street art yoga

Rogue Yogi School: What are the Different Styles of Yoga?

I've been asked in my private Facebook lounge, "Rogue Yogis Run the World" a few questions about how to choose the right class of yoga to take. There's so many different names, categories, skill levels. It can be so intimidating or risky to take a class without having prior knowledge about it! What if you don't know the pose names? What if you have injuries? What if you just want the fitness aspect, or if you want to be sure there will be meditation with your physical practice? This is a sh*t ton of questions for a beginner to deal with!!! Note: When I say the word "yoga", I'm talking about the physical practice of Yoga. The stretching of the limbs, the movement on the mat, the combination with meditation. The actual word "Yoga" applies to an entire philosophy of living a nourishing and peaceful life. But, in this blogpost, I'll be referring to Yoga as the class you can take in studios or practice at home.

I'll mention here about the various styles that range from a sweat-inducing/ass-kicking fitness class to a gentle and very relaxing one that needs no effort exerted (lazy yoga, what?!)  There are actually over a dozen styles of yoga, but I'll cover about half of them here. These are the most popular styles and the kinds that I support for a Rogue Yogi lifestyle, starting with...

Hatha: It used to be the name of the general form of yoga. The physical aspect of practicing the "Asanas" (the poses) combined with the meditation. So, styles like Iyengar, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, and Power are all under the "umbrella" of Hatha! But, now it's begun to be used as a category of Yoga that's very gentle. It's perfect for a beginner or someone who's gone off on a life "tangent" and hasn't been on his/her mat in a long-ass time. Recovering from an injury? Step back in with a Hatha class! The students remain in each pose for about 8-10 breaths. With each movement is one breath. Inhale to lengthen, exhale to contract. The poses are not vigorous nor are they intended to build strength. They're also known as "level 1", "gentle yoga class" or "gentle hatha" classes.

Vinyasa: If you see a YouTube video, or take a class where you're led to a plank position, then down to the mat, followed by the chest lifting, then lowering the chest down, pressing the hands down while lifting the hips high up (which has your body creating an upsidedown "V" shape), that whole sequence of poses is called a "Vinyasa". These classes incorporate this sequence, perhaps over and over (as in Sun Salutations at the beginning of class), or interspersed in between other poses. As with Hatha, each movement is synchronized with breath. Each time you lengthen, extend, contract, you are taking a deep inhale or a deep exhale. This helps to facilitate oxygen circulating throughout your body as you tone your muscles.

Some classes move you through the poses very quickly to give you a cardio effect. Those are called "power flow"/"dynamic" classes. I honestly don't dig these classes, as you aren't given enough time to connect with your breath and your body. I've almost injured myself in these types of classes because I'm just trying to keep up with the instructor's cues. I also don't like teaching these styles of classes because I'm too busy trying to move students through the sequences and have no time to get connected to my students. (Therefore, I don't teach this style anymore).

Ashtanga: Designed by Pattabhi Jois, one of the forefathers of the structured yoga that you see today. You are guided to breathe with each movement. Ashtanga has a set of specific poses to repeat at almost every class.  Each segment has 3-4 increasingly difficult degrees of the same pose. If you can't practice the higher version, you would repeat the previous version. What's really cool about Ashtanga, is that because you're practicing the same set of poses over and over and over, you have the ability to master it better, if not quicker, because you're so consistent with the poses.

(Mysore is the practice of doing an even smaller segment of a sequence over and over and over for at least an hour.)

The Ashtanga classes I take begin with a meditation, a theme around the practice, and some chanting. About 95% of the classes are the same poses. Once in awhile, we will learn a new pose towards the end of class, like an arm balance. So dope .

Your Ashtanga teacher would make adjustments and also make an assessment on you being ready to move on to the next level series, with a bit more advanced poses. Mine gives explanations on why we practice a specific pose a specific way. She describes what can happen to the body with a wrong and repeated movement that could be injurious.

Ashtanga involves a lot of core engagement, or locking in your abdominal muscles. This helps to bring in the other muscles for any given pose.

At the end of the classes, there is some more chanting before we lie down in Savasana/Corpse Pose.

Power: Power Yoga is a form of Vinyasa and Ashtanga Yoga. There are various styles of Power Yoga. There's 2-3 different teachers that developed their own style of Power Yoga. It's kind of misnomer, as it isn't always about generating Power and Vigorous Strength to practice on the mat. It can be, as there are challenging poses to hold for 5 deep breaths. There is no rapid movement from one pose to another, and there's more time to get connected to your breath and how your body is feeling. It's actually very meditative.Power Yoga doesn't have the same sequence every time. It depends on how the teacher is gauging the room, or how the teacher is feeling. The one constant may be the sun salutations, which is at the beginning of the practice. But, after that, there may be a whole different set of poses that the teacher did not instruct on during the last class. As with any yoga class you have the option to rest in Childs Pose, take a sip of water, and join the rest of the class for the next pose that you feel ready for.

I see it more as an "empowering" yoga, because you are encouraged to think for yourself and to take your practice to whatever length is good for you at the moment. There's also dialogue throughout the entire practice. It mainly focuses on reminding the students to breathe, to get connected to the body and to quiet the mind. They're ways to bring awareness to the practice.

The style of Power Yoga I studied was designed by Bryan Kest. He studied under Pattabhi Jois, incorporated his Ashtanga yoga from the Eastern world and adjusted it to meet the Western world halfway. If you haven't noticed, yoga classes in the Eastern world are a lot more meditative, while yoga classes in the Western world are a lot more fitness-oriented. So, Power Yoga takes both hand in hand.

Iyengar: Designed by B.K.S. Iyengar. Very technical form of yoga. Where the same poses as the other styles are demonstrated, but a lot more time is spent on the alignment, the musculoskeletal alignment, thorough cues for each and every part of your body, and use of props (blocks, straps, bolsters, chairs). There's a huge focus on how the pose looks. Some may not generate a lot of heat due to not incorporating vinyasas. I have taken some classes where we were engaging so many parts of our body that we were building up a sweat. The next thing you know, we are working on headstands and handstands.

Kundalini: Really focused on breathing exercises with chanting, mantras. Belief is that you have this energy coiled up at the base of your spine. It's like a coiled up serpent. So your kundalini practice would unleash all these pent up areas of energy from your body.

Yin: Sometimes referred to as "yin", "restorative" or "yin/restorative". They kind of overlap. With Yin Yoga, you're kind of relaxing in a pose, but you are actively stretching for at least 5 minutes. You're asked to find your "next edge" which is a point of discomfort but to deepen your pose and getting your body used to the pose. Improves circulation, flexibility, fascia, tendons.

Restorative: You're propped up by all these bolsters to ease any effort on your behalf to be in the pose. For example, I led a Yoga Nidra class. I started my student off with a supported Fish pose. The bolster is under his back to lift his chest, with another bolster under his knees. His head is resting on a blanket on top of a block. There's no trying to find an edge. He's just simply relaxing with no effort.

SoooOooOooo...I mentioned a LOT of styles of yoga!

One tip on how to choose which one to try:

-Call into the studio and ask the staff to describe how the class goes. How long are you in a pose? Is it 5 breaths? or 10? Is it gentle, or is it sweat-inducing? Is there meditation, spirituality, or any "dharma" talks? The more you ask, the more you can be prepared on what to expect.

Check out YouTube for demonstrations of this.

If you have injuries? Take restorative or a Hatha class. Get your bearings on how a yoga class flows. You'll have enough time to gauge if a certain pose feels good or not. If you choose to take any of the other yoga classes (Power, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Iyengar)...if something doesn't feel good... that's where your brain and heart come in. Use your common sense. Rest in Childs pose, take a sip of water, then join the class on the next pose. Restorative is good for relaxation of muscles and connective tissue as you recover from your injury.

See if the teacher is understanding and knowledgeable about modifications or alternative poses you can do to ease the weight off of the injured body part. More on how to assess a Teacher in another post!!

Was this blog helpful? Let me know in the comments below!!


Julie (Your Local Rogue Yogi)

Mural by Victor Reyes, his work is all over SF. Def check him out here!

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Inner Peace Amidst the Storm, Challenged Dreams, Determination

Life can come in such contrasting waves. Ebbs and flows of static that roll into tsunamis of activity that seem to come together at the same time. For a while, Rogue Yogi was just a concept in my heart with no direction. No clear step for me to take. I just knew I wanted to create a platform where everyone, regardless of religion, spirituality, diet preference and life choices could learn and practice yoga while embracing their natural selves. Rogue Yogi was meant to be an alternative voice for all modern and urban yogis to feel good in their own bodies, establish balance and enjoy their journeys in life. After years of the idea floating around, I finally had the bearings and the courage to go full throttle with it. Still no clear path of how to go about it, but a clear vision and a general sense of how to share it with anyone that resonated.

Funny how timing works.  I fell in love, got married to the love of my life, and made the decision to move to Barcelona in the Fall!

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No one can ever tell you what your future holds. Guessing doesn't guarantee the goods. sometimes, it feels like the moment you are clear about a decision, a vision, a dream...the universe throws a solid test in your path. It is as though you're being asked, "Do you really want this? Let's see how bad you do".

Within 2 weeks of embarking on making Rogue Yogi a real thing for you all, I took on a babysitting gig for my girlfriend. Never before had I babysat, never before did I realize how much time and mental energy it would take to keep this cute swaddled bundle of giggling joy from crying. Thinking I could easily write all of my blogs, publish all of my photographs during the daytime, I was proven wrong every single day for almost 30 days. This was an entire month of lessons, realizations and appreciations for parents everywhere. Didn't know how much work you had to put in for us, all the while working your full time jobs and/or building your own dreams.

Babies kind of have a schedule. At some point they'll wake up, become hungry, need a diaper change, need to be held, need to made eye contact with, and some combination of these things.

After I'd go home, I would have to make dinner with my Mongorrian, take care of the errands together, spend time together, but force myself to have the time to work on Rogue Yogi. Because, if I didn't make the time now, the momentum wouldn't happen before our move out of this country. The result: lots of late nights working, lots of waking up early, lots of tasks pushed aside to the next day, lots of exhaustion. When all of this is done, how much more work would I accomplish here? Would I get anything done when we move to Barcelona?

Imagine a wide coastal environment, with the warm sun beaming down onto the beachgoers of Barcelona. Add in a dash of the more relaxed European lifestyle. Sprinkle in a pinch of siestas, and now you have a recipe for relaxation (and a possible derailing of Rogue Yogi).

Triangle Pose, Street Art Yoga

Who knows? Maybe the solid work-ethic and the drive to succeed is an American societal norm. It's possible that the demand for numbers over laissez-faire breeds Type A personalities here. But, maybe, just maybe, it's just in my blood. Maybe I will carry this work ethic with me to Spain, and enjoy the best of both worlds. You know I am eager to try out every yoga class in every yoga studio in this town!

Maybe it's no use to predict the future. To fill this mind up with things that haven't happened, yet. To worry about problems that aren't actually happening. To project our destiny onto the sand.

While these thoughts are going on, there's other shit happening in the current moment. There's a lot of unrest happening all over the world. White cops shooting Black people. White cops shooting Mexican people. Ex-Militants shooting Cops in Dallas. Ex-Lovers shooting gay men in Orlando, Florida. People driving trucks into innocent people trying to enjoy the fireworks of Bastille Day in Nice, France. I don't have all of the facts. This is all that I know so far. And, so far, it's sad.

Then, there's the things in my life that quite going the way I had planned. Situations repeating enough times for me to decide that it is time for me to give energy elsewhere. The feeling of reaching a personal plateau and the need to step outside my comfort zone. The need to stay away from the danger zones. The wanting of staying in my creative zone.  The gradual letting go of everything I've attached to since starting the 2nd phase of my life in SF. It's fucking exhausting. It's important to acknowledge that this is happening. You know none of us can really ignore this, but it's also equally critical to get back to taking care of ourselves. Inner peace in our minds. Feeding into the positivity so everything else doesn't gain power over us. This is sort of like a "Spring Cleaning", where items, people and situations need to be cleaned out. This is necessary to create a wide open space for what's needing to arrive.

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If you're wondering why I'm passionate about sharing Yoga and Meditation with beginners, advanced practitioners, modern folk, urban citizens and everyone in between, this would be a prime example why. When things are good, they're good. But, when they're bad, they're bad. What can you put into practice now, what sails can you set now, so you can weather the storm a little better?

I'm not immune to any of these issues. None of us really are. That just might be a good thing, because we can come to our senses. We can be woken up to do something about ourselves. Decide how we have a part in the situation. Decide how to handle it. Make peace with our decision, and move forward with light and love.