Ashtanga yoga is an energetic, physically demanding yoga style where the emphasis is on continuous improvement, the connection of the breath with every movement and new challenges on a daily basis.
Ashtanga consists of six series with a predetermined sequence of postures (poses) created by K.P.Jois in the 20th century. The vast majority of Ashtanga yoga classes are based on the first of the sequences, so-called the Primary Series since the following ones are considered advanced and therefore are not suitable for group classes.
All Ashtanga practices consist of Sun Salutations followed by the standing, sitting and closing sequences. A very important aspect of this yoga style is breath control, namely due to the challenging succession of postures, where connecting the breathing rhythm with each motion in the body helps slow down the heart rate and keep the mind in the present moment.
Ashtanga is supposed to be practised six times a week which is sometimes a challenge by itself. Due to the numerous repetitions of the same motions throughout each class, it is highly important for beginners to be supervised by an experienced Ashtanga teacher, but also to be respectful of the sensations in their bodies and to learn to recognize when to take a break, even if it means for a couple of breaths.
Dharma yoga is a style specific for its explorational, light-hearted approach to progressive sequences with an abundance of deep stretches, twists and inversions.
Dharma yoga is named after its founder Dharma Mittra who combined known yoga poses with fluid transitions, rejected rigid alignment rules and added explorational approach to the practice. Dharma includes progressive sequences of poses where everyone is invited to try each posture, no matter how challenging it might seem. This ‘try even if you fail’ approach and light-hearted attitude towards obstacles make Dharma perfect for curious, high energy rulebreakers. During each class, you can expect a variety of intensive stretches, twists and inversions with an array of modifications suitable for beginners.
Hatha yoga is a slower-paced yoga practice focused on the quality and control of each movement.
Hatha yoga, in its broadest meaning, encompasses all yoga practices that rely on physical postures, so-called asanas. Therefore, yoga styles like Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Yin etc. are all forms of hatha yoga. With that said, when you go to a Hatha class, you can expect the familiar poses from other styles, but at a slower pace. Consequently, it requires less breath control than more energetic and dynamic classes.
Hatha is focused on the quality of movements instead of on their quantity which, with regular practise, can result in the increase of joint mobility and can help alleviate postural pain. Each pose is usually held for a couple of rounds of breath, allowing more stretching thus preventing muscular tightness. This style is perfect for anyone who prefers slower-paced activities, individuals experiencing limitations in their range of motions, as well as professional and recreational athletes used to high-intensity sports such as running, cycling and climbing.
Vinyasa yoga offers a variety of poses with seamless transitions between them, creating a unique sequence in every class which makes it one of the most playful and versatile styles of yoga.
Vinyasa yoga stems from Ashtanga series, but instead of repeating the same series of poses every time, there is freedom in sequencing so long as a seamless transition from one posture to another can be made. The uninterrupted changes to and from each pose are why Vinyasa is also referred to as a ‘flow’. Like in Ashtanga, each movement needs to be accompanied by an adequate breathing action: inhale or exhale. Following these two basic guidelines, Vinyasa yoga offers a variety of poses and countless sequences which makes it one of the most playful and versatile styles of yoga.
Some Vinyasa classes can be very energetic while others are slower paced. It is not uncommon for a class to have a theme such as core strengthening, hips and shoulders opening or even inversions. Due to the numerous possible modifications of each yoga pose, the same class can be both friendly for a beginner and challenging to a more experienced practitioner.
With vinyasa, no two classes are the same and not knowing what to expect is often a part of its appeal to adventurous yogis.
Yin yoga is a slow-paced style in which the main objective isn’t the movement of the body but a steady stretching of the connective tissues.