Ashtanga is an intense, fast-faced, flowing style of yoga that was founded by Pattabhi Jois in the 1960s. Ashtanga is a set series of poses that are performed, always in the same order. This practice can be very physically demanding because of the constant movement from one pose to the next.
Hatha is a very generous term that encompasses any of the physical styles of yoga. Hatha is a slow-paced and gentle way of practicing yoga. Hatha classes are often a good place for beginners to practice yoga bacause it provides the introduction to basic yoga poses.
This style practice is based on the teachings of yoga master B.K.S Iyengar. It brings the body into the best possible alignment, often using props such as blocks, bolsters and straps to assist in mastering the proper form. This is a great class for beginners who want a slow strong practice.
This Practice was initially influenced by the intensity of Ashtanga but allowed for the variation of sequencing of poses. Contemporary power yoga classes are essentially a vigorous vinyasa flow class.
Restorative Yoga uses props to help support the body as it relaxes into a pose over the course of several minutes. The idea of restorative is to stay in each pose long enough to encourage passive stretching. Some examples of the types of poses that can be adapted with the addition of props like blankets and bolsters are seated forward bends, gentle supine backbends and twists.
Like hatha, vinyasa is a general term used to describe many types of classes. Vinyasa tends to be a more vigorous style of yoga incorporating a series of poses called sun salutations, where the movements are matched to each breath.
Vinyasa classes typically starts with a warm up of sun salutations poses to get the body ready for more intense stretching that is done at the end of the class. Vinyasa is also called flow, in reference to the continuous movement from one pose to the next.
Vinyasa classes are one of the most popular classes, but then tend to be faster-moving, which can be confusing for beginners who are unfamiliar with basic poses. If you want to try a vinyasa class, make sure you select a beginning level class.
Yin Yoga is a practice that was developed by Paul Grilley to stretch the body connective tissue, particularly around the joints. To do this, a series of specific poses are held over the course of several minutes. Grilley intended this practice to prepare the body to be able to sit for prolong meditation sessions and to act as the body's centerpoint to movement-oriented vigorous yang styles of yoga. In this style we will use yoga blankets, blocks, bolsters and cushions.