September is National Yoga Month and most yoga studios are offering free yoga classes. In the spirit of this national observance, we’re saying “om” and diving deeper into the different types of yoga. Any type of yoga can benefit your physical and mental health by developing strength, balance, and flexibility. But to get the most benefits and satisfaction from yoga, you’ll need to find a yoga style that suits you best.
Here, we will explain eight of the most popular types of yoga to help you find a practice that works best for you.
Hatha means force. With Hatha yoga, you’re getting down to the basics. This practice is the foundation for most forms of yoga by combining asana (poses), pranayama (breathing), and meditation. The different poses help the prana (energy) flow naturally throughout the body to increase strength and flexibility. Most classes are slower paced and are great for beginners.
The term ashtanga means “eight limbs” which refers to an ancient yoga practice. The eight limbs serve as a philosophy on how to live a meaningful life. Modern-day Ashtanga follows a sequence of poses that coordinate movement and breathing. Each sequence increases in difficulty and involves standing and seated poses, backbends, and inversions. This is an intense form of yoga that revolves around repetition. This makes it a great option for beginners and advanced yogis who are looking for a set routine, but also enjoy a challenge.
Vinyasa means “to place in a special way.” This type of yoga emphasizes fast and continuous flow from one pose to the next. Like Ashtanga, Vinyasa yoga coordinates synchronized movement and breath, but each class has its own unique movements and postures, so no classes are alike. This style is a great way to learn proper breathing techniques while also testing physical limits.
This disciple of yoga was founded by Bikram Choudhury, a gold medalist olympic weightlifter. Bikram yoga involves an unchanging sequence of 26 poses in a room that is heated to 105 degrees with 40% humidity. The increased temperature is believed to help with blood circulation, detoxification, and flexibility.
Like Bikram, hot yoga is done in a heated room with the humidity ramped up. The difference is that hot yoga gives instructors more flexibility in choosing their own postures and creating their own atmosphere. Every hot yoga class is different because this style isn’t restricted to a specific routine and you are able to learn more postures. Since some may find the same, repeating postures of Bikram to be too monotonous, hot yoga is a great alternative.
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This form of yoga was created by B.K.S. Iyengar. Iyengar yoga focuses on balance, flexibility, and strength though precise body alignment. Most of the classes involve props (blankets, blocks, straps, etc.) to help with alignment and correct positioning in each pose. The props reduce the risk of injury and makes it easier for students to develop their postures correctly.
Restorative yoga encourages relaxation and re-energizing the mind, body, and spirit. Similar to Iyengar, poses are typically done with props to provide support for different positions. This slow-moving style of yoga is great for everyone, regardless of age, gender, and experience level.
Kundalini means “coiled snake.” Kundalini yoga is more spiritual than the other yoga styles. This yoga practice focuses on releasing Kundalini energy, at the base of the spine and moving it throughout the body by coordinating dynamic postures, breathing techniques, chanting, and meditation.
Currently, over 36 million people practice yoga and for good reason. Yoga can provide great benefits regardless of age, fitness level, or physical ability. With so many different styles of yoga available, you’re bound to find the perfect fit.
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