Tuesday Trials: Types of Yoga

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…

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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??



Filed under new things!, strength train too!, things I Love, Yoga

23 responses to “Tuesday Trials: Types of Yoga

  1. Bikram is so intense but I loved it last summer! Like you said, a total detox experience. I pushed myself a little too hard too quickly, though, because with the heat, it’s easy to stretch those muscles without feeling any warning signs that you might be pushing too far. I love a good Vinyasa flow class – I like to keep it moving and then really enjoy the final savasana. 🙂

  2. Liz

    I really want to do bikram. The only types I have done are vinyasa a bunch (love) and kundalini (do not love).

  3. i’ve always wanted to try bikram, but can’t find a place that matches my time and schedule needs. ONE DAY 🙂

  4. I’ve only ever had the chance to try out yoga at my gym, which I like. But I really want to try the stuff at a studio. It sounds so fun and like such a great workout!

  5. I have been on a pilates kick, no pun intended. I’m a running yoga junkie but def need to expand my horizons.

    • Heather C

      I’m with ya! I’ve only done Pilates once, but one of my coworkers teaches and I’ve been meaning to go to her class. Now replacing “should” with “will” – I WILL give it a shot 😉

  6. I would love to go back to hot yoga. There’s a local-ish studio that does a $5 Sunday night class… I really have no reason not to be attending!

  7. Hot Power, Hatha, Flow, Yin and Kundalini. I am going to Yin tonight, actually. I love all the styles I have tried, but I went through a lot of hate with Yin before I got to Love.

  8. Heather C

    Alright, I need to look into this Kundalini option, apparently. 🙂 Yin is on my list to-try, also. I think I’ll love it as a nice balance to the more challenging stuff!

  9. Elizabeth

    Hot is by far my favorite – still warm, but just that much cooler than Bikram that it makes a difference. I honestly don’t really love the ones where I don’t sweat at least a little. I feel like I’m not doing enough.

  10. New to your blog and I love it! Thanks for all of the great information…I have only taken a few classes at my gym and I am not sure what types they were but now you got me excited to try out different things!

  11. I LOVE doing vinayasa in the hot room! I did some last night – my hamstrings, back, shoulders and arms are feeling it today!

    I have been doing a lot of Moksha yoga lately. I think the best way to describe it would be a mix of Bikram-Vinayasa and Anusara. It’s a lot more free-flowing than Bikram but you do a 45-minute standing and 45-minute sitting series like in Bikram. I really love it!

    Ahh yoga 🙂

  12. I never knew so much yoga existed! 🙂 neato!

  13. runyogarepeat

    I’ve done hot yoga, vinyasa, and an ashtanga class. My favorite is vinyasa because the classes are always varied and different. So far, I love all types of yoga!

  14. I love vinyasa. It was my first and probably always my favorite. I always feel like I’ve gotten a great workout at the end, and it’s so nice to sweat so much without cardio.
    However, with increasing my running, I realized I liked some just plain stretchy yoga classes that don’t always break a sweat but spend a lot of time on hips, hamstrings, or other poses that feel really good without doing a million vinyasas.

  15. J

    I go to the same yoga class every week and it is a vinyasa flow class. I know the gym has other ones but I think they are similar. I think I would like to try Hot yoga but I don’t know anywhere around here that offers it!

  16. Alexis

    I am trying some at home. I bought a video the other weekend, and am working on the section for aligning correctly. I REALLY want to head to a studio, but I really have no money. Stretching has always been my favorite part of any activity. I think I would love a yoga that does stretching with the “exercise” built in. Hm…that probably is most of them.

  17. Danielle G.

    Heather a friend suggested your blog and Im so glad she did.. I run and I do yoga…I’m trying Bikram on my winter break. Glad you posted this!

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