No, The Pretzel isn’t a yoga style, and there isn’t a style called “Right Foot Blue, Left Hand Red” (but there totally should be.)
If you’re brand new to yoga, you also should know that the practice is more than just an assortment of twists and turns with clever names that may or may not be uncomfortable.
In the 5,000-ish years that humans have extending their bodies to achieve inner and outer peace plus improve their overall flexibility, endurance and breathing, all sorts of variations and disciplines have been created. One size doesn’t in any way fit all, which doesn’t help when you’re trying to figure out which type to start with and which is best for you. Not to mention that some health and fitness clubs sometimes offer several types or even create their own blends of classic yoga forms to create a better overall multi-disciplinary experience for participants, not unlike focusing on one area or cross-training.
The good news is anyone can try any style anytime, even though some more advanced styles might be a little challenging to newcomers. But with enough practice you’ll find one that is good for your mind and for your body.
Here’s what you need to know to get stretching.
This style focuses on combining breath and movement in a rhythmic, almost dance-like activity. It can have a faster pace than other styles and is known to raise heartrates. Participants can go through several poses without spending too much time on any particular one. An effective instructor can also vary the pace, and may even play music to further emphasize the proper beats to follow for the different sequences. If you’re new to yoga but enjoy high-intensity training or even longer-term endurance activities, you might appreciate this style – not a lot of slow lingering but a faster pace, more motion and a wider blend of stretches.
If you’re new to yoga, and perhaps less physically active in general, this slower, lower-impact style may be ideal to start with. The focus here is less about large physical movement, but instead more on breathing and centering. Basically you hold a pose for a few gentle breaths and release it. It shouldn’t be thought of as purely for beginners – some longtime practitioners sometimes like the slower, calmer pace.
This particular style focuses on fine-tuning the body’s overall alignment by working with different parts of it. It’s a good way to learn about different functions and mechanics, especially if an instructor share what forms and motions can benefit different body parts.
This style also utilizes tools/props to further enhance resistance or encourage motion, such as blocks or straps. Poses are also held for a longer period of time, compared to the faster-moving Vinyasa. Iyengar also can have some appeal to people with injuries who use different parts of their body better than others.
This style can be called painful but satisfying. The yoga portion consists of two breathing exercises and 26 specific poses over a 90-minute period. The challenge is that the room is supposed to be heated and humid, sometimes over 100 degrees. So not only are you potentially sweating from the exercise but the heat. But it is described as being a satisfying workout that never varies, and even provides de-toxing. Newcomers may want to try other styles first, but if they’re up for the challenge, be sure to drink water ahead of time and rest when needed. Some clubs offer a variation simply called “Hot Yoga” that has the same warm environment but varies the types of exercises or the class time.
This precise style only includes six groups of poses, but participants are required to do each sequence in the correct order to create an optimal outcome. While some yoga styles have several different sequences that an instructor can use and make every class a little unique, Ashtanga practitioners must stick to this same group of poses. This could be a good place to start for people who prefer routine and predictability.
Your community likely has instructors familiar with the different styles who can give you an idea of the effort required and where to begin.