Which yoga style is best for your personnality?

Hatha Yoga or Goat Yoga: which yoga style is best for you?

Kundalini Yoga, Iyengar yoga, aerial yoga, hot yoga, acro-yoga, prenatal yoga, yoga with mammals (goats, cats), etc. Which style of yoga is right for you? Which style will make you levitate with a smile on your face and dressed in white… or at least the latest trendy legging from Lululemon. Based on our personality, some yoga styles can be more beneficial than others to make us feel calmer, less anxious, or to make us feel more fit and dynamic, etc. It is essential to choose the right style for your personality to maximize the feeling of wellbeing in your body and mind. I will focus here on the 5 most common yoga styles: Restorative, Yin, Hatha, Vinyasa, and Ashtanga. They are ranked according to their intensity level, from the gentlest to the most intense style of yoga.

The yoga style you are good at is not always the one you need!

When we have an active life, we tend to be drawn to an active yoga style…

If there is one thing that I have learned over the past few years as a yoga student and teacher, it is that the yoga style that we practice very well is not always the one we need! My personal story is a good example of it. I have a rather good physical condition. I have good cardio, acquired with running and hiking. And I am quite strong, even if it is not obvious when looking at me! I am more comfortable with yoga poses that require strength than flexibility. I am naturally quite good at the most physically intense styles of yoga, those that require the most strength and cardio. Does it mean that these yoga styles are always good for me? NOT REALLY.

yoga-for-strength-arm-balance-peacock-pose
Who’s the boss? [Peacock pose]

The most beneficial yoga style is the one that brings us back to balance

I regularly practice intense yoga styles to stay fit and because I enjoy it when I feel energetic. But the yoga styles that are the most beneficial for my personality are the gentle styles of yoga. They make me feel calmer and more relaxed. Why?

When we have an active life, in a permanent effort to raise the bar, we sometimes wrongly consider that our personality is like that: active, always seeking excellence, etc. However, we sometimes need precisely the opposite: something calm, slow, gentle, and kind!

The other way around is true as well. When we think that our energy level is empty, exhausted, it can sometimes be just a little bit of laziness and lack of motivation. In that case, it is good to move our body to evacuate the tensions and awake our energy.

Which style of yoga for your personality?

1/ Restorative yoga

Restorative yoga is the gentlest yoga style, with a relaxation goal. It includes breathing exercises and very comfortable poses held for 10 to 20 minutes, often with the support of props (bolster, cushions, blankets, etc.).

Who is it for?

  • People who need to « restore » their body and mind: chronic pains, physical or emotional traumas, exhaustion, insomnia, anxiety, depression, low moral
  • Those who need a soft and kind practice, even when everything is fine in life! We all deserve this from time to time, don’t we?
  • Those with intense stiffnesses and tensions in the body
  • To all exhausted parents: it is also an ideal practice to take a (well deserved) nap when things get too loud or agitated at home…

To avoid when…

  • You feel very energetic, dynamic and cannot stand stillness and silence (it can generate anxiety and boredom for some people)
  • You practice yoga with the goal of losing weight, activating your cardio, muscles and/ or you wish to gain flexibility quickly. 

2/ Yin Yoga

It is a slow and gentle yoga style. Poses are held for 2 to 10 minutes, sometimes with the use of props (blocks, cushions, etc.). Yin yoga differs from restorative yoga as its goal is to improve body mobility (back, hips, shoulders, legs, etc.) with slightly deeper stretches.

Who is it for?

  • People who are tired, physically and/ or mentally exhausted, who need a calm, gentle and slow practice. Or on the contrary, for people with high blood pressure who need to slow down. 
  • Anxious, stressed and perfectionist people who never let go
  • Those with stiffnesses and tensions in the body, sometimes related to emotional blockages.

To avoid when…

  • You feel very energetic and cannot stand stillness and silence
  • You practice yoga with the goal of losing weight, activating your cardio, muscles and/ or you wish to gain more flexibility quickly. 
Yin Yoga in practice!

You can also access this video on my YouTube channel by clicking here. If you want to know more, have a look at my article about 8 yoga poses to relax and unwind.

3/ Hatha yoga

It is the most widely spread style of yoga. Each pose is performed individually (no flow to connect the poses). The poses consist of muscle stretching and/ or strengthening and/ or balancing. There is a Sun Salutation in Hatha yoga, where each movement is connected to inhalation and exhalation. Breathing exercises (‘Pranayama’) are also part of Hatha Yoga.

Who is it for?

  • For everyone! Whatever your energy level or state of mind (except specific cases mentioned below), this yoga style regulates the energy level: it energizes and it calms down.
  • People who are stressed, anxious, who have a lack of self-confidence and have concentration issues
  • Those who feel a bit lethargic/ inactive, who would like to start moving again gently.
  • Those looking to get fit with a gentle approach of muscle stretching and strengthening.

To avoid when…

  • You like to practice Sun Salutation (there is little Sun Salutation in Hatha yoga)
  • In case of injury (back, shoulders, etc.), some poses need to be avoided. This applies for all yoga styles.

Note: Hatha yoga classes can be of different levels: beginner, intermediate, advanced. Beware of that, especially if you are a beginner!

Hatha Yoga in practice!

You can also access this video on my YouTube channel by clicking here.

4/ Vinyasa yoga

This yoga style is about flow and movement. Each pose is connected to another one with a ‘flowy’ transition. Classes usually consist of repeating the Sun Salutation and integrating different poses in it. This yoga style is more cardio-oriented and a little bit more into muscle strengthening than Hatha yoga.  

Who is it for?

  • People who are mentally tired or just feel a bit lazy and who are looking for a dynamic and energizing yoga practice
  • People willing to boost their level of self-confidence
  • Those who are energetic and fit and feel like moving and working on cardio, stretching and strengthening
  • Those who tend to manage and evacuate their emotions (stress, anger, frustrations) through movement and sweat

To avoid when…

  • Your physical and mental energy level is low or empty
  • You are a yoga beginner with self-confidence and anxiety issues (I would then recommend starting with Hatha yoga and slowly moving to Vinyasa)
Vinyasa yoga in practice!

You can also access this video on my YouTube channel by clicking here.

5/ Ashtanga yoga

This is the most physically intense and the stricter yoga style. Like in Vinyasa yoga, this practice is about movement, with the integration of yoga poses within the Sun Salutation. The order and the type of poses comply with a strict code. There are different levels of series and each series includes poses that require strength, flexibility, and balance. It is not allowed to move to the next series as long as all poses are not perfectly executed. The same poses and movements are therefore repeated for months and years in order to be perfectly performed.

Who is it for?

  • People who like to challenge themselves, who have lots of energy and wish to improve their cardio, strength and flexibility
  • Those who like to repeat the same yoga sequence: the same poses are done in the same order; it is the rule!
  • Those who manage/ evacuate their positive or negative emotions through movement and sweat.

To avoid when…

  • You are a yoga beginner with issues of self-confidence, stress, anxiety, depression
  • If you are perfectionist and competitive and this tends to make you anxious or nervous! This yoga style pushes you toward more perfection
  • You need a calm and gentle practice to help you let go of the tensions and frustrations

Which style of yoga to choose when you never practiced yoga before?

When yoga beginners ask me which style of yoga to pick to start their yoga journey, I usually recommend Hatha Yoga. This yoga practice includes active poses to gently increase the level of energy and passive poses to feel calmer and more relaxed. It is also beneficial to get more flexible, stronger, and more balanced. This is why I think it is a very good first entry into yoga before maybe shifting to some more dynamic styles (Vinyasa/ Ashtanga) or more passive ones (Yin/ Restorative).

As far as I am concerned, Hatha Yoga is my favorite style of yoga and it is the one I teach the most as it makes me feel good! But I also weekly practice Vinyasa and ‘Power yoga’ (a bit like Ashtanga, with a strengthening goal) and Yin yoga. I find my own balance like this and I build my (manly) muscles this way! 😉 How about you?

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