There are hundreds of variations of yoga offered around the world. Whether you are a beginner to yoga or a seasoned practitioner, you may wonder which style of yoga is the best fit for you. It is important to find a style that you resonate with and remember that asana practice (Hatha Yoga) is just one of six branches of yoga outlined in the sacred texts. There is also meditation (Raja Yoga), the yoga of service (Karma Yoga), yoga of devotion (Bhakti Yoga), yoga of the mind (Jnana Yoga) and ritual yoga (Tantra Yoga). Within Hatha, all forms of practice incorporate the opportunity to work with breath, poses and being present.
Here are some tips to help you figure out which type of yoga is best for you:
Ask yourself why you practice or why you want to practice. Are you looking for a sweaty workout or are you interested in yoga for restorative benefits? Are you searching for an exercise routine that will help bring relief from some type of physical pain or something that will offer a spiritual experience? Perhaps you are interested in yoga for a combination of reasons. Think about the reason or reasons and take a mental note.
Next, you should consider your preferences and your needs. Are you more attracted to one-on-one attention or does the idea of a group setting and community vibe call your attention? Do you like to be motivated or do you prefer a softer and more compassionate approach? Do you have any physical, financial or schedule limitations? These are all important things to consider when choosing which type of yoga to practice.
After considering the above, you may want to try a few different styles of yoga (if you have not already done that) to test what type feels right to you. Be mindful of how your body feels during and after any asana and any yoga class. The pace of the class and the level of practice should feel challenging, but not taxing to the point of pain or exhaustion. You should feel more open, relaxed and grounded in your body after a yoga class. Take note of emotional and mental movements that take place throughout the class. You should not feel more stressed. See what inspires you to return to the mat.
All asana classes require your presence on the mat while you build a stronger connection between mind and body. With the many schools, traditions and lineages within yoga, there will be commonality amongst them, but there will also be very apparent different styles between styles. There is no one style that is better than others. Just listen to your body and mind in finding the yoga class that is the best fit for you.