Styles of Yoga I've Tried
I teach a mix of Vinyasa and power-esque yoga, along with senior yoga to my classes. But, did you know there are LOTS of different types of yoga? I haven't even tried all of them, but along with Vinyasa and power yoga, I've tried bikram, hatha, restorative, aerial, and acro yoga. They all have their perks, and your opinion may be different than mine, of course. But, I would like to share with you my thoughts and opinions regarding the different types. Feel free to leave a comment below describing the type(s) you've tried and what you like best.
I started taking Vinyasa classes in college since that was offered for free on campus. My first few classes compared to my most current classes have been way different- or, I should say my perception of them, as well as my thoughts, have drastically changed. To say I was confused during my first few classes would be an understatement. That, and annoyed ("Does she seriously expect us to do that? Are we still holding this pose?!"). I was very angry, but thanks to sticking with yoga, I've gotten much better.
What I initially didn't like so much about these types of classes, I actually learned to love! I love the flowing nature of the classes, the rhythmic movement, and kind of knowing what's next. I love the focus on the breath, because that always takes me away from my thoughts and back to where I'm supposed to be- in the present moment. I love holding the poses. Well, I guess I should say love/hate that part. I love it because I know it's good and afterwards I can feel the soreness you only get when you workout muscles you're not used to working out, but in the moment- I kind of hate it. I also am a fan of the overall sequence of the classes- starting off in more relaxed poses, working your way up to intense, quicker movements, and then slowly coming back down to slower, gentler poses.
Most of all, I love savasana. At first, I didn't, and I would look up and see if everyone was still laying down or if I happened to miss a cue and would be the only one still on my back (embarrassing!). But, when I finally got the hang of it and understood that part of the class involved laying down simply doing nothing for an extended amount of time, I learned to accept it. That acceptance very quickly turned into full blown love. In my typical schedule since college, I have always been very busy- overly busy sometimes. Taking some time during savasana to just enjoy the moments of stillness and occasionally follow a guided imagery session turned out to be just what my busy mind and body needed! Finally, a break! How lovely! To be honest, I've fallen asleep during many savanasa poses, especially when I was a beginner. I've heard that the people who fall asleep during savasana or meditation are the people who really need a break. So, nbd.
Power yoga is another one that at first, I wasn't a huge fan of and was battling angry thoughts inside my head. But, I learned quickly that if I was going to keep up with the flow, I needed to get out of my head and focus.
There was also a class I took at Studio B, where I completed my teacher training, called B3. It is a class that is choreographed to music- upbeat music, and is super fast paced. It's so fast-paced that I barely have a chance to get stuck in my head. For someone with intense anxiety like me, this is a heaven sent gift! For this reason alone, B3 would have to be my favorite type of class ever, and I would hope to emulate it one day in one of my classes. Not only do I have to focus on the moves and get to hear the fun music, but it's also such a workout, which if you've met me, you know I pretty much workout all the time and love it!
I think for people who constantly have thoughts racing through their heads and like to move and feel good about movement, power yoga would be their top choice. Now, the classes that I've taken of power yoga just so happened to be heated as well, and I am not a fan of that aspect of it. Not all power yoga classes have to be heated though. I could do without that because I sweat enough as it is; I don't need the 90 degree temperature to help. If you've never tried power yoga before (my classes have a hint of power in them), I'd definitely recommend a class at Studio B in Annville, Hershey, Harrisburg, or Mechanicsburg. Here is the link if you'd like more info: https://www.studiobpoweryoga.com/
Now, to go from power yoga to bikram was a huge jump for me. Maybe bikram is like the other types of yoga where I wasn't crazy about it at first, but then learned to love it. I only tried bikram once before, and it is not my favorite. The instructor had some mercy on us- a class of beginner bikram yogis- and didn't have the heat so high. She didn't have the heat at 108 degrees, but instead about 95 degrees. Remember that part where I sweat enough as it is and don't need a hot room? Yeah, this added to the fact that I wasn't crazy about the class.
We also held each pose for longer than usual, compared to vinyasa or power yoga classes. There were different names and different ways of doing poses that I was used to. It was interesting because it helped take me back to a beginner's mindset again. I mentioned that I really enjoy the fast paced types of flowy yoga classes, and bikram is not that. I suppose if I wanted a break from my typical types of classes, I might give bikram another try. After all, I did go to a stunningly beautiful studio, Half Moon Yoga Studio, in Hershey. If you are interested in giving it a try, see the website for more information: https://www.halfmoonhershey.com/. Remember, my opinion may not be the same as yours, so give it a try.
Hatha yoga is right along with bikram yoga in my mind. With hatha yoga, we seemed to flow a little more than bikram, but still not as much as vinyasa or power that I'm used to and partial to. Hatha is very slow paced and focuses on calming your mind, body, and spirit to prepare for meditation. I know this is a lame excuse, but I am not very good at meditation. There, I said it. I have a hard time calming and clearing my mind. I need something to do to focus on- like movement. But to be in stillness and try to focus for meditation is challenging and unappealing to me.
I think if you are someone who doesn't enjoy the flowy nature of vinyasa and would maybe like to tune into your inner self more, hatha would be a good place to start. If you are looking for a place to start, you can try the Palmyra Kung Fu Center. They have a great, small staff that is very caring and pleasant. I think you will enjoy your classes there if you are interested in this style of yoga.
Click here to give hatha yoga a try: https://www.palmyrakungfu.com/
Restorative yoga is one of the best kinds of yoga. You get a ton of comfy bolsters, blankets, sandbags, and other equipment to get you into the most comfortable poses and just rest. After about 10 minutes or so, the teacher instructs you to change positions and form a new shape. Some of these shapes are how I sleep! If you are really lucky, you can find a restorative yoga class that has live music to accompany the class. This really helps set the vibe and add to the cozy mood.
I've taken classes at West End Yoga in Lancaster and Yoga on Chocolate (Studio B) in Hershey. Both were great and had very calming instructors that were just perfect for the class. The class I went to at West End Yoga years ago had a live cellist, and the cello is one of my favorite instruments to hear. The classes I've been to an Yoga on Chocolate feature different musicians every second Sunday of the month, and they all have different music styles as well. If you'd be interested in checking either of those out, you can find more information through their websites:
Have you ever wanted to fly? When I was little, I used to say that I wanted to grow up and be a bird. As ludicrous as that sounds now, I kind of still agree with my 3 year old self. Well, if you've also wanted a chance to somehow fly, then you should definitely give aerial yoga a try. Aerial yoga is where you climb into the fabric that hangs from the ceiling and do yoga like you've never before done. You have such a better range of motion and poses that are usually not challenging get an extra challenge. The one tip I will say for aerial yoga is to be prepared for your hip bone to be sore afterwards/during your practice. I've never gotten injured doing aerial yoga, but you do keep the fabric on your hip bone for awhile, and it will get sore.
Aerial yoga is so fascinating to me because I feel like I know yoga pretty well, and then I try that and it's like a whole new ball game. Aerial is familiar, yet also so unknown. You have so much more freedom with your poses. Yet, there is also a whole new set of fears associated with the poses that you should probably just try to let go of so you can enjoy your class. Of course, I love savasana and doing this during aerial yoga is maybe even better than regular savasana. First, you wrap up in a cocoon in your fabric, and then you just gently sway back and forth. This is a very comforting feeling. I tried aerial yoga only twice so far because the studio is far from my house, but both times were great. I had the same instructor, Melissa Mann, and she was fabulous! So bubbly, fun, and encouraging! I would highly recommend trying out aerial yoga. I believe it's for all abilities and body types, and it's such a fun experience.
For more info, check out: https://www.centralpennhealth.com/
Acro yoga is another fun one! Acro (short for acrobatic) yoga makes you feel like you can join the circus- in a good way! Acro yoga makes you have courage and faith. It opens you up to new possibilities and definitely makes you get out of your comfort zone (which is something that more of us need to do).
I went to an acro yoga workshop at Yoga on Chocolate, and I didn't really know what I was getting myself into. I thought there would be a lot of poses that I wouldn't be able to do and I'd just watch. It turns out the instructor was very encouraging and got me to try new things. My group mates were also very supportive (physically and emotionally), and with everyone's help and a little bit of self-belief, I was able to do such cool "tricks" that I normally wouldn't have even tried. Acro yoga was a workout, fun, and was good for some cool pictures. However, if you like the more spiritual aspect of yoga, you may have to incorporate that on your own. The workshop that I attended simply focused on the poses, but that was enough for me.
I would love to try another acro yoga class or workshop because it is so exhilarating. I do know of one in Lancaster, but I have not been able to attend. You can feel free to find more information about it and maybe give it a try by visiting: http://circusschooloflancaster.com/.
Well, I hope you learned something new about the different styles of yoga and/or me. I'm interested to hear what types of yoga you've practiced and what you like about particular ones. Leave a comment below to start a conversation.