There are many ways to explain the differences between styles of yoga practice. Most people will describe the technical and philosophical tenets of one style by comparing and contrasting it with others. I prefer to think of yoga as a giant banquet with many courses. Each style of yoga practice is its own course, with its own delicious qualities.
Hatha is like the salad course. It is fresh and easy to dive into. It doesn’t require fancy utensils or prior knowledge of a particular etiquette. It can be served before the main course or after. Sometimes people come to Hatha before moving on to more rigorous forms of yoga and sometimes they are led back when they realize how satisfying Hatha can be in its simplicity.
Vinyasa and Ashtanga are two very different main courses, each fulfilling in its own way. Vinyasa has such a beautiful presentation, each move carefully orchestrated by the chef to create an intended effect on the palate. While Ashtanga has a predetermined set of ingredients, its spice and vigor will keep you coming back for more. When you sit down to either of these practices, you know in advance how wonderful you’ll feel at the end but also how much you’ll have to work in order to get there.
While there are many other styles of yoga that certainly have a place at the table, in my opinion, Restorative yoga is undoubtedly the dessert. It’s perfect at the end of the day when you want to unwind with something indulgent. But restorative yoga also feels good at any time of the day. When you step into a restorative class, you can really take your time and savor every moment. As any eight year old can tell you, sometimes dessert before dinner really is the most satisfying choice. Everyone from young to old, in every type of body can find relaxation and enjoyment from restorative yoga.
Naturally, the food that tasted good to you yesterday might not be as satisfying today as some other dish. Sampling is definitely encouraged!! If you’ve never treated yourself to the dessert of the yoga world, come check out Yoga One’s new restorative class held on Friday afternoons at 4:00, you’ll be glad you came!