Yoga is a combination of disciplines that originated in India. It incorporates a group of mental, physical, and spiritual disciplines into a physical application.
There are many different styles of yoga and each can benefit you in different ways.
Finding the right style to fit your needs can be difficult. There are some that are more beneficial for toning, balance, or flexibility, while others highlight weight loss, spirituality, or focus.
It can be overwhelming sorting through all the different types of yoga and trying to figure out what to try. It may even be good to try a variety and choose what you most enjoy. In this post, the 9 most popular forms of yoga will be explained in order to help you figure out which style or styles best suit you and your health goals.
This type of yoga has a main focus on your body’s anatomy and alignment. Prop work including yoga blocks and blankets could be of some use in this style of yoga. Typically, this type of yoga is very precise and detail-oriented so instructors tend to explain how different poses impact each bone and muscle group. If you are unfamiliar with the typical poses in Iyengar yoga, it is best to start with the beginner level classes.
This is the best type of yoga to try if you are just starting out. Hatha is the basics of yoga at a slower moving pace. Each pose is held for a couple of breaths while you focus on your physical posture. Since this type of yoga is considered more gentle, it is great for beginners who want a relaxing introduction to yoga.
If you like to have the same routine, then Bikram is the best type of yoga for you. It is a specific set of 26 poses and 2 breathing exercises. After doing it a few times, you will know exactly what to do when you roll out your mat. The poses are practiced in the same 90-minute sequence each time so it is considered to be a very predictable type of yoga. The room is heated at around 105 degrees with at least 40% humidity so be prepared to sweat. This yoga can be very strenuous, especially because of the heat, so make sure to rest if needed and stay hydrated.
This type of yoga can be great for weight loss because it is fast-paced. If you like high-intensity interval training, this may be an enjoyable style to try. It involves linking breath and movement together in a continuous series of poses that don’t last long. Vinyasa can be very dance-like and most teachers will often play fast music that matches the pace of the poses.
The main goal of restorative yoga is to slow down and relax. These poses are held for long periods of time in slow transitions in order to tap into your body’s nervous system and help you fall into deep relaxation. Props such as blocks will likely be used to help support parts of your body during certain poses. You may feel as though you aren’t doing much but it can be great for anxiety, stress, and athletes who are on their exercise recovery days.
If you like challenging routines with strict guidelines, then Ashtanga may be your perfect yoga style. Each class will consist of the same specifically sequenced poses in a series of six. Through each pose, you will match your breath and movement to create a flow that is great for toning while feeling some internal burning. Some classes have instructors that talk out the poses while others involve you going through the sequences independently, only asking for guidance if needed.
This practice looks very different from other types of yoga. It is more of a spiritual yoga involving coupled breaths with repetitive physical exercises. Also, chanting, singing and meditating are important parts of this yoga type. Kundalini’s goal is to bring you to a higher level of self-awareness while releasing buried energy within you.
Similar to the practice of Bikram, hot yoga is done in a heated and humid room. The main difference between the two is that hot yoga isn’t attached to the same 26-pose sequence and has the ability to incorporate more poses in a variety of ways. The heat helps you feel like you can move deeper into each pose which can result in overstretching if you aren’t careful. This class will leave you very sweaty and can be more challenging so make sure to start out at a beginner level class.
If you want a calming experience to find your “zen” and stretch out your muscles, try Yin yoga. It is a meditative practice with a focus on deeper connective tissues. You will mostly allow your body to release into the posture instead of engaging with the pose. This will allow elasticity and length to be restored while also balancing your mind and body.
If you have been practicing yoga for a while you probably are already noticing its health benefits such as better sleep, getting less sick, less stressed and increased strength and flexibility.
Those are the benefits you have to look forward to if you begin a yoga routine and stick with it consistently. Science is beginning to understand how yoga works to improve your health, heal aches and pains and destress your mind and body.
Give it a try. You may find yourself feeling stronger and better than you have with other exercise routines.