There are many different styles of yoga being practiced around the world and new styles and adaptations are continually being created. Often styles can conflict each other and focus on different attributes, this can become very confusing to yoga practitioners especially if you are new to yoga.
So what style of yoga should you practice?
When answering this question it is important to remember that all yoga, comes from the same place and that is the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The style of yoga is not so important. It is more about finding a teacher who can guide you towards a focused mind and cultivate the development of yoga within you.
Modern practices, such as power yoga focus on asana, the physical aspect of the practice. There are some beliefs that this approach neglects other aspects such as pranayama and meditation. However, in this fast paced world the focused flow achieved in the power yoga class is very calming for many people, and this is reflected in its popularity. Reason being, it would not be beneficial to place an agitated mind straight into a slow and meditative yoga practice. The practice must meet you where you are at. Then over time, as the mind slows and interest grows you will be guided towards self reflection, meditation and breathing techniques.
If you have never done yoga before I would recommend attending an Iyengar based class. Iyengar is alignment focused. This will help you develop your understanding of the foundations of the asana. This style is also great for people you have any serious injuries as teachers use props and provide many modifications.
Once you feel comfortable with the key asana alignments it would be wise to introduce breath with movement and begin to develop your moving meditation. Therefore, at this stage I would recommend attending a Classical Yoga or Hatha Vinyasa class.
If you enjoy the dynamic flow of breath and movement in the Classical or Hatha Vinyasa style, you could then try Power Yoga or an Ashtanga class. These two styles are much more physical and do not allow much time for seated meditation and therefore I personally choose to do my meditation at home. If breath and movement did not resonate with you, head back to your Iyengar class or perhaps try a Yin Yoga class which involves staying in postures for up to five minutes.
Each style of yoga provides benefits to you and depending on which life cycle you are in, you will automatically be drawn to a particular style. The caution is that most often we are drawn to the style which mirrors our own tendencies. For example fire attracts fire. This of course does not cultivate balance and therefore we must continually reflect upon our attachments and aversions and question whether they are beneficial or perhaps causing us harm.
I hope this article has been useful and if you have any questions please email.
May the divinity in me shine to the divinity in you!