If I could get a penny for all the times' my students have asked me this question I’d be living in one of those gorgeous Balian treehouses eating Gado-Gado and doing yoga all the time!
But, jokes aside, for anyone who's about to take the plunge and start exploring the multifaceted yoga world, this will probably be the first question asked.
As soon enough, you will realize there are plenty of choices of schools and traditions. Since there is such a huge span of possibilities, many people tend to get confused.
Indeed, our minds are very keen to rationalize the "choice" issue. So we mentally dwell on the pros and cons, searching all over the internet and, eventually, end up incredibly tired, before we even start the first yoga class!
Doing some research is, of course, a great start, and so is asking a few friends and looking for inspiration. But my suggestion is to make this phase as short as possible. While focusing too much on what type of yoga to start practicing, you might miss the essential aspect of it all.
Yoga is not something one should over-think.
Because you never, ever know what something will be like until you experience it.
Yoga is a practice, that needs to be practiced.
Do you want to know which is the best yoga for you?
You’ll probably have to figure it out on the mat.
Talk no more. Don't think any longer. Practise is the key, so why not start now?
Stop asking questions and start answering them by using your own body, mind, and soul.
Feel it on your very skin, open yourself to the experience and be willing to accept the many blessings you will find along the way, by simply living it. And, of course, committing to it.
“The very heart of yoga practice is ‘abyhasa’ – steady effort in the direction you want to go.”
- Sally Kempton
Even if the whole picture feels unclear, the class looks tough or even if the meditation feels uncomfortable... keep it up and you’ll find yourself in a win-win situation. I promise.
After all, there isn’t much to lose. Apart from the things that you need to lose. The things you're supposed to let go of and you will, because they'll soon become way too heavy for you to carry any longer.
Furthermore, there will always be new aspects of yourself to discover and new angles for you to have a closer look at. Your inner reality will become clearer, through your body awareness.
Some people are lucky enough to find their preferred yoga style on the first shot. Others need the time and patience, possibilities and motivation to keep searching a bit longer.
If you are about to begin this journey, I'd say you could try any style for a while. Until you feel it's time to stop searching. Until you feel you’ve found the style ( I prefer to call it the yoga path,) that makes sense for you, in that moment of your life.
Below are other types of popular yoga.
- Hatha Yoga, from the Sanskrit word meaning ‘Forceful’, is one of the oldest forms of yoga and also widely practiced. Classes would be more focused on alignment, and the physical and mental benefits of each pose.
Pranayama exercises (controlled breathing techniques) and meditation are also at the heart of traditional Hatha yoga. Never the less, Hatha describes any kind of yoga where poses (asanas) are practiced, including Ashtanga, Vinyasa and Iyengar yoga to name a few popular styles.
- Vinyasa Yoga is based on a dynamic sequence of asanas commonly referred to as “flow”. Vinyasa classes offer a variety of postures and no two classes are ever alike, as for postures are linked together so that students move from one to another, seamlessly, using the breath.
- Yin Yoga, on the other hand, is the perfect complement to the previous yang styles of yoga. Based on Taoist teachings, is a very passive approach to yoga where poses are held for longer periods of time, sometimes 3 - 5 minutes and in some cases up to 20 minutes. This approach offers deeper access to the body targeting our connective tissues, fascia, and ligaments with the aim of lubricating and protecting our joints.
- Kundalini Yoga is a very peculiar style, that works both on a physical and spiritual level through specific techniques involving chanting, mantra, and -most of all- meditation. It is very transformative and purposefully designed to release the Kundalini energy and teach us how to connect to our higher self.
No matter which one you choose, you'll need to be aware that yoga is a very intricate learning process in which you don’t want to rush. You will need to be fully committed, very kind to yourself and last but not least, enormously patient. This is actually the hardest part.
The choice is yours of course but remember that the most important thing is to listen to your body and be aware of what you need in the present time.
In my humble opinion, no yoga style is better than any other one.
You will decide what the best option is for you, it's key to remember that everyone is different. What works for you may not work for your friend and Vice Versa. Keep searching and experimenting is all part of the journey.
I think one should stay open, keep learning and remain humble enough to embrace new challenges.
Try whatever resonates with you in order to enhance your overall yoga experience and from time to time, step out of your comfort zone.
After all, yoga is ONE...
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti...