Which Yoga is Right

Don’t know your hatha from your vinyasa? All good, we’ve got you covered.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
Don’t know your hatha from your vinyasa? All good, we’ve got you covered.
Corbis/Click Photos
Corbis/Click Photos

Today, yoga isn’t just about perfecting your best downward dog. Now you have to decide if you want to do it upside down, in desert heat, or backwards on a paddle board. And attempting the wrong yoga type could mean the difference between finding your inner Zen and wanting to punch your instructor. But don’t let the big decisions stop you from wanting to get your Omm on. There’s a little something for everyone (from full-on noobs to total pros). “There’s a yoga style to suit every level, age and background,” explains yoga expert teacher Charlotte Dodson. “There are certain types to complement specific cycles in your life at the moment and it’s important to remember that whichever style you decide to go for, yoga is a gateway to the same place: stillness and peacefulness.” Namaste to that!

So, where does your gateway lie? The answer depends on many factors, like where you live, your budget, how much free time you have, what you want out of life, and what other exercise you do. If, for example, you love doing Pilates, you might prefer yoga that concentrates more on soothing the mind rather than the body, because Pilates already involves stretching. If you’re into jogging, you may enjoy a variety that allows you to exercise fast movements. Whatever the situation, we’ve found the perfect yoga style for you.

You want gentle, easy stretches: HATHA

Great for beginners, this is a simple practice combining posture and breath that won’t require that you to contort your limbs from the get-go. Experts say hatha encourages you to stretch your body, soothe your mind and lift your spirits.

Try it if you’d prefer to gently ease your body into yoga.

Avoid it if you’re an impatient go-getter who wants to skip the introductions and cut to the chase.

Been there, done that? Try:

Jivamukti:Described as a more vigorous form of hatha, it backs a holistic approach to life, including healthy eating.

Dru yoga: A simple yoga that enthusiasts, like legendary man of peace Mahatma Gandhi, praised because its tai chi-like poses help boost feelings of total body wellness and joy.

You want greater flexibility: IYENGAR

Devotees of this slower, more methodical yoga say it’s an awesome way to loosen up and relieve stress. You’ll work with props (think blocks and belts) designed to help safely improve your flexibility as you stretch further into the pose without straining. If you have an injury and are looking for physical therapy to help you recover, this is perfect.

Try it if you’d like to be able to touch your toes (again).

Avoid it if quick fixes are your thing. This is a disciplined form of yoga that requires patience, focus and dedication.

Been there, done that? Try:

Vinyasa: Also known as flow yoga, this exercise focuses on using the breath to move from one pose to the next, either on an inhale or an exhale.

You want to make it a lifestyle: KUNDALINI

This is a pretty slow-moving yet intense form of yoga that encourages a more spiritual philosophy and aims to align and cleanse the body’s six chakras. It’s an introspective, meditative practice that may push your emotional buttons as your involvement deepens. It also involves chanting as a form of positive reinforcement.

Try it if you want to hit the slow-down button on life and connect with yourself on a spiritual level.

Avoid it if you think the idea of singing chants with total strangers is a little too weird for you.

Been there, done that? Try:

Sivananda: An entry-level or experienced level yoga that incorporates dance, breath, as well as positive thinking, relaxation, diet and meditation. The big difference? No chanting required. Promise.

You want to be challenged: ASHTANGA

You’ve been warned – this style isn’t for the wimpy. Often known as “eightlimbed yoga”, ashtanga combines eight types of yoga and requires physical strength and mental agility as it tests your ability to memorise a sequence of different poses. If you’re a fan of gymnastics and solid workouts, this will get your heart rate up, tone your body and burn those calories.

Try it if you crave going from one challenge to the next.

Avoid it if you hate being told what to do. This structured form of yoga won’t allow you to move forward until you nail the basics. So, listen up.

Been there, done that? Try:

Power yoga: Unlike ashtanga, this ’90s version follows a set series of tough poses. Prepare to work up a sweat.

You want a solid workout: BIKRAM

A 90-minute bikram class involves coming to grips with 26 poses and two breathing exercises. Sound simple? Oh, we forgot to mention it’s done in a steamy temperature of around 37˚C. You do a series of warm-up moves first, before trying out deeper poses during a full-body workout. Bikram is great for relieving back problems, loosening up joints, and improving blood flow and your overall posture.

Try it if you kind of dig the feeling of dripping in sweat while getting rid of toxins.

Avoid it if you’d rather not mess up your makeup or think you might faint.

Been there, done that? Try:

Moksha yoga: Also involves doing sweaty poses but is generally more relaxed than bikram.


Yoga is all about relaxing, but that doesn’t mean you can do a child’s pose commando-style. Here are some points to be wary of for your next class:

Be mindful of personal space. Stay within yours. Avoid getting up in the grill of your fellow yogis, stepping on their mats or breathing too heavily around them. Don’t be a moaner. You don’t want your “Omms” and “Aahs” to sound like you’re filming a sex tape. Be a clean machine. Strong perfume is frowned upon, as those deep intakes of breath aren’t meant to include Marc Jacobs’ Daisy. And if you sweat a lot, always wipe down your mat and the space around you.

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