The growing popularity of yoga in Hong Kong means we are now spoilt for choice when it comes to hitting the mat and reaping the rewards of this multi-beneficial practice. But fear not, because yoga teacher Ann da Silva from The Yoga Room is here to help you sift through the many options on offer to find the right style for you.
Type “yoga hong kong” on any search engine, and the number of studios and classes that pop up will definitely surprise even yoga teachers and practitioners alike. Yoga is becoming so popular in this diverse and fast-paced city, that there is always something to satisfy the most discerning yogi – from larger fitness chains to smaller boutique style studios. Classes come in the form of group classes – both held in studios, or even the great outdoors – to private sessions in homes as well as upscale spas and hotels. Class styles are just as diverse, and it can get quite confusing for someone new to yoga to decide what is right for him or her. So how do you choose?
Step One: Finding the Right Style
The type of yoga that’s best for you will depend on your own fitness level and initial goal. To help you find the right style for you, here are some of the more common forms of yoga on offer that you might want to consider.
Suitable for: Beginners and experienced yogis alike
Geared for: Overall wellbeing and sense of harmony
Hatha Yoga is a moderately paced, systematic style of yoga that focuses mostly on the practice of yoga poses, breathing as well as mediation, concentration and/or chanting techniques. Depending on the level of the students, teachers can usually give appropriate adjustments to better serve the needs of each individual. Benefits of Hatha Yoga are multi-fold, from increasing flexibility and strength in the body, to stress relief, and enhanced focus and concentration. Regular practice of Hatha Yoga can greatly improve overall wellbeing and harmony both in the mind and the body.
Ashtanga, Power, and Vinyasa Yoga
Suitable for: Intermediate yogis and sports activists
Geared for: Cardio, weight loss and body toning
Faster paced yoga styles that flow from one yoga pose to another connected by the breath – without too much rest in between – make great cardio workouts that tone and strengthen the body while cultivating focus and determination. Be prepared to sweat a lot! Ashtanga yogis (or Ashtangi’s as we call them) are very dedicated practitioners who follow a set sequence every time. Power or Vinyasa Yoga are more flexible in a sense that they still contain a short set sequence (“the vinyasa”) that connects one pose to another, but each class is different according to the teacher.
Iyengar, Restorative, and Yoga Therapy
Suitable for: Beginners to experienced yogis, people with injuries or health issues
Geared for: Precise alignment, stress relief, assisting in injury recovery or prevention
This is a myriad of yoga styles that all originate from the traditional Iyengar Yoga that was originally created by B.K.S. Iyengar – taught with the aid of various props such as blocks, bolsters, and other tools in order to ensure that each pose is precisely personalised to the individual. This style of yoga is usually much slower paced to allow the body to settle down and adjust to the poses, and is therefore more suitable for people who are prone to injuries, recovering from health issues, as well as suffering from stress and mental tension. Class sizes tend to be smaller to allow for individual attention and a lot of care is usually put on proper alignment to prevent injury.
Yin and Yin Yang Yoga
Suitable for: Beginners to experienced yogis
Geared for: Stress relief, improving flexibility, creating balance
Yin Yoga is the calming, stilling aspect of yoga, where each pose is being held in longer duration of 2 to 10 minutes at a time, with slow transitions in and out of each pose. Most of the poses are done either in a seated or supine (lying down) position and are geared towards stretching the deeper connective tissues in the body. When the body is still and the mind is calm, the Parasympathetic Nervous system is activated, relieving stress, enhancing self-healing, as well as balancing the hormones in the body. This is one of the best antidotes to the fast-paced, stressful, modern day lifestyle.
Yin Yang Yoga, on the other hand, is a combination practice of the active and energising Yang with the still and calming Yin aspects of yoga that will first energise and tone the body, then ground and calm the mind, creating overall harmony and balance. It is a great practice on its own right and is suitable for anyone looking for a balancing practice that will benefit both the body and the mind on all levels.
Pre and Post-natal Yoga
Suitable for: Mom’s to-be (prenatal), and, new moms (postnatal)
Geared for: Prenatal – Relieving discomforts during pregnancy, toning, and preparing the body for birth
Postnatal – Postnatal recovery
Special yoga classes tailored to the needs of the various stages of pregnancy and postnatal recovery, Prenatal and Postnatal classes have been becoming more and more popular these days as a result of their effectiveness in both preparing for, and recovery from, birth. Teachers leading these classes have to be specially trained to ensure safety both for the mom and the baby.
Suitable for: People with cold constitutions, office-bound yogis
Geared for: Warming up the body, increasing water loss / sweating, weight loss (maybe)
Contrary to popular belief, Hot Yoga – or simply, yoga classes practiced in heated rooms – are not for everyone, especially for those who are completely new to yoga, pregnant, or have heart or blood pressure issues. Profuse sweating and overheating can pose serious health issues and one must exercise caution when trying Hot Yoga for the first time. Drink plenty of water and lie down to rest if one feels nauseous, light-headed, or dizzy during the class. Stretching in a heated room can create a false sense of “increased flexibility” causing one to overstretch, so be mindful and pay attention carefully. Hot Yoga is not without its benefit though. It can be a nice, warm change for cold winter days, for someone who has a cold constitution, and a great “waking up” of the sweat mechanism in someone who does not sweat naturally. As with all forms of yoga and exercise, mindful practice and moderation is always the key.
Read more! Find our more about hot yoga in our interview with Holly Wong
Step Two: Finding the Right Class
If you would like to begin yoga, it is important not to rush into joining any gym or studio without doing a little exploring on your own. Almost every yoga studio or teacher offer some form of discounted or free trial classes, so call and book a trial if you can.
Let the membership consultant know what your initial goals and expectations are, so he or she can suggest something that may be suitable for you.
On the day of your trial class, arrive at least 15 to 20 minutes early so you have adequate time to settle down before the class starts. If you find your first yoga experience less than ideal, do not despair! Just like finding the right hairdresser, finding the right type of yoga may take a little trial and error – give it another go, try another teacher, style of yoga, or even, another studio! With so many styles and studios in town, there is definitely something suitable for you!
Keen to get started? Check out the yoga classes on offer at The Yoga Room.