Have you ever looked at a yoga studio’s schedule and realized you don’t have a clue what half the words mean? Maybe you thought yoga was just yoga, but suddenly there are all these “power” and “flows” and Sanskrit words that you need a translator for.
It’s true that yoga, especially in North America, has evolved, branched off, and grown new limbs into countless different kinds of practices. Some are old school, some are a combination of a different things, and some are a whole new breed of yoga.
To help you navigate and find what’s right for you, here are some of the most popular types of yoga in Vancouver.
Hatha has been around for a long, long time. Hatha takes a slow approach, with a focus on alignment and breathing. This isn’t your high cardio style yoga. When taught according to the principles of this style, the class becomes more of a flow and meditation, with deep stretches and deep breathing. Prepare to set your mind free at a Hatha class.
It’s safe to say that this style of yoga did not hail from India but it certainly has taken off in Vancouver. Acro Yoga is a type of yoga that involves partners, with both people relying on each other to get into and hold some tricky balancing postures. It requires both trust and strength and is a great practice, especially if you’re thinking of trying out for Cirque du Soleil one day!
If you’ve seen people dressed all in white, including a head wrap, heading into the studio, you’ve probably found yourself at a Kundalini class. Kundalini means “a spiritual energy or life force located at the base of the spine”, and is often depicted as a coiled-up serpent. This ancient practice involves techniques that are meant to awaken the energy that moves up and down your spine and through your chakras. People claim it to be a very powerful practice.
True Ashtanga Yoga follows a specific sequence of postures that was brought over to North America during the 1960s heydays. You might hear the name Pattabhi Jois mentioned, as he is a teacher from India credited for helping the practice proliferate. Ashtanga sequences rely heavily on breath work and become progressively more advanced. A true devotee can do some very impressive things with their bodies.
Hot Yoga is a catch all phrase for the type of yoga that takes place in very warm room. Another type of hot yoga is Bikram, but Bikram follows very specific protocol and the practice is basically owned by one man who profits off studios and practices that operate in his na.e. Hot Yoga on the other hand is open to the interpretation of the studio and teachers and can be a combination of Hatha, Ashtanga or whatever else the teacher wants to incorporate. Prepare to get sweaty!
Certainly not under the umbrella of “traditional”, Power Yoga has taken off in Vancouver. This is for the practitioners who are there for the physicality of yoga and the practice generally focuses on getting the heart rate up and holding challenging postures meant to build and tone muscle. It definitely resembles yoga, but doesn’t focus on some of the more spiritual, meditative aspects that many purists insist are an integral part of yoga.
We could go on, there are SO MANY types of yoga being practiced in Vancouver these days. There is beer yoga, goat yoga (not a joke – you can do yoga with baby goats jumping on you), prenatal yoga, yoga with live music and chanting, yoga to heal, yoga to make you laugh and yoga to make you cry. There is something for everyone!