Whether you want to de-stress, detox or drop excess pounds, there’s a yoga workout to suit

Baffled by Bikram? Intrigued by lyengar? With so many different yoga styles around, it can be confusing getting to grips with the differences between each method. Never fear, whether you want to chill out or get a cardio fix, our guide will help you find your perfect match. Simply grab a yoga mat and you’re good to go!

Description: Hatha yoga creates synergy in the body through the effective use of breath

Hatha yoga creates synergy in the body through the effective use of breath


Best for... De-stressing

Calling all city workers! Had a bad day at work? Hatha yoga is slow and steady style guaranteed to chill out the body and mind. It focuses on static postures (also known as asanas) such as the triangle – a side bend in which you twist your body into a triangle position – and the more complex shoulder stand – a floor position which sees you lift your entire body from your shoulders down off the floor to help tension melt away and leave you feeling blissfully relaxed.

Many of the poses focus on opening the body’s energy channels, engaging inner organs and relieving pent-up stress and anxiety grind wears you down.

‘Hatha yoga creates synergy in the body through the effective use of breath,’ explains yoga expert Sibylla Chan (www.houseofyoga.co.uk). ‘It corrects poor posture, improves lung function and joint mobility, strengthens bones and muscles and increases energy. The improved blood flow provides a natural “irrigation” of the body, accelerating cleansing and healing.’


Best for...Detoxing

If you’re in need of a total-body cleanse and would like some amazing toning benefits to boot, put Bikram yoga at the top of your list. This modern form of yoga takes place in sweat-inducing temperatures of 40oC to help push your body to its limit with ease, eliminate toxins and improve circulation.

Named after founder Bikram Choudhury, this innovative approach to the ancient discipline focuses on 26 static postures held for at least 30 seconds at a time. Designed to work every single area of the body, the postures are performed in a specific sequence during a 90-minuteclass.

The intense heat also helps to ease your muscles and joints, preventing injury as you move through the poses and helping to heal any existing injuries.

‘Bikram is the most popular form of hot yoga, enhancing the stretching of muscles and aiding body detoxification,’ explains Sibylla. ‘When you sweat, impurities are flushed out of the body through the skin.’

If you haven’t been to a class before, expect to sweat bucket loads, and if you’re not used to working out in such intense heat you may find that you feel dizzy or nauseous both during and post-workout. Load up on water to minimise the symptoms, prevent dehydration and help the detox process.

Bikram devotees swear by the method for delivering clearer skin, a slimmer waistline and a heightened sense of wellbeing.


Best for...Weight loss

This workout offers a heart-pounding session through a series of standing and seated poses linked in a flowing sequence called vinyasa.

‘The term vinyasa refers to the alignment of movement and breath, a method which turns static asanas into a dynamic flow,’ says Sibylla. The main aim is to build flexibility and strength while increasing your heart rate through constant movements. These vigorous movements require strength and agility, but you can begin at your own pace and you’ll become more flexible as you progress.

‘The focus is on the breath and the journey between the asanas, rather than solely on achieving perfect body alignment, as in hatha yoga,’ adds Sibylla. When practised regularly, this style offers serious results, from blasting fat to building strength.

Description: The aim is to build flexibility and strength while increasing heart rate

‘Vinyasa refers to the alignment of movement and breath, a method which turns static asanas into a dynamic flow. The aim is to build flexibility and strength while increasing heart rate’


Best for...Pain relief

Established in the 1970s, Iyengar yoga focuses on precise postures and carefully controlled movements and breathing exercises to leave you with better balance and flexibility. ‘Iyengar yoga uses props such as blocks, belts, cushions, straps and blankets to help perform the asanas,’ says Sibylla. The good news is you don’t have to be naturally bendy as the props minimise the risk of injury. In fact, Iyengar works as a fabulous aid for conditions such as asthma, Rtheumatoid arthritis and Osteoartheritis. The props also make tricky postures, such as headstands, easier for newbies.

Yoga fusion

And there’s more! Try these new fusion classes for a fun workout session

Anti-gravity yoga

Unleash your adventurous side with anti-gravity yoga. This circus-style workout will see you performing exercises while suspended mid-air in a hammock.

Yin & Yang yoga

This class combines a dynamic vinyasa flow with relaxation and meditation to restore equilibrium to your body.

Candlelit yoga

One for the romantics, candlelit yoga is a hot yoga class performed in – you guessed it – Candlelight. Chill-out tunes play in the background as the instructor guides you through the mellow session.

Spin that wheel! To find more about yoga classes near you, visit The British Wheel of Yoga at www.bwy.org.uk

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