[This is part 2 of the Not-A-Yogi Guide series. Click here to read Part 1]
HANDS UP IF YOUR FIRST CLASS WAS A HATHA OR VINYASA!
As a beginner, unless we know someone who practices a particular style of yoga, we usually gravitate to a generically-named Vinyasa or Hatha class or a Yoga Basics class, where the style of teaching is dictated by the teacher’s training.
But did you know there’s a whole myriad of yoga styles out there?
In Singapore, here are some of the modern and traditional yoga styles that is commonly practised:
- Universal etc
I didn't know that when I first started. I was advised to attend Hatha Yoga as it's made for beginners.
I hated it!!
I hated the holding - it was painful, and you want me to hold it for how long?? And some were excruciating slow - I didn’t feel anything. Some of course I did feel a lot of things. :)
Obviously now they have rebranded classes with the word “gentle” so there's Gentle Flow; Mindful Hatha, or Hatha Flow etc, which seems more inclined to the Beginner's mindset.
I am more open to doing Hatha classes now especially if there is an intention like a hip-opening class or a back-bending themed, because I know I need these 2 in my practice to find balance, and I don’t do enough of it.
The jury is still out there for me if Hatha is for Beginners. (Psst ... I'd recommend Iyengar Yoga if you want to be specific about the style of Hatha Yoga that suits beginners. #justsaying #tradesecret )
The studios also recommend the beginners to try the Bikram-Styled Hot Yoga, where you (attempt) to do 26 set poses in a real hot room.
It was super hard/hot for me because I wasn't flexible, and it does help if you are flexible. The teachers were like army sergeants - they screamed at me when I wiped my sweat, or drank water in between poses. I didn't get any flexible in fact I got tighter ahah or so that was my experience.
Being the good girl that I am, I stayed and switched between Hatha and the Bikram-styled for a while, until I got the guts to attend a “Vinyasa” class.
They said Vinyasa class is NOT for beginners! It rocked! It was admittedly challenging, because we were moving one pose per breath, and my chaturanga was shit; but we didn’t linger too long in each pose; and so I wasn’t fixated on my inflexible downward facing dog - Woohoo!! And after a while once I’ve learnt to manage my deep UJJAYI breathing, it became my meditation but in motion.
That’s my story.
I wished I knew of the different styles of Yoga earlier - Iyengar is great for beginners, now they even have Asthanga Basics. But I went on my yoga journey alone, my friends don’t do yoga much, or those they do yoga, are in their own world that I felt I wasn’t a part of. I didn’t know any better.
I struggled. With my inflexibility. With Not having any yoga friends. With the pain in my hips. With insecurity.
However my experiences made me who I am today - the not-a-yogi teacher/student, who wants to bring ease and joyfulness on and off my mat. And I found Baptiste Yoga. It's a combination of both Hatha and Vinyasa, so you get the benefits of both worlds, and guess what - it usually is practiced in a hot room, but not so hot, 30-34 degrees; Singapore heat. It was perfect and a whole new world opened up for me!
You must be asking me now, which one should you start with then?
Firstly, there is no right or wrong in yoga unless it causes someone bodily harm.
If I want everyone to do yoga, they should do the kind of yoga that LIGHTS THEM UP. Be it, the Sweaty - Power Yoga or if they only 6 poses in Yin Yoga.
I feel that the Not-A-Yogi - once they get into the practice of their kind of yoga, they’ll be more aware and curious if there is more that Yoga can offer them. And in time, they’ll find sukha stira balanced in action in their practice.
Secondly I could list down the definitions of these styles, (I promise I will in a minute) - in fact there are more - however it will not give you much inkling into what the style is until YOU TRY IT!
In reality, and the busyness of our not-a-yogi lives, who has the time to try it all, when usually the choice of yoga classes works around our work schedule or social life or god forbid if you book late, and the class is full. PLUS you are NOT-A-YOGI and yoga is not the end of your world!
From the Not-A-Yogi in me to the Not-a-Yogi in you:
If you are NEW TO YOGA - I'd recommend Iyengar (more of that, in Part 3, WAIT FOR IT!!!) or you could start with Hatha or be brave and go for Vinyasa. Most importantly, PLEASE raise your hands if the teacher asked if anyone is new; so the teachers can keep a lookout. And stay with it. And if that particular style don't work for you - CHANGE IT!
“At the heart of it, mastery is practice. Mastery is staying on the path" - George Leonard
If you have been struggling on your mat and you're stuck - GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE. I challenge you to try anyone of the yoga styles mentioned above. Have fun with it! You can always go back to your default yoga style, ANYTIME. Drop the excuses and ego and be up to something bigger than yourself.
Baron says - "If a method clicks for you, stay with it and give it some time or 3 months and put your attention on that technique and give up all the other methods for a while.”
I didn’t fall in love immediately with Baptiste Yoga, but I showed up everyday of that 40 days to Personal Revolution program. And even though I’ve wandered off, got distracted, did everything else but Baptiste Yoga - but when I'm back and in the work - I'm reminded of why I fell in love with yoga in the first place..
You say what?
What if I suck at it? What if I never find a style that I like? What if I get too old? How do I know if it’s the right style for me? I don’t have the time?
I give you the same advice, I give myself. RELAX WITH WHAT IS! Why worry so much? Plus You don't have to listen to what I say. You can continue what you are doing. No one's stopping you. I'm just saying.......................... :):)
NOT-A-YOGI GUIDE 6-PART SERIES
I've challenged you and now I am challenging myself to experience these 3 different yoga styles - Iyengar, Ashtanga and Bikram.
Firstly because Baptiste Yoga is deeply rooted in these 3 traditional teachings and personally I am curious of how they relate back to the practices of Baptiste Yoga.
Secondly I’ve never done Iyengar; I'm not a big fan of the Bikram-inspired sequence, and I’ve tried Ashtanga once or twice and it was a long time ago. I am getting out of my comfort zone for sure, and pushing past my edge with the latter 2.
Wish me luck! x
NOW! I can't write about the different yoga styles without listing the definitions, because I know you want it! We love printable and glossaries, don't we? I've done it all for you. Note that they are not in my own words; they are borrowed from the web. (THANK YOU MR. GOOGLE!)
Click HERE for your FREE guide to the Different Yoga Styles.