The practice of yoga can transform your body and mind. But there are many different types of yoga, and it can be challenging to understand which particular style is right for your needs. Yoga poses called “Asanas” are the foundation of most forms of yoga. However, the practices and benefits of one style can be completely different from another. To make it easier for you to get started on your yoga journey, we’ve outlined the characteristics of the most popular forms of yoga below.
Possibly the most popular and beginner-friendly form of the practice is Hatha yoga. This type of yoga focuses on mastering the physical body. Meditation, breathing and basic postures are all cultivated as part of a traditional Hatha yoga class. The poses are executed in an unhurried manner and are meant to deliver holistic benefits. It is an excellent entry point to the practice if you’re new to yoga.
Flowing movements are at the core of this type of yoga. It is a vigorous style that involves rapid shifts through sun salutations. A key aspect of Vinyasa yoga is synchronizing poses with the breath. Vinyasa classes are also referred to as flow classes because of the continuous transitions from one posture to the next.
One of the more physically demanding forms of yoga is Ashtanga yoga. “Ashtanga” is a Sanskrit term that translates to “eight limbs” named after the eight branches of the practice. It is based on the teachings of sage Patanjali and is more suitable for experienced practitioners. Type A personalities who aim for perfection may find this style of yoga ideal.
Power Yoga was developed as a way to make the practice more accessible to students all over the world. It involves an energetic Vinyasa style practice. Initially, it closely resembled Ashtanga but has evolved over the years. Rather than a set series of poses, instructors have the freedom to develop customized routines. If you’re looking for an intense workout that will make you sweat, this is the type of yoga for you.
Founded by B.K.S Iyengar, this type of yoga is centered on precise, detailed movements. In a class, students focus on alignment and breath while executing a series of postures. Each pose is held for a long time, and props are used to perfect form. This type of yoga is excellent when recovering from injuries or for people who enjoy working methodically.
In Yin Yoga, the focus of the practice is on balance and poses are held for longer. It is quite slow paced but can be challenging because of the long hold times. The aim is to apply moderate stress to the tendons and ligaments to increase circulation and improve flexibility. If you’re new to Yoga, Yin is a good option as beginner friendly classes are offered.
The purpose of Kundalini Yoga is to help people reach their maximum creative potential and free themselves from the actions of their past. A Kundalini yoga session is a combination of physical and mental work and will leave you feeling alive and invigorated. It is excellent for people who are looking for more than fitness and want to awaken their yogic spirit.
Pioneered by Bikram Choudhury, Bikram yoga has immense cleansing and detoxification benefits. Classes are taught in a heated room with temperatures between 95 and 100 degrees. This leads to profuse sweating, loosens tight muscles and builds resilience.
Sivananda yoga is a type of practice based on five principles: diet, exercise, positive thinking, breathing, and relaxation. It was brought to the U.S in 1957 by Swami Vishnudevananda. The five tenets work together to help the practitioner lead a healthy, fulfilled life.
Anusara yoga is a relatively newer style developed by prolific American yogi John Friend. Apart from the physical benefits of the practice, the goal of Anusara yoga is to allow a person’s inner goodness shine through. It is based on the belief that we are all intrinsically good and can use the physical practice of yoga to bring out our best selves. The classes are suitable for both beginners and expert yogis.
Viniyoga is a gentle practice that involves focusing on the way the breath moves through the body and affects various postures. The emphasis is on deepening each pose rather than doing it precisely. This style of yoga is ideal for people who want to build their flexibility and is suitable for beginners.
The practice of Restorative yoga uses deep breathing techniques and restful poses to combat the effects of our stressful lifestyles. It can bring relief from ailments like backaches, headaches, insomnia, and anxiety. Each session is all about rejuvenating the body by letting go.
There are many different types of yoga, and each style will open you up to a unique way of connecting with its ancient wisdom. Through some trial and error, you can find a practice that suits your lifestyle and needs. No matter what style you choose, you are likely to start noticing improvements in many aspects of your health.
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