You’ve made the big decision to work on your physical fitness and you want to start practicing yoga. But do you know what type of yoga person you are? It all depends on the way you would like to feel and the results that you are after. Knowing which type is most beneficial for you will take some research.
Translated from Sanskrit, the word “yoga” means “yoke” or “union,” bringing together your mind and body with the goal of feeling balanced or in-tune with your external surroundings. In reviewing yoga class descriptions, you will find several different practice types. The term “Hatha” is often used when describing most yoga practices. It can even be used instead of the word “yoga,” as they have a very similar meaning, but it is commonly used when describing a beginner or basic yoga class. It is often thought of as a mellower form of yoga. If you
consider yourself a yoga novice, Hatha classes might be perfect for you.
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Let it Flow
One of the most popular types is “Vinyasa,” which encourages you to focus on your breathing as you hold different poses. Each pose is linked directly to one another, making the movements come together like one stream or “flow.” Those who practice vinyasa yoga often refer to the practice as a type of meditative dance that one can feel themselves going through. Vinyasa is good for those looking for an exercise that has a rhythm or pace to it and one that increases their heart rate. Ashtanga, or “eight limbed” yoga is a popular type of Vinyasa, though it is often done without music or direction, in meditative silence. Ashtanga involves slower, more precise poses and is considered to be a more physically demanding version of Vinyasa, where
consistent movement is the focus.
Those who like to exercise and learn lots of detailed information about their poses have probably heard of a yogi from India named B.K.S. Iyengar. He made this slower style of practice, often using weights or blankets popular enough for it to be called Iyengar yoga today.
Another type of yoga is Yin or Taoist yoga. It focuses on allowing the body to get comfortable while working on unwinding the mind and passively lengthening muscles. “Passive” stretching is the key idea with Yin yoga, as it is considered the direct opposite of other popular types, where the muscles are active. Those who have trouble taking time for themselves and need to stretch and relax would benefit from Yin yoga.
Bikram or hot yoga are two different kinds of the practice, but since both involve sweating, warm muscles and high temperatures, they are often considered the same. Bikram yoga is based on a strict set of 26 different poses and Bikram classes are typically 90 minutes long to fit all of the sequences. While Bikram is done in a heated space just like hot yoga, the latter can have
multiple poses that are not predetermined. Both are recommended for those who like to sweat, while Bikram is geared toward yogis who like a set, predictable routine.
If you are looking for an exercise that also includes a spiritual and meditation component, you may want to try Kundalini yoga. The qualities of Kundalini go far back to ancient India and were brought to the West in 1969, combining chants with postures and dynamic breathing methods. The word “Kundalini” is defined as untapped energy that lives at the base of one’s spine. Through this type of yoga and the seven chakras that it involves, practitioners focus on moving this energy upward and bringing it to life, which is where its spiritual aspect shines. Seeking self-awareness and deep breath work? Kundalini might be your answer.
Take a Breather
Restorative yoga is another mellow type of practice, where poses and technique move very slowly. Props such as blankets are often used to help those in the class get comfortable and feel centered. It is said to be helpful for those who have difficulty relaxing, who may have anxiety and for those who suffer with insomnia.
There are many other types of yoga that you can research to see if it matches your needs. Depending on who you are and what you are looking for from your yoga practice, rest assured that there is a type that will work for you.