Practicing yoga is one of the best ways to stay fit and healthy.
In can be used to improve your strength, flexibility, and balance while simultaneously promoting a sense of calmness and wellbeing.
If you are new to yoga, you will soon discover that there are many different styles of yoga to choose from.
Some styles are focused on building strength and are guaranteed to help you work up a sweat, while others are more focussed on relaxation and spiritualism.
Choosing the right style will help you obtain as much benefit as possible from your yoga practice.
In this post, I’ll identify the most common forms of yoga and provide the information you need to choose a style that is ideal for your goals.
Popular Types Of Yoga
Hatha yoga is focussed on building physical and mental strength using the postures described in the three texts of Hinduism.
The term “Hatha Yoga” was originally used to describe the physical aspects of yoga.
However, it is now used whenever several yoga styles are combined.
Although its practice can be varied, it always includes postures (asanas), breathing patterns (pranayama) and meditation (dyana).
The duration and difficulty of hatha yoga classes varies greatly as instructors often tailor classes to suit participants of different skill levels.
A beginner’s Hatha Yoga class is widely considered to be the best place to start with yoga practice because it teaches students many poses and isn’t overly strenuous.
This form of yoga places a focus on awakening kundalini energy in the body through a combination of yoga, meditation, tantra, yantra, and mantra.
It is influenced by the Shaktismand Tantra schools of Hinduism which suggest that energy can be freed and moved throughout the body in an effort to improve physical and spiritual health.
It is a more philosophical approach to yoga that involves a lot of meditation, chanting, yoga poses, and breathing techniques.
This is a type of ‘hot yoga’ (designed to be practiced in a hot environment) created by Bikram Choudhury from traditional hatha yoga techniques.
It first became very popular in the 1970’s and is now widely practiced throughout the west.
Bikram Yoga classes usually run for about 90 minutes and use a series of 26 postures.
It is practiced in rooms that are 35–42 °C (95–108 °F) with a humidity of 40% to encourage participants to sweat.
It is a very challenging way to practice yoga as classes are long and usually involve some difficult poses.
Vinyasa Yoga, also known as power yoga, uses a fast transition between yoga poses combined with breathing techniques.
It is a form of ‘yoga as exercise’ that is very common in the west.
There are several forms of Vinyasa including Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, Power Yoga, Jivamukti Yoga, Vinyasa Flow Yoga, Power Vinyasa Yoga, Baptiste Yoga, and Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga.
The difficulty of Vinyasa Yoga will vary based on the instructor, but it is typically very physically demanding, requiring strength, flexibility, and stamina.
Ashtanga (eight limbs of yoga)
Ashtanga yoga was created by the Hindu sage Patanjali and defined in his Yoga Sutras.
Patanjali defined the eight limbs as pranayama (breath control), pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), dharana (concentration), yama (abstinences), niyama (observances), asana (yoga postures), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (absorption).
It is a challenging form of yoga that involves a nonstop series of poses and a special breathing technique that focuses the mind.
Yin Yoga is a meditative practice based on Taoist traditions.
It uses passive postures that target the connective tissue in the joints.
Participants move slowly between poses and each pose can be held for several minutes.
It is a very useful form of yoga for releasing joint and muscle tension.
This form of Hatha Yoga was developed by B.K.S. lyengar.
Its main principle is that there is a correct way for every pose.
To help participants achieve correct joint alignment when performing poses, they can use props including harnesses, blocks, and straps.
This form of yoga also places an emphasis on connecting asanas in a specific order.
It is a great option for both the beginner and advanced yoga practitioners who want to perform asanas with perfect alignment.
This is a form of power yoga developed by Canadian yogi Michael DeCorte.
Unlike most other forms of yoga, it focuses on building strength and endurance as opposed to flexibility.
It uses powerful movements and postures that will test the strength of your muscles.
Jock Yoga is paired with contemporary music to make the session energetic and motivational.
If you are interested in a more relaxing form of yoga practice or you are recovering from an injury, consider restorative yoga.
It focuses on healing the mind and body using simple restorative poses that are held for long periods.
It often incorporates props including straps and pillows to ensure poses are performed in a comfortable way.
Developed in 1984 by David Life and Sharon Gannon, Jivamukti Yoga is one of the more recent styles of yoga.
It is a Vinyasa-style yoga practice that includes music, scripture readings, and chanting.
It is useful for anyone interested in applying the philosophy of yoga to their daily life.
Which Type Of Yoga Is Right For You?
“I am new to yoga and just learning the ropes”
If you are trying yoga for the first time, you should opt for a style with a slower pace.
Hatha is a popular starting point because it combines a range of poses with breathing exercises and meditation.
Essentially, it gives you a sense of what yoga is all about.
Other great options for beginners are Lyengar Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, and Yin Yoga.
“I am quite fit and am looking for a tough workout”
Someone who is already very fit could take on the more intensive forms of yoga like Bikram Yoga, Jock Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga.
They are guaranteed to help you work up a sweat!
“I am dealing with a painful musculoskeletal condition”
If you are suffering from joint or muscle pain, you should opt for a less-intensive styles of yoga.
Your best options will be Restorative Yoga, Yin Yoga, Lyengar Yoga, or a restorative Hatha Yoga class.
“I just want to build strength and don’t want to meditate”
The best forms of yoga for people who want to build strength are Jock Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Bikram Yoga, and other types of power yoga.
These yoga variants will help you achieve a sculpted and muscular body surprisingly quickly.
“I really want to incorporate spiritualism in my yoga practice”
Several forms of yoga incorporate a lot of meditation, self-reflection, and prayer to help participants achieve spiritual enlightenment.
If you want to use yoga in this way, consider Kundalini Yoga or Jivamukti Yoga.
I hope you found this article informative.
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