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Different Styles of Yoga: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

jivamukti yoga class

If you’re new to yoga, or have always stuck to one or two of your favourite classes, all of the different styles of yoga can be a little overwhelming. Yoga’s numerous types—which are even more varied and hybrid the more popularised the practice becomes in the West—means you’re often not sure what you’re going to get with each class!

You’ll reap the benefits of yoga, whichever style you choose: You are sure to develop strength, flexibility, mental and emotional clarity and a strong sense of connection through your practice.

The best way to get the most yoga motivation from your practice is to try lots of different styles so you can find one that best works for you. Going on a yoga retreat is a fantastic way to broaden your yoga inspiration and experience and try some new instructors and styles in a space where you can enjoy extended practice within a smaller group. For more reasons why you need to choose a yoga retreat for your next holiday, click here.


Ultimate Guide to Yoga Styles on Reclaim Your Self Yoga Retreats

Reclaim Your Self retreats offer yoga in a variety of styles and formats. The two main styles of yoga we offer on our retreats are Jivamukti and Vinyasa, but our instructors are playful and unique in their classes and draw from many different movement practices.

To give you an idea of what to expect from your retreat yoga, we’ve compiled a guide to different styles of yoga and our world class instructors who teach them

Jivamukti Yoga

jivamukti yoga class
Emma Henry teaching hands on style Jivamukti yoga.

One of our very favourite yoga styles to complement our adventure retreats at Reclaim Your Self.

Jivamukti Yoga (pronounced Jee-va-mook-tee) is about far more than performing asana (‘asana’ means the physical poses of yoga) for physical fitness. The aim of Jivamukti yoga is to carve a ‘path to enlightenment through compassion for all beings’ by integrating the physical, philosophical and spiritual aspects of yoga and meditation. This style of yoga encourages non-harm, and therefore many Jivamukti teachers and practitioners follow a vegan diet.

Jivamukti teaches students to unite asana (with is often considered in the West to be the most important or only element of yoga) with spiritual learning, chanting and meditation within every class and to other take the principals off the mat into their everyday lives.

This holistic approach and honouring of spirituality and meditation means guests on our Jivamukti yoga retreats will really accelerate their spiritual transformational journey as well as their yoga practice on the mat.

Reclaim Your Self Jivamukti is taught by one of London’s very best Jivamukti yoga teachers based at Triyoga London, Emma Henry. Emma’s classes are ‘dynamic, innovative and playful’.

You can find this yoga style on lots of our most popular, most extraordinary retreat destinations including Mongolia and Norway. Emma also unites with Adam Husler (read more about Adam and his own yoga style below!) in Tuscany for an exclusive fusion of Jivamukti and Vinyasa classes and workshops.


Vinyasa Yoga

adam husler yoga instructor teaching yoga class
Adam Husler teaching his creative style of Vinyasa yoga

Vinyasa (pronounced Vin-ya-sa) means ‘to place in a special way’, refering to the physical postures in the case of yoga. Vinyasa is often considered one of the most athletic but also most accessible styles of yoga.

Vinyasa classes coordinate movement with breath to flow from one pose to another, Sun Salutations are the most well-known example of this, and they are a feature in many other yoga styles, including Jivamukti. Many types of yoga can be considered Vinyasa flows such as Ashtanga, power yoga, and prana. Vinyasa classes can differ widely depending on the teacher.

Taught by sought-after yoga teacher Adam Husler on Reclaim Your Self, you can expect retreat Vinyasa yoga to be non-dogmatic in approach and characterised by creative sequencing. Adam focuses on mobility over flexibility and honours anatomical precision.

Join Adam on retreats including Iceland, Azores and Tuscany to learn Vinyasa and develop your practice further from one of the top yoga instructor’s in the industry.

Adam is a teacher in some of the best yoga studios central London has to offer, including TriYoga and Equinox and also teaches yoga classes online.


Slow Flow VinyasaSomatic Yoga Practice

jean hall yoga instructor back forearm bend practice yoga wheel
Our yoga instructor Jean Hall practicing back bends as part of her somatic style yoga practice.

For a truly creative yoga style incorporating elements of Vinyasa fused with somatic practice to heighten your sense of your body from within, seek out a Reclaim Your Self retreat with yoga instructor Jean Hall.

Jean also teaches at triyoga and has been a yoga teacher in london for 18 years. Jean draws from her dance background and training in many different yoga and movement styles including Iyengar and Ashtanga to create a unique, flowing somatic style of yoga. Jean says:

‘I teach a style of yoga and movement that stems from a deep listening within, so that the body’s knowing can be heard, felt and valued. My approach is both traditional and innovative. I am inspired by creative sequencing of postures and transitions, that quietly and sequentially unfold into dynamic flows, to help draw students and teachers safely beyond perceived limitations and closer to true potential and confidence.’

Expect to be challenged with backbends, inversions and standing poses and to leave feeling reconnected with your body and inspired in your yoga practice. Practice yoga with Jean on our Costa Rica luxury yoga retreat.


Ashtanga Yoga

sun salutations yoga style sunset on the beach
Sun salutations in extraordinary places

In Sanskrit, the original language of yoga, Ashtanga is translated as ‘Eight Limb Path.’ The eight limbs are formed of the yamas (observances and behaviours), the niyamas (principles we should follow in our daily lives), asana (posture), pranayama (breath work), pratyahara (sense withdrawal), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (absorption into the Universal). Ashtanga classes are therefore deeply rooted in spirituality.

Ashtanga yoga is usually a very physically demanding sequence of postures that each yogi is expected to learn, so this yoga style is much stricter than others as it follows a set sequence. An Ashtanga class will start with five sun salutation As and five sun salutation Bs before moving into a series of standing and floor postures then relaxation. Vinyasa yoga stems from Ashtanga’s flowing style which also links breath and movement.

In Mysore, India, people gather to practice this form of yoga together at their own pace—if you see Mysore-led Ashtanga, it’s expected of you to know the series.

While not formally taught on our yoga retreats, our instructor Jean is well versed in Ashtanga yoga. Discover more about the practice in her published books.


Kirtan Yoga and Meditation

campfire in mongolian desert singing kirtan
Joyous campfire Kirtan in the Mongolian wilderness

Derived from an ancient form of yoga called ‘Bhakti’, Kirtan yoga is often considered more of a meditation or mantra practice in the West because it doesn’t use asana.

Instead, yogis adopt a seated position in which to take part in a ‘performance’ of call and response chanting accompanied by music, which is often live. A Sanskrit word or mantra is repeated in time with the music which produces a meditative—and incredibly joyous—effect.

Kirtan can initially be a uncomfortable for us Westerners unused to public chanting, the language of Sanskrit, and group sing-a-long. But as soon as you give yourself permission to defy societal norms and let go you’ll be rewarded with a rich (and actually very un-scary after all!) experience.

And the best thing about Kirtan? Nobody cares whether you get the words right or sing in tune!

Try kirtan alongside Jivamukti on our Mongolia retreat. Suspend all judgement and join us for camp fire chanting under the stars to your heart’s content! This inspired yoga highlight in the Mongolian wilderness is truly exulting.


Retreat Yoga FAQ

Can beginner yogis come on retreat?

It is advisable that you have tried yoga and know how to follow a flow class before you come. You don’t need to be a yoga expert or be super flexible but a basic knowledge of asana and a good fitness level means you will get the most out of your retreat.

4-5 hours of yoga a day can be challenging but our very experienced teachers will make sure you and your classmates get what you need from every class.

If you’re unsure, please contact us for a chat and we will be happy to advise you.

Will advanced yogis be challenged?

We work with respected, senior teachers in some pretty special places, which means many of their regular students or experienced international yogis come along to these retreats, to practice alongside others who are new to this teacher or yoga style.

Teachers of this calibre are very well trained to make sure everyone in class gets what they need. Sometimes they will offer focused workshops on a retreat for advanced yogis or newcomers, depending on what is needed. We are absolutely sure that you will be inspired and challenged whatever your level.

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