• By Ellen O'Riordan on Mar 30, 2016

The Different Styles of Yoga and Where to Find Them

Yoga is a fantastic way to gain strength, whilst simultaneously elongating the joints and muscles and cleansing the mind.  However, yoga is the root of so many offsprings and it can take time to find a style that suits you.  What one person swears is the “most eye-opening and life changing experience” can seem alien to another.  I’ll confess that I was not on board with yoga at first.  I’d heard the stories from incredulous people embarking on their “Eat, Pray, Love” adventure all from a sweaty little studio and I wanted to replicate their new zest for life.  But whilst taking some mediocre classes in my local gym, stuck in a static downward dog position in a cold room, arms shaking, blood rushing to my head, I found myself asking “is this where I’m supposed to receive my epiphany?”

But when it comes to yoga, bog standard is simply not enough.  There is actually no law enforcing qualifications to teach yoga, so anyone can roll out a few mats in their backyard and call themselves an instructor.  Expert teachers spend months upon months learning the sacred art form, often travelling to India or other places to qualify.  They are dedicated to the craft and their wealth of experience radiates through the class.  Yoga is a practice that when performed properly can flood you with benefits, but it is also easy to injure yourself if your technique is not quite right and there is inadequate supervision.  Aside from the standard of the instructor, there are the many different styles of yoga that you can practice.  From meditation and chanting style (definitely not for the skeptics), to flowing workout sequences, to the blazing heat of a Bikram studio, one size does not fit all, and you may have to experiment to find your niche through trial and error. Regardless of style, you are sure to frequently visit the trusted “downward dog” and the child’s pose will become your sanctity and best friend.


Technically any yoga class is a branch from the tree of Hatha.  It is the mother of all styles and is a basic, classical approach encompassing virtually every modern style.  When a studio labels a class as “Hatha”, however, it tends to be redefined as a slow paced class focusing on alignment and breathing.  

Good for:  Hatha is perfect for anyone new to yoga, so they can grasp the basics, before moving on to a more unique style.

Sweat level:  2

Where to practice:  Yogasphere: Top of the Shard, London Bridge. The Light Centre: Belgravia.  


Ashtanga is structured by 6 established and strenuous pose sequences.  These positions flow rapidly for one to the other following the rhythm of the breath.

Good for:  The vigorous, athletic style of practice attract those who crave a sense of order and who enjoy independence.

Sweat level:  3

Where to practice:  Triyoga: Camden, Soho or Chelsea.  Light Centre: Moorgate.

Vinyasa Flow

A 1950s westernised revamp of the traditional Ashtanga practice.  It’s an active and athletic style of yoga.  Often referred to as the “dancer’s yoga”, it has a flowing routine sequence that mirrors the breath pattern.  

Good for:  Anyone who wants a strengthening and stretching workout through almost constant movement.  A great alternative for anyone who gets bored in more static styles.

Sweat level:  3

Where to practice:  Triyoga: Camden, Soho or Chelsea.  Yogahaven: Richmond.


The yoga of awareness.  This practice involves a constant pace moving through invigorating poses.  The flow of the practice intends to rid your body of its kundalini (serpent) energy which lies coiled at the base of the spine.  The practice will incorporate elements of meditation, pranayama (breath control), chanting mantra and yoga asana (seated position).

Good for:  Anyone with a cluttered mind and the need to destress.

Sweat level:  2

Where to practice:  Triyoga: Camden, Soho or Chelsea.  Sadhaka Yoga: Camden.


Declutter your mind and discard the day in this relaxation zone.  Sometime we don’t realise how much extra baggage we carry around in our troubled little minds until we can release it.  This style is not about working up a sweat, and you can spend up to 20 minutes in each pose.  Props such as blankets, bolsters and lavender eye masks are strategically incorporated for optimum mental and physical repose.  It’s somewhat of a group naptime for grownups.  However, it’s not actually intended that you fall asleep and snoring is somewhat frowned upon.

Good for:  The ultra stressed.  Arrive open minded, forget the ticking of the clock and allow yourself to indulge in a mental de-cleanse.

Sweat level: 0-1

Where to practice:  The Well Garden: Hackney.  Yotopia: Covent Garden.  Yogahaven: Clapham.


Your day has either been overly calm and it’s time to turn up the heat, or it’s been filled with stresses and you’re raring to sweat it out.  Either way, the decision to attend a Bikram class should never be made lightly!  Performed in rooms of 40 degrees, Bikram is a copyrighted style and is different to hot yoga.  Whilst hot yoga can be any style of yoga, but practiced in a heated room, Bikram follows a set sequence of 26 poses.  The 40 degree temperature is supposed to mimic the Indian climate where the style was founded.  It really is like doing yoga in a sauna, and the intense heat can make it difficult to breathe or continue moving.  But as the saying goes “if you can’t stand the heat, stay sweating in the kitchen”, you are strongly advised to remain in the furnace for the entire class, even if you cannot carry on with the sequence.  Bikram is an extremely challenging concept for the body and the mind to get to grips with, after one session you will certainly not be rushing back, but after three sessions, most people begin to feel the positive effects and their bodies start to crave the torture.  The 26 poses are also another challenge to contend with as they contort the body into rather strange positions.  Many find these poses restrictive and prefer to opt for hot yoga following one of the above styles.

Good for:  Relatively fit and healthy beings who enjoy a challenge and want to really stretch their limbs. Not advisable for older people or anyone with high or low blood pressure.

Sweat level:  Off the scale; you may as well have been for a swim.  Bring a 2 litre bottle of water to make up for the loss!

Where to practice:  Bikram Yoga London: Canary Wharf.  Hot Yoga Society: London Bridge.  Bikram Yoga Essex: Loughton.

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