Strike a Pose: Intro to Yoga
HB Life’s guide to yoga styles
Lady Gaga does it, as do the New York Giants and busy business executives in Hawaii.
Yoga, once considered an “alternative” practice, has gone mainstream as people recognize its benefits, which can range from increased flexibility and core strength to lower blood pressure and improved mental health.
But depending on what kind you’re talking about, “doing yoga” can mean anything from gentle stretches to a workout so intense it leaves pools of sweat on your mat. Here’s a guide to the major styles and locations in central Honolulu where they are available.
Iyengar: A slow, meditative style of yoga that emphasizes the pose, or asana. Iyengar lets even newbies experience proper body alignment with props like foam blocks and ropes. Students hold poses for several breaths, often with hands-on adjustment from teachers.
Great if: You like precision, variety or want to wind down. Good for beginners.
Find it: Iyengar Yoga Honolulu
Vinyasa or Vinyasa Flow: Vinyasa yoga gets its high from the flow, or transition, from one pose to the next. Poses typically last for just one breath, so it’s more of a workout.
Great if: You’re a cardio lover who craves variety.
Find it: Open Space Yoga
Studios at Fort Street Mall and Diamond Head
Ashtanga: With Ashtanga, the body is in almost continual motion. One of the goals of this style of yoga is to create “internal fire.” Translation: It’s cardio heaven, so bring a towel. Ashtanga practitioners go through a fixed series of poses. There are four series (or six, depending on who you ask), and you don’t move on to the next one until you’ve perfectly mastered your current series.
Great if: You’re a fitness buff who likes consistency and measurable progress.
Find it: Purple Yoga Hawaii
2615 S. King St., Suite A305
Power: In the mid-1990s, power yoga evolved from Ashtanga yoga as a fitness-based practice that’s best described as yogini-meets-gym rat. Power yoga’s playlists skew toward dubstep and away from om.
Great if: You’re looking for a workout with the physical benefits of yoga.
Find it: CorePower Yoga
4211 Waialae Ave.
Bikram: There’s a lot of yoga being done in heated rooms, but not all of it is Bikram, where every session features a single, patented 26-posture flowing yoga sequence that lasts for 90 minutes and stays constant from class to class. The room must be heated to 105 degrees. Any deviation from Bikram rules means that you’re just doing “hot yoga.”
Great if: You like to know exactly what you’re getting, and what you want is 90 minutes of sweat-it-out purification.
Find it: Bikram Yoga Honolulu
1120 12th Ave.
Hatha: In a sense, it’s all “hatha yoga,” a term that came from India, where it distinguishes physical, pose-based practice from the other aspects of yoga that involve breathing, meditation, and spiritual practice and philosophy. Local yoga teacher Stephanie Keiko Kong says that, in India, the physical side of yoga is sometimes considered “remedial. It’s for people who can’t meditate yet.” Technically, hatha yoga can be anything from Bikram to restorative – but, in the West, it often connotes a gentler style of yoga, with attention to alignment rather than flow.
Great if: You’ve tried more strictly defined styles and haven’t yet found one you love.
Find it: Everywhere. If a class is described as “hatha,” it likely didn’t fit in the boxes of other yoga styles.
Restorative: Restorative yoga isn’t a school, but an approach. A restorative class uses passive poses (think lying or sitting) supported by yoga props, with long hold times and slow breathing, to relax the body and restore the spirit.
Great if: You’re pau hana.
Find it: Yoga Hawaii
1152 Koko Head Ave.