This is my very simplified view. Authentic yoga teaches us how to breathe properly, which is crucial to boosting our health and self-development.
Just as a tree grows up before branching out in all directions, yoga has evolved into many styles. It is 5000 years old; some believe it may even be older than that. The Vinyasa style was developed in the 1970s.
Vinyasa is a series of poses to keep you moving and build heat; it's like a flowing, full-body dance. It is all about stamina. Over time, vinyasa develops a person physically and mentally. I enjoy it because head to toe, my body feels so alive afterwards, while my mind is calm and brighter.
Hatha is a generic term. In hatha, we hold physical poses (asanas) for longer. It's all about gentle movement, with pauses in-between each asana.
Hatha alternates between sitting on the mat for poses and standing up. It is slow and steady. It seems subtle, yet it goes deeply into the body.
Yoga can challenge and soothe us in equal measure. So, which style to choose? If you are undecided, I suggest that you try both to discover what resonates with you! I even teach a course that explores various styles each week, so that people can discover what resonates with them. Ultimately, the only way for you to know how yoga feels is to experience it for yourself.
To be apprehensive about any new activity is completely natural. Before your first yoga class you might feel anxious, excited or a mixture of both. The number one topic that I hear mentioned time and time again by my newcomers is flexibility.
Flexibility is not required for yoga! Social media is full people who are addicted to posing pictures of themselves 'doing yoga'. What is even funnier is seeing images of people who are engaged in acrobatics....and calling it 'yoga'. The result? Some people are scared to even try!
To me, yoga is about feeling good, not forcing the body into any shapes. Yes, a person's flexibility can increase over time, but that is not the primary aim. And yoga is no quick fix, either. If I don't practice regularly, I'm stiff. It's that simple.
I see people using yoga to cope with their own stiffness, stress, arthritis, back issues.....all sorts. Some are dealing with illness or addiction, others want to enhance sports training or reduce their risk of injury. Most people love yoga because it feels good on so many levels.
Yoga has served humanity for over 5000 years and it doesn't need me to defend it; I just wanted to point out the fact that you do not have to be flexible!
Everyone moves differently. In yoga I invite you to connect with your breath as you explore and expand the mobility of your unique body with awareness.