Rachel Grunwell

Rachel Grunwell is a fitness writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Which style of yoga suits you best?

There's all sorts of styles of yoga on offer around NZ. Sus out which one suits you as fitness writer Rachel Grunwell shares six of the most popular.

Foundation Yoga.
Foundation Yoga.

"You don't have to be a hippy, tree-loving vegan to do yoga," says Auckland yoga instructor Erin O'Hara.

"It's accessible to everyone and it can be used in everyday life - to bring peace and relieve stress".

Yoga/Pilates was ranked as having the 12th highest participation rate among various sport and recreation activities, according to an Active New Zealand survey in 2007/8. The survey is being updated this year. However, O'Hara and many others in the business believe yoga has continued to blossom: Yoga retreats, festivals and different styles of yoga classes are on offer and now cater increasingly to the mainstream.

Finding a style of yoga that suits you depends on what you want out of your practice i.e. to relax, increase flexibility, build strength or to brighten your spirit.

Here are six styles on offer around NZ

1. Foundation Yoga (also called Bikram) - at EastWest

What is it? It's 26 postures and two breathing exercises in a room that's 38-degrees. The traditional style class is 90-minutes, but there is a 60-minute option now too.

Other styles offered include Power, a Vinyasa style where students flow through different sequences in a lower 32-degrees, and Yin classes, that are full of deep, restful stretching in a slightly above normal room temperature. Instructor Bruce Simons sums up this "as just so healing, for whatever injuries you've got, mental or physical". Actually, he calls any yoga "psychologically gratifying. You feel better all around".

Pros: The heat sweats out toxins.
Cons: The heat, but you acclimatise, says Bruce.
Where: 26 Ponsonby Rd, Ponsonby, and 8 Alma St, New Market, eastwest.co.nz
How much: New students can pay $20 for three classes over 7-days. See other price options online.

2. Acro-yoga - at Urban Ashram

Acro-Yoga. Photo / Michael Craig
Acro-Yoga. Photo / Michael Craig

What is it? Yoga and acrobatics blended. One person balances and supports another in the air, practicing poses. Lululemon ambassador Nikki Ralston regularly brings in overseas instructors to her studio for workshops on this style of yoga.

Pros: This challenges experienced yogis, who can get a kick out of partner work. It's about strength work, power, performance, balance, trust and it's "playful".
Cons: There's lots of partner contact and so no time for shyness.
Where: The next workshops are with Claudine and Honza Lafond from Yoga Beyond, April 18-19 (bookings essential) 2/49 Brown St, Ponsonby, urbanashram.co.nz
How much? $65 per session, $160 for 3 sessions.

3. Restorative Yoga - with Karla Brodie

Restorative Yoga.
Restorative Yoga.

What is it? This 90-minute calming and soothing yoga sees you recline over bolsters and blankets in restful postures (each held for 10 to 20 minutes). This can be a powerful antidote to high stress levels. It's great for the digestive, nervous and respiratory systems and "a great way to slow down", says Karla.

Pros: A tool for helping insomnia, anxiety, hyper-ventilation and some other health conditions.
Cons: If you struggle to sit still you'll miss the benefits.
Where: To find the studios Karla teaches at visit karlabrodie.co.nz
How much: See the above website.

4.Kids Yoga - at Golden Yogi

Kids Yoga.
Kids Yoga.

What is it? Kids stretch, learn to balance, develop body awareness, and "to quieten their minds" - actually "it's more creative play", says studio co-owner Erin O'Hara, also a Lululemon ambassador. It's for kids aged 4 to 12-years and they're usually split into groups. The little ones might do animal poses and fun noises, while the older kids might do team-work and more regular yoga, says Erin.

Pros: It's fun fitness. Kids learn teamwork too.
Cons: You must book in advance as class numbers are intimate. Actually this is a plus.
Where: 13 Barry's Point Rd, Takapuna, goldenyogi.co.nz
How much: Kids under 12-years: $12 casual, 10-classes $100 (valid 6-months).

5. Yoga Meets Dance - at Yoga Ground

Yoga Meets Dance.
Yoga Meets Dance.

What is it? Gentle stretching and alignment of Hatha flow yoga leading into several styles of dance including African, structured, aerobic and improvised moves for 75-minutes. It's put to "world fusion music" and sometimes props like silks are used. Then there's meditation and relaxation to end.

Pros: It's unique.
Cons: There's some improvised dance which might not be everyone's bag.
Where: 56 Surrey Crescent, Grey Lynn, yogaground.co.nz
How much: $15 casual, $10 concession.

6. BumpYoga: Yoga and Pilates for Pregnancy and Beyond

BumpYoga.
BumpYoga.

What it is? Yoga that tones and strengthens the body for carrying a baby. It also focuses on specific points which can affect pregnant women i.e. how to relieve back pain. Breathing and relaxation exercises help for labour preparation.

Pros: Great way to keep moving and a place to network with other soon-to-be mums, says owner Shelley McGregor.
Cons: Classes are suitable from 16-weeks pregnant. Shelley explains women are usually too exhausted to participate earlier and it's at the stage where women have had a scan and have confidence that everything is "on track". After this, they can do a "mummy and baby yoga class".
Where: Howick Recreation Centre, 563 Pakuranga Highway, Howick, bumpyoga.co.nz
How much: $18; 10-classes $150.

- www.nzherald.co.nz

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