Below is a list of the most common kinds of yoga you will encounter in Adelaide.
Ashtanga ( or Power Yoga) I think of this as bloke's yoga, because this is the one form of Yoga that attracts more men than women.
Some personal trainers double up as Power Yoga teachers so it can also feel like yoga inspired boot camp.
The original Ashtanga was developed by K. Pattabhi Jois, Ashtanga as a series of one postures to another to build strength, flexibility and stamina, with little rest between for them to think about their egos.
In my experience Power Yoga will work your heart more than turn off your mind (though in theory you should do both). It builds arm and core strength, but I found it didn't help flexibility or balance.
It's not for beginners though most classes will be happy to sign you up. I recommend you learn the postures correctly before doing them at high speed.
This was the 'in' yoga of the 90s (like Power is the 'in' yoga these days)
Bikram Choudhury's yoga was designed to make you sweat while doing yoga in a room heated to around 38 degrees. It does make you feel like you've had sauna and gym work out in one- you skin feels great too.
One of the advantages to Bikram is that your muscles heat and you will find yourself stretching further than you ever thought you could at room temperature.
This is tempting winter yoga, not so much in the summer.
Iyendar is noted for detail, aiming for the perfect posture. It's often said that relaxing still on your back is the hardest posture in yoga and this is the kind of philosophy behind Iyengar.
While standing in mountain pose or laying flat on your back is a rest pose in some yoga, it's an active pose Iyengar. You are asked to be aware of your muscles and nerves and feel present- this should lead to a medative state or at least extreme relaxation.
If you are relaxed you will balance better and stretch further. The physical comes after the spiritual and mental- it's about union of mind body and spirit.
Hatha is a general term that encompasses many types of yoga.
I've found Hatha classes vary depending on the teacher- some will have great routines flowing from one posture to the next, which make you feel great. Others will do poses to produce energy from within you. Other teachers will do routines that focus on stretching one area of the body per class, building and building up to a special 'climax' pose such as standing on your hands or doing the splits at the end (and because you've spent an hour or more on preparation poses, you surprise yourself by actually doing it).
A lot of a teacher's success will be to develop a following by finding their niche. So ask other yoggies about teachers.
Shanti is a fairly new variety of yoga devised by a female India yoga teacher/entrepreneur a few decades ago with the Western women in mind.
It combines a lot of elements of breathing, meditation, stretching and flow in a very accessible way.
I would recommend this yoga for people who are recovering from illness, people who are too overweight for most forms of exercise or older people fighting of arthritis.
It can be great for getting their circulation moving after a period of stagnation.
It's a very gentle, slow and non-judgemental atmosphere (okay, all yoga should be non-judgemental but I know it's not) but it does eventually build flexibility and strength and the mind is calmed almost immediately.
I started with this yoga and I found I would go into the class craving chocolate and come out of the class craving a vegetable curry.
If you are already fit or a naturally flexible person, Shanti might not hold your interest though the discipline of the basic poses and breathing create great mind relaxation.
I currently can't find a practitioner in Adelaide. Please let me know if you find one.
Here are some other helpful terms you'll here in class:
Simply put 'Yoga Postures'. Asanas are gentle stretching movements designed to help balance the mind and body.
Energy spots in your body that yoggies believe radiate life force or energy. There are seven chakras from the bottom of your spine to the top of your head. The instructor might ask you to think about one of these spots while doing a certain pose.
Drishti is the focus of the eyes in meditation. If you focus your eyes to one spot you will not only balance better, but you're more likely to turn off your inner voice and be in the moment while practising your yoga.
A repetitive verse used in meditation. Classes often open and close with these. Rather than have any meaning the words and tones should quiet your mind. Some teachers ask you to offer your own meaning like a prayer.
A gesture that transmits or redirects energy in yoga or meditation. I.e. like pressing your palms together or pressing a region of your forehead.
"I bow to the divine in you". Namaste is a traditional Indian greeting.
Great article Justine, you encompassed all the different facets of yoga really well! And I think you hit the nail on the head when you said Bikram yoga may be misheard as 'torture'....! Disclaimer: I loved Bikram, but it was bloody exhausting. And I found the instructor spoke to the class as though she were running an aerobics class or perhaps performing an...auction.