How to decide the best style of yoga for you

Fitness expert Barb Gormley breaks down the different types of yoga to help you pick the right one

Getty Images

Each week personal trainer Barb Gormley answers your most pressing fitness questions.

I’d like to start taking yoga classes, but I’m confused as there are so many different types. Is there one that you, as a trainer, most recommend?

Congratulations on an excellent exercise choice! Yoga is wonderful for stretching tense muscles, calming a racing mind, and improving balance and strength. There are many options and each style is somewhat different. Here’s a brief overview of a some of the many yoga styles to help you find the option that’s best for you:

1. If you’re a details person, try Iyengar
My first classes were Iyengar, which is an ideal style for learning yoga fundamentals. This practice emphasizes alignment and body awareness. Postures are held for up to 30 seconds and props, such as bolsters, blankets and blocks, help you find the proper positioning, which is particularly helpful when you’re starting out.

2. If you like to practice at home, try Ashtanga
Ashtanga is a vigorous, athletic style of yoga. Classes focus on a series of postures with each new series becoming progressively more difficult. Once you memorize a sequence of postures, Ashtanga is ideal for practicing on your own at home.

3. If you like fitness classes, try Power Yoga
Modeled on the Ashtanga style, Power Yoga was created in the 90s for people looking for a strength and flexibility workout. Popular in fitness clubs, it appeals to people who are already quite fit. Unlike Ashtanga, Power Yoga does not follow a set series of postures, so classes with different teachers can vary widely.

4. If you love the beach, try Hot Yoga
Bikram and Moksha yoga classes (the two main styles of Hot Yoga) are taught in a room heated to 37°C, so loving to sweat is a definite prerequisite. The heat quickly warms your muscles and joints allowing for a deeper stretch, and it also calms and relaxes the mind and body. Take water, a big towel for your mat and a small towel to mop your face.

5. If you need to stretch, try Yin
Yin is one of the oldest forms of yoga and focuses on stretching the deep tissue around the hips and spine. Right now, I’m loving my weekly Yin class because it’s helping stretch some tight muscles that have been creating back pain. Most postures are performed sitting or lying (not standing or balancing) and are held for three to five minutes. Props are used to help you find a comfortable, relaxed position for each posture.

Barb Gormley is a certified personal trainer and a freelance health and fitness writer. You can contact her at

Get Chatelaine in your inbox!

Our very best stories, recipes, style and shopping tips, horoscopes and special offers. Delivered every weekday morning.