aligning breath with movement as you move through a series of postures. Hatha is all about finding balance and harmony within yourself, allowing you to connect with your body and mind. It’s perfect for beginners or anyone seeking a slower-paced and more alignment-focused practice.

Vinyasa Yoga

Vinyasa or Vinyasa Flow is like a moving meditation. You gracefully flow from one pose to another, synchronized with your breath. This dynamic style brings a sense of creativity and fluidity to your practice, encouraging you to explore new sequences and variations. Vinyasa is perfect for those who enjoy a more energetic and playful approach to yoga. Experience the joy of this dance of breath and motion as you find yourself fully present on the mat. 

There is no standard sequence in Vinyasa yoga, so the style, pace and intensity will all vary depending on the teacher. Classes may be sequenced around a peak pose, they might focus on a particular theme such as the chakras or a part of the body, or the class may focus on strengthening, or emphasis on mobility or flexibility.

If we compare hatha yoga to vinyasa flow classes; vinyasa sessions often flow through series of poses at a quick clip, on the other hand hatha classes typically guide practitioners through postures at a slower pace with more guidance on how to do each pose correctly. 

Ashtanga Yoga

For those seeking a physically demanding practice, Ashtanga Yoga is the way to go. It follows a specific sequence of poses with a focus on controlled breathing and intense postures. Ashtanga challenges your strength, flexibility, and discipline, making it an ideal choice for those who have a self discipline and looking for a more structured practice. As you progress through the series, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and growth, unleashing your inner warrior spirit. 

There are six series in Ashtanga. The Primary Series, Second Series, Third Series, Fourth Series, and Fifth Series are all considered “mainstream” series. There is also a Sixth Series known as the Advanced A Series. This series is taught to advanced practitioners only.

Most people start with the Primary Series and work their way up. It generally takes 1.5 hours to practice. If you are new to Ashtanga yoga, be sure to seek guidance from an experienced teacher. Start slowly and build up your practice over time. 

Mandala Yoga

This is a relatively new form of yoga, having been developed in the early 2000s and inspired by the mandala shape. It involves moving in circular patterns around the mat, creating a seamless flow of movement and breath. 

This type of yoga uses the principles of mandala design to create a flowing, meditative practice, and just like the mandalas themselves, it is used to help focus the mind and develop a sense of peace and well-being. It’ll help to boost your energy levels with the flowing movements as it is very dynamic and using deep breathing to help you increase oxygenation and circulation.

Yin Yoga

In Yin Yoga, only the passive (yin) poses are used. The use of muscles is kept to a minimum, so the muscles are gently engaged to hold the posture without any extra effort. As the poses are to be held for a longer duration (between 3-10 mins), the use of props like cushions, bolsters, etc., is encouraged.

Yin is perfect for relieving tension, improving flexibility, and cultivating patience and mindfulness. 

The main difference between Yin and other yoga styles is the duration of holding a pose.

Restorative Yoga

This is the ultimate self-care practice, providing your body and mind with the nourishment they deserve. Through the use of props like bolsters and blankets, you’ll be supported in gentle and soothing postures, promoting relaxation and healing. Restorative Yoga is ideal for anyone seeking to reduce stress, improve sleep, and embrace a sense of inner peace and well-being. It is mostly practiced on the mat seated or lying down. The postures are restful and are held for a long time in order to release mental and emotional tensions.

Whether you’re drawn to the serenity of Hatha, the dance-like flow of Vinyasa, the strength of Ashtanga, the stillness of Yin, the nurturing of Restorative, or the artistry of Mandala Yoga, each path offers its unique gifts.  

I hope you found this post useful and gave you some ideas of what these yoga styles are. What you like will depend on your character but also on what your body needs. However, you might need something different at different times of the day, year, your life. 

My suggestion would be to try every single style. Decide yourself. Everybody’s experience will be different. 

This month on demand yoga membership, we will be looking into all these styles. You can explore all of them with me. 

See you on the mat!