Yoga seems to be growing immensely in popularity. Everywhere I look I find aspiring yogis. I suppose this has to do with its amazing physical and mental benefits. Yoga encompasses many important aspects of balanced fitness, such as strength, flexibility, relaxation, and perhaps most importantly, inner fortitude. Yoga is a practice of constantly challenging both the mind and the body. As I have taken an interest in yoga myself I have been getting a lot of questions from women asking where to begin with yoga.
The first and most important step in beginning a yoga practice is determining which type of yoga is right for you. Yoga is such a personal and individualized practice that is not a one-size-fits-all. The type of yoga I perform may not be right for someone else, and vice versa. It’s all about your interests, your goals, and your personal style. Here I will discuss six common forms of yoga. It is my hope with this post that you will be able to find your inner yogi!
The term hatha yoga refers to a few different styles of yoga that are combined to create a simple class that teaches the basic poses. Although this form of yoga can differ, in general it is a gentle, slow-paced class that combines poses with breathing techniques. Hatha yoga is great for beginners but keep in mind that you may have to try out a few different classes to find one that suits your pace.
This gentle form of yoga is slow-paced and very detail-oriented, really emphasizing proper alignment in order to strengthen the muscles while protecting the joints. These classes often use props like yoga blocks and straps in order to help the practitioner get into the poses. For these reasons, lyengar yoga is another great style for beginners who want to learn proper technique, as well as people who suffer from pain. However, if you are experiencing pain due to some type of neck, back or other injury, you should always consult with a physician before taking up any form of physical activity, including yoga. This class is often quite long, between 90 minutes to two hours, and includes standing, seated and twisting asanas (poses) as well as inversions like shoulder stands and backbends. Don’t let the inversions scare you away! They provide many benefits to the physical body and your teacher will always help you to modify and work your way up.
A very soft form of yoga that is more about the emotional experience, rather than the physical one. Classes include a mix of meditation, breathing techniques, chanting, and yoga poses. Kundalini yoga is great for those who are looking to gain the relaxation benefits of yoga.
Also known as hot yoga, this is a more challenging type of yoga where you do a sequence of 26 poses in a very hot room that is above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius). Hot yoga is great for those wanting to increase flexibility, as the heat tends to loosen up the muscles, which in turn increases one’s ability to stretch further.
Also known as power yoga this type of westernized yoga is somewhat like hatha in that it contains a mix of different yoga styles, but is more fast-paced. This is a very athletic and challenging form of yoga and is great for those who are ready to move at a faster pace and those who want to lose weight. Power yoga is based on the sequence of poses in the ashtanga yoga series which we will get to next. This yoga class will include vinyasa’s (sequences of continuous movement), standing and seated asanas, and even some inversions.
This is probably the most physically demanding of all yoga forms. Ashtanga includes a non-stop series of vinyasa’s and asanas combined with a breathing technique to connect the mind and body. This style of yoga is deeply rooted in tradition and is practiced the same way every-time with the practitioner mastering poses one at a time as they are physically able. This form of yoga is great for those who are relatively experienced in yoga as well as those who like structure and challenge.