It’s out there, you know—the yoga style for you. But where, right? How can you find it if you’re new to the game? Well, you could audition studio after studio, searching out the mat time that gives you the kind of boost you’re looking for. Yes, you could do that. But it’s going to be time consuming and expensive and just might turn you off from yoga altogether. We don’t want that. So do this instead—dig through your insides and identify you’re particular wants and needs and then match ‘em with the styles described below. This is me doing the work for you. You’re welcome.
Are you ready for joy? Are you eager to harness the moonlight that’s shining out your ass to change the world for good? Yes? Well then, with a deepening of love, go find yourself an Anusara studio. The Anusara devotees are The Happy People. They hold hands when they chant. They can conjure a rainbow to leap from their hearts and uplift those around them. If you can’t see yourself turning your chest skyward while you beg for Ganesh’s blessings or grasping your neighbor’s foot to hoist it higher, stay away from Anusara—it’ll scare the hell out of you.
Or maybe you’re the lazy type? Would you like to do some yoga that tricks you into thinking you’re inert while you’re actually giving your body some serious stretching? Do yin yoga baby. In yin you’ll hold poses on the floor for five to ten minutes at a time. It’s about settling into the sinews of your hips and releasing hydraulic acid—okay, it may not be that, but I swear that whatever acid they’re trying to release is something they made up. In any case, if you dig the idea of falling asleep in uncomfortable positions, it’s yin yoga for you.
Are you clinically insane? Or at least all-the-way Type A? Do Bikram yoga. It’s a hot mess. When you’re done with class you’ll be clad shorts so soaked with sweat that when you wring them out in your bathtub you’ll release two and half cups of perspiration (all yours!). What with every Bikram, class being the same hell—90 minutes, 105 degrees, humidity enough to swim in, fluorescent lights, mirrors and a teacher that barks at you for every single one of those 90 minutes—every time you exit the studio you’ll be astonished that you’re still alive. And then (this here’s the crazy part) you’ll straightaway be itching to go back tomorrow. At the beginning of each class, Bikram teachers command you to try to kill yourself. And you do as you’re told. Masochistic nutjobs unite!
Anal retentive, perhaps? Diagnosed obsessive compulsive? Iyengar yoga was created for you, kid. Precision! Precision! Precision! Until you’ve nailed each posture the teacher directs you to execute with flawless alignment you aren’t moving on. Hips go here. Arms go there. Feet go exactly. right. there. Iyengar is yoga with t-squares and protractors. And it’s the yoga style least likely to release you from class requiring medical attention; blocks and straps and blankets and bolsters and rulers and pulleys and scaffolding make damned sure of that.
If the fifteen square feet of a mat just can’t contain the freedom of your soul, if convention hurts your heart, if your inner drumbeat isn’t a drum at all but is instead a moody trio of harmonia, cymbals and a Tibetan singing bowl, The Creator forged Vinyasa yoga for you. You don’t have arms anymore; you have willow branches, free to flow in the wind. Release them! Let your prana—the universal source of breath!—lead you through your own groovy flow . . . and wherever else that vital nectar might take you!
If you can’t sit still and you’ve got one of those run amok minds, get yerself to an Ashtanga class. Stat! To treat your ADHD you have options: Ritalin or Ashtanga yoga. Both are great for quelling your hyperactivity but just one of them burns enough calories to power a neighborhood. Can ya guess which? I dare you to let your mind wander in an Ashtanga class; you’ll end up six postures behind the rest of the class or face-planting out of bakasana. What’s that you say? What is this bakasana thing? Well, I typed that word and my spelling autocorrect changed it to “bananas.” Let that tell the story.
Are you smarter than everyone else and at least ten times as boring? Oh my, was restorative yoga made for you! Picture it: an hour, maybe an hour and a half, on your back, supported by bolsters and blankets, under the guise of restoring your mind and your body. Restoring it to factory new? Uh, maybe. I’m actually not quite sure. But I do know that the aim of this class looks to be to put you almost all the way to sleep without actually letting you reach REM. (Like taking you mostly to an orgasm and then snapping your fingers—Well!That’s that! A job well done!) You’ll either depart the class half-lidded and gliding across the floor, serene in this meditative peace you feel from marrow to epidermis. Or you’ll leave wanting to kill people. If it’s the latter, please see above and attend an Ashtanga class. You need to release some energy, pal.
Megan Romo gave up a few weeks into yoga teacher training when she realized that she’s too selfish to focus on anyone else’s practice but her own. She’s not ashamed of that anymore. Instead she likes to call it a honed self awareness born of years on the mat. Presently in the throes of an MFA in creative nonfiction, Megan’s decided now’s not the time to kick the diet soda habit. Follow Megan’s whatnot on her blog Remarks From Sparks and keep up on her graphic art on Facebook.