So the burning question...which style of yoga is the best? Which type of yoga is best for your core? Which type of yoga is best for relaxing? Which type of yoga is best for alignment cues? Which style of meditation is most effective? Which is better - hot yoga, cold yoga, temperate yoga, bikram yoga, iyengar yoga, power yoga, vinyasa yoga, ashtanga yoga, shadow yoga, forrest yoga, anusara yoga, yin yoga, sivananda yoga, kundalini yoga, hatha yoga, hatha flow yoga, dynamic yoga, healing yoga, restorative yoga, jivamukti yoga, [insert your preferred yoga style here] yoga... The list goes on and on and on and frankly it can become confusing and tiresome. Rest assured my style is better than your style!
I practice and teach yoga. I often call it vinyasa yoga as it denotes a quality of flow and movement. But it just yoga. Just yoga, you say? This question is usually accompanied by a raised skeptical eyebrow. For some reason just yoga isn't good enough for some yoga folk. But there must be a lineage, an affiliation, a label. The truth is that no style is inherently bad. No style of yoga is inherently better than any other. It is the attitude of the yogi that makes yoga what it is.
I have a few essential qualities that I crave in my practice and strive to offer in my teaching. A yoga practice that creates calm over chaos. Yoga that cultivates strength and ease equally. Yoga that is mindful and fun. Yoga that is expansive rather than restrictive. Yoga that melts away tension rather than creates it. Yoga that fits my body, my mind, my breath, my intention and not yoga that requires me to contort myself into a precast mould.
My yin teacher once said that if I hurt myself during class it is my fault. And therein lies the essence of yoga. Awareness, intention, reflection and acceptance are the only things that matter. If you are unsure about what you need, try out different classes, different styles, different teachers until you find something that resonates with you. You may find your yoga needs evolve over time. Mine have certainly changed. Does it really matter what it is called? Listen to your body, move with care and enjoy your practice!