The very first Yoga class I attended held one promise – it will be HOT (105* to be exact). I thought my running legs would stand strong and pull off the Yogi-stretches they were challenged with. I thought my physical fitness would carry me through those 90 minutes with ease, and I’d be just fine with those temperatures.
Wrong. So very wrong.
The balancing poses were the only ones I remember holding onto without question; yes, my legs have muscles. But I couldn’t bend in any direction, much less twist my spine or cross my legs and intertwine my arms (Eagle? No, that was not happening). Once we finally laid down in Savasana I kept waiting for instruction to mangle myself into a pretzel or stand on my head.
Relax? Oh, we do that here too? YES, PLEASE.
I walked out, sweaty cold and shocked by the difficulty, and was totally hooked.
That class was almost exactly a year ago, and my how times have changed…
I know now there are many different types of yoga. My first UNheated class took place in June, with Kate (one of the two who convinced me to do Bikram – I’m looking at you too, Shauna!), at Stroga. It was a Vinyasa-style class; I didn’t sweat or feel cheated by my beginner status; I absolutely loved it.
What else is out there? Here are a few that I’ve tried, and can attest to!
Vinyasa: This is definitely the practice that I enjoy the most; once the flow becomes second-nature and your muscles warm up it all comes so easily and gracefully. There are heated and unheated versions, depending on the studio, but I’m partial to the minimal-sweat choice.
Anusara: Something I’ve started practicing more often, this is much less structured and “free style”. It hints at Vinyasa, and focuses on attaining certain poses throughout the class. Usually we incorporate inversions and stretches; in my experience we’ve honed in on hip and heart openers, shoulder stretches, handstands, and twists.
Hatha: I tried this for the first time last week; it’s a much slower practice that focuses on stretching and holding. We settled into each pose and counted at least 3-5 inhales and exhales before releasing. It’s definitely a challenge, but can also be a great way to take it a little bit easier and stretch things out!
Bikram: One word, HOT. Do not underestimate the 105* heat and humidity in any room; you will sweat your entire life out, and then sweat some more. It’s an amazing detox feeling, and definitely gets the muscles warmed up quickly. In a true Bikram class, you follow a series of 26 poses, holding each twice. While I would recommend wearing as little clothing as possible, it does help to go with Crops so that your feet have something to hold onto during balance poses such as Tree. Don’t make any social plans after this one, unless you have a shower nearby!
Hot: Well, this is a little self explanatory. It is usually a room heated to ~90* and can follow any style. Check the studio’s schedule to get specifics!
Alignment Flow: This may be found in certain studios, such as the one I frequent, and hones in on the alignment of every pose. You can do some serious joint/muscle damage if you don’t have things where they’re supposed to be! Hips, knees, ankles, shoulders and wrists take a lot of weight throughout any class, and it’s good to have some instruction on where to put, pull or push them!
A great resource for different poses, styles and instruction can be found in/on YogaJournal.com.
What other types/styles have you practiced? What’s your favorite??