While yoga, in general, is for everyone, the style of yoga that will work for you depends on a bunch of factors, including current fitness levels, goals, personality type and so on. This is not to say that yoga's benefits are dictated by the style you choose. Getting on the mat consistently will get you fitter, calmer, improve mobility and help you connect better with yourself. Having said that, the tendency to stick to something is usually determined by how much you enjoy it.
Type A, focused and athletic? Ashtanga is what you probably should be choosing. Like variety and want to get in a workout? Walk into a power or vinyasa class. And yes, if injury prevention or cross-training is your goal, a Sivananda, Bihar or Iyengar class may suit you better.
Here are the 3 of the best-know classical styles of yoga
Madonna claims to do it. So does Sting, and let's be honest--they still both look pretty good, so it must be working. Ashtanga's founder Pattabhi Jois clearly knew what he was talking about when he said this. “Do your practice and all is coming.”
Also read: What yoga means to me
Known to be one of the hardest styles of yogas, Ashtanga consists of a fixed sequence of poses (asanas), linked by flowing movements called vinyasas and your breath will need to synchronise with your movement. There are six such sequences, also called series, and since--as a practitioner, you will need to master one pose before moving on to the next--it will take you years to progress from one series to the next. Patience and discipline are essential; serious practitioners do it six days a week, without fail, unless they are menstruating, in which case you are not supposed to practice at all for the first three days of your cycle. Ashtanga may not be everyone's cup of tea but the results, over time, get very obvious: a leaner, densely muscled body, great mind-body connection, focus and discipline.
Watch Kino MacGregor, a well-known Ashtangi, perform a sun salutation.
What will strike you the most about this school, is its wholesomeness. While a fairly physical practice, asanas or postures are not the only things this system--founded by Vishnudevananda--focuses on. Among the first yoga styles to gain global popularity, it is based on 5 principles--proper exercise, proper breathing, proper relaxation, proper diet and proper thinking. A typical class starts with pranayama, which is followed by 12 rounds of surya namaskar and then 12 basic poses, followed by a deep relaxation.
Watch a Sivananda class to know more
Interestingly, both Ashtanga and Iyengar have the same roots--both Pattabhi Jois and Iyengar's founder BKS Iyengar were both students of Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, often thought of to be the father of modern yoga. Unlike Ashtanga, however, Iyengar yoga is all about slowness and stillness; you hold poses for a longer time and there is a lot of focus on alignment. The practice is ideal for older people and people recovering from injury; it is also great to build strength and mobility, making it an ideal practice for runners or weight-lifters who want to cross-train and prevent injury.
Also read: Yoga makes you aware of your fitness goals
Check out this beginner-level Iyengar class to understand how it works