Everyone says that yoga is a great form of exercise. It helps you to center your thoughts, to calm your nerves and to exercise your body. Once you start searching for a class in your area you will probably notice something – there are multiple types of yoga. So which one is the best yoga practice for you?
Benefits of Yoga
The array of yoga options might seem scary but it’s really not. It’s a good idea to incorporate a variety of types of yoga into your regular practice to stay balanced and motivated. Yoga offers a wide range of benefits including
- Increasing your body’s
- Increasing your body’s muscle
strength and tone.
- Boosting your energy level.
- Maintaining a balanced metabolism.
- Facilitating easier weight loss.
- Contributing to cardio and
- improving athletic endeavors.
- improving studies and
- Helping promote better sleep
- Detoxifying your body.
- Helping you heal in case of
There are many different kinds of yoga. Most styles of yoga are based on the similar basic yoga poses. Each participant needs to ascertain the issues on which s/he wishes to focus. Based on that assessment it will be possible to decide which type of yoga is suitable for each individual person.
Yoga instructors generally suggest that each person try a few different styles of yoga before deciding which type of yoga fits their needs and expectations. It’s advisable to try each type of yoga for a few classes, rather than just one. That gives you a better overview of which yoga style is the right one.
The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word yuj, which means “to yoke” or “to bind.” When speaking about yoga it’s generally assumed to refer to a method of discipline. Males who practice yoga are called “yogi” while female practitioners are called “yogini.”
According to tradition, an Indian sage, Patanjali, collated the practice of yoga into one centralized “Yoga Sutra” approximately 200 years ago. The Sutra involves 195 statements that serve as the practice’s philosophical guidebook.
Yoga is generally divided into eight “limbs” or disciplines
- Yamas (restraints)
- Niyamas (observances)
- Pra nayama (breathing)
- Dhyani (meditation)
- Dharana (concentration)
- Asana (postures)
- Pratyahara (withdrawal of senses
- Samadhi (absorption)
Through exploration of these limbs, yoga practitioners learn to focus inwardly until they reach Samadhi (enlightenment and liberation).
Much of today’s yoga focuses on asana which involves physical postures that are designed to purify the body and provide stamina and physical strength required for long periods of meditation.
Types of Yoga
Some of the yoga disciplines most widely practiced today include:
Hatha Yoga classes are generally the slowest classes and are the most popular among beginners. Each pose is held for a few breath’s time. Hatha is regarded as a “gentle” form of yoga that is meant to balance the body with the mind.
Vinyasa Yoga is a more energetic form of yoga. Practitioners engage in poses that link movement and breath to create a dance-like sequence. The pace in these classes is quicker and the movements are often done to the sound of pump music as the participants match the beats to the sequences of the poses.
Doing Iyengar Yoga involves attention to precision and detail. Participants are meant to make sure that their body is properly aligned in each pose. Iyengar yoga involves props including blankets, straps, ropes, walls and yoga blocks. Each pose is held for a period of time so it’s a good idea to take this type of yoga slowly and build up your stamina and strength before moving forward.
Ashtanga Yoga is like playing a free slots games in that it’s challenging yet orderly. Ashtanga yoga involves six series of sequenced yoga poses that allow practitioners to breath and flow through each pose. The goal of Ashtanga yoga is to build internal heat. Every class is comprised of the exact same poses that are done in the exact same order. In Mysore Astanga Yoga classes the participants perform the poses on their own while in other classes a teacher calls out the poses in sequence. This strict form of yoga is great for people who prefer to do their yoga poses individually.
There are 26 poses in Bikram yoga that are done in conjunction with two breathing exercises. The 90 minute Bikram yoga sequence is done in a temperature and humidity controlled room that is designed to produce a feeling of strenuous effort. Not for people who don’t like to sweat.
Like Bikram yoga, Hot Yoga is practiced in a heated room. The difference is the poses – Hot Yoga gives you more leeway in our poses than does Bikram yoga.
Kundalini yoga is one of the most physically challenging and mentally stimulating forms of yoga. Participants in a Kundalini yoga class perform kriyas which are repetitive physical exercises that are meant to be performed in conjunction with breathing exercises. Kundalini yoga practitioners focus on breaking through their internal barriers and releasing untapped energy that resides within to elevate the participant to a higher level of self-awareness. Kundalini yoga emphasizes the internal aspects of yoga including meditation and spiritual energy through breathing.
The goal of Yin Yoga is to help practitioners find their zen through balancing their mind and body. Each Yin yoga pose is held for several minutes at a time and targets fascia and connective tissues for better meditation. Yin yoga involves props so that the body can release into the posture instead of actively engaging or flexing the muscles.
Restorative yoga is the most mellow form of yoga. The small moving class aims to give the body a chance to tap into the parasympathetic nervous system for deeper relaxation. Props for Restorative yoga include bolsters, yoga blocks and blankets that help the participant support the body in each pose.