Yoga can be an invigorating, stress-relieving form of exercise that offers a multitude of physical and psychological benefits. With so many types, it can be hard to distinguish between them. Our list of the top health benefits of yoga offers an explanation on each type of yoga benefits and how to choose the yoga practice that suits you:
- Ashtanga: derived from ancient yoga teachings, this is a sequence-style of yoga that links each movement to a breath. Rigorous in practice, ashtanga performs poses in a specific order, nonstop. The breathing technique in ashtanga is designed to center the mind and control breath flow throughout the body while enhancing flexibility and strength.
- Bikram/Hot Yoga: both heated up in rooms 95-100 degrees, these types of yoga will certainly get you sweaty and challenged. Bikram takes you through a series of 26 poses, while hot yoga may be more varied up. The heat aids in flexibility and detoxification – classes are popular and vastly expanding!
- Hatha: any type of yoga that teaches poses can be classified as hatha, providing you with an introduction to the basic postures and movements. You choose the pace and style according to where you’re at. Any class deemed “hatha” is a great starting point for new yogis.
- Kundalini: with a spiritual and philosophical approach, kundalini will enhance your mind and body awareness. Energy flow is directed towards the poses while meditation, breathing techniques, and chanting are incorporated to keep you grounded.
- Kripalu: gentle in nature, kripalu focuses on self-empowerment in a three-part practice. Making kripalu a regular part of your routine will put you in touch with your body as you allow it to teach you, leading you to self-discovery.
- Iyengar/Anusara: featuring various props (bolsters, blankets, straps, and blocks), Iyengar is a meticulous style of yoga focused on nailing the correct alignment in each pose. Be prepared to maintain form- the pace is slow and poses are often held for a minute or longer. For a more light-hearted version, try Anusara. Fast-growing and friendly to beginners, its classes are upbeat and accepting to those out-of-shape.
- Restorative: soothing and relaxing, restorative yoga will rejuvenate you more than a nap or night on the couch. With as few as five poses in one class, this class is ideal for injury or stress rehab. Head to the studio for restorative yoga (“yin”) next time you need a psychological cleanse.
- Vinyasa: similar to ashtanga and hatha, vinyasa centralizes poses around the sun salutation while maintaining a synchronized breath matched to 12 poses. Friendly to beginners and advanced yogis, vinyasa will strengthen your core and create connection between movement and breath. Look forward to the final relaxation pose, savasana, at the end of each class.
- Power Yoga: taking you from one pose to the next, power yoga recruits every muscle in the body, revving up your metabolism and resulting in higher calorie burn. Although it is deemed the most athletic yoga style, power yoga is tough even for athletes. You may also hear it referred to as “vinyasa flow” due to its fluidity in movement.
- Prenatal: perfect for moms-to-be, this practice improves posture, core strength, and breathing technique while relieving pregnancy pain. It is a safe and smart form of exercise to stay in shape while expecting, and a wonderful opportunity to share parenting tips!
Other popular yoga practices not mentioned include sivananda, jivamukti, and viniyoga – there are many others out there. You can’t go wrong with yoga – any style is sure to reap benefits!
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