You can still go to a "general" yoga class but, as yoga has become more popular, yoga classes have tended to become more focused. These are some types of yoga class you may see advertised in spas and specialised yoga centres.
Ananda yoga is a deeply relaxing form of yoga, created as a preparation for meditation. This form of yoga is aimed at raising spiritual consciousness by focusing on the effects that particular yoga positions have on the inner self. Ananda yoga increases in difficulty as your flexibility and stamina improves. The process is slow and gentle, combining awareness of breathing, affirmations and specific postures. Ananda yoga is good for stress relief, deep relaxation and spiritual growth. Try it if you're interested in meditation, but prefer something with more physical movement.
Ashtanga (or Astanga) yoga
Ashtanga yoga is based on traditional yoga poses, but is fluid and more fast-paced than traditional yoga. Ashtanga yoga is also known as Raja yoga, power yoga and Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga. The aim is to combine breathing and movement to focus the mind and align the body. You'll focus on co-ordinating your breath with your movements. The transition between postures is dictated by the length of time between inhalation and exhalation. There is a definite emphasis on "flow". This form of yoga is very powerful and effective for toning muscles and improving fitness levels. It is practised in warm rooms so that your muscles are relaxed and free.
Bikram yoga's goal is to improve your general health. In Bikram yoga, traditional yoga poses and breathing exercises are performed in a heated, humid room. It is the most popular form of hot yoga. The heat and humidity of the room make it easier to perform stretches without straining muscles, and will increase circulation. Bikram yoga involves a series of 26 postures and two breathing exercises. You will get hot, so consider your clothing! Bikram yoga is a more strenuous than traditional yoga, so, like aerobic exercise, you may lose weight and tone muscles. You may also find that you can breathe more easily and that your digestion improves.
This ancient form of yoga is the foundation of all yoga styles. Hatha yoga includes poses (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayamas) and meditation (dharana and dhyana). Basic and easy-to-learn, Hatha yoga is slower and less intense than other forms of yoga. It is the commonest form of yoga in the UK. If you find a class that is simply named "yoga", then it is most likely to be Hatha yoga.
Iyengar yoga differs from other forms of yoga as it incorporates equipment. Movement is slow, and you will hold poses for longer than in other forms of yoga. The poses are assisted by the use of props such as blocks, straps and cushions, which help you balance or feel more comfortable. Iyengar yoga is an easy, slow and supportive form of yoga, so can be the best choice for older people or for those recovering from injury or illness.
The aim of Kundalini yoga is to energise you. In addition to poses, breathing exercises and meditation, this form of yoga includes chanting. Kundalini yoga is sometimes called "the yoga of awareness" as there is a focus on intuition, sensory awareness and individual consciousness.
Yoga is an exercise for mind and body. Perseverance pays off.