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Will YOGA work for me?

What type of yoga is right for me? The practice of Yoga is a very individual process and it can be very confusing which ‘type’ of Yoga to choose.

I’m frequently asked what type of Yoga I teach. Any sort of movement Yoga is called Hatha Yoga, it's just that people have tended to categorise certain areas as, for example, Ashtanga or Kundalini. There are basically 2 ways to do Yoga; either as static postures where you hold poses for a few breaths, or as a series of postures linked together, moving on the "in breath" and the "out breath".

I tend to do a combination of both, I don't like to get bogged down in practicing Yoga in just one form, I believe it can be practiced to suit every individual, depending on their needs. I also think that practicing the same postures all the time can mean that boredom sets in.

So, if you’d like to know a little about the styles of Yoga that are being taught then here’s a list of some of them, it’s by no means a complete list but it’ll give you a place to start.

ASHTANGA - consists of 6 pose sequences; the primary series, second series, and so on, which are practiced sequentially as you get better at them. The postures are linked by the breath (this is called a "Vinyasa") flowing from one posture to another, moving rapidly.

KUNDALINI - the fluidity and constantly moving nature of this practice makes it invigorating. The constant movement is intended to release your life force/energy (your "Kundalini") from the base of the spine upwards through your body.

SIVANANDA - a gentle, slow practice featuring the same 12 postures ("Asanas") every time, beginning with sun salutations and ending with corpse pose ("Savasana"). It promotes a five point philosophy of proper breathing, relaxation, diet, exercise, and positive thinking.

VINYASA/POWER - adapted from the Ashtanga style, this is an active and athletic style, which doesn’t stick to the same sequence of postures like Ashtanga does. This means that the style of class depends on the individual teacher.

HATHA - encompasses many aspects of Yoga. Uses movement between postures with emphasis on the breath, but also uses static postures and relaxation.

I also get asked about the benefits of Yoga. Here’s a list of just 10 of them. There are many more benefits, but these are the ones that I think are the most beneficial:

1. Improves your flexibility

2. Builds your muscle and connective tissue strength

3. Improves your posture

4. Protects your spine

5. Good for your bones and joints

6. Improves your concentration and focus

7. Improves your balance

8. Increases your blood flow and regulates blood pressure

9. Helps you relax, and sleep better

10. Promotes body awareness

So, my advice would be to investigate the styles of Yoga available in your area and try them out to see what suits you. Bear in mind that your needs may change over your lifetime depending on your age, health etc. You also need to give your body time to get used to the practice and build a relationship with the instructor. Most of all, don’t get too worried about what style you are doing, and just enjoy it.

Classes run at Solihull Well Being Clinic on Thursdays from 7pm-8pm. If you'd like to get along, just get in touch.

Beren Hopkins BSc Hons

YOGA Teacher and Personal Trainer

Beren studied Psychology at University, before experiencing the benefits of YOGA and then developing a passion for training herself, then others in this life-giving approach. She took on some personal training roles, but has established herself as a YOGA teacher and does this full time.

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