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The Different Types of Yoga | Which One is the Best for You?

holistic health yoga May 07, 2021

For those who are new to yoga, it can be hard to know where to begin. There are so many different types of yoga classes and styles that it is difficult to know which one will work best for you.

Many people decide they want to start practicing yoga because they heard about the physical benefits, such as lower stress levels and a greater sense of calmness in their lives.

However, there are also mental benefits that come from practicing yoga as well.

For example, regular meditation or mindfulness techniques can help reduce anxiety and depression while improving focus and concentration during your everyday activities.

The great thing about these yoga practices is that anyone can do them!

No matter what type of yoga class you choose, all the different types of yoga incorporate breath awareness into their routines.

However, this still doesn't answer the question of which yoga practice is best for your lifestyle?

Let's break down the different types of Yoga and describe the benefits and differences!

What is yoga and how does it work

Yoga is an ancient practice that originated in India.

It invokes the mind, body, and spirit into a healthy balance through concentration and meditation poses while progressively stretching ligaments which makes yoga one of the top ways to exercise.

The word "yoga" is a Sanskrit term meaning "unite" or "to yoke."

It is most commonly known for the physical postures, called asanas, and breathing exercises or pranayama used by yoga practitioners worldwide.

The practice of yoga fosters kindness, compassion, patience, and love. Thus, creating a sense of union with all beings in the universe while strengthening one's intuitive understanding of life.

The Different Styles of Yoga

Hatha Yoga 

Hatha yoga is a slow-paced practice that concentrates on physical postures and breathing designed to promote flexibility, strength, balance, and calmness.

Hatha refers to a set of physical exercises and sequences of poses designed to align your skin, muscles, and bones. It will open the various channels through the body so that energy can flow freely. You may choose this style of yoga over other kinds because it's more gentle for beginners or those recovering from an injury.

This style of yoga focuses on postures that you hold for long periods, such as seated poses (asanas) like Padmasana (lotus pose). There's also an emphasis on breathing exercises designed to promote relaxation and balance called pranayama, combined with meditation techniques.

Benefits:

The benefits of Hatha classes include increased flexibility, improved posture, and reduced stress levels.

Why choose it?

Those with chronic back pain may find Hatha yoga to be a better match for their needs than styles that involve more strenuous postures.

Hatha can also help those interested in gaining some weight, losing weight, recovering from an illness or injury, improving mental clarity, and boosting metabolism due to the long duration of specific postures (asanas).

Vinyasa Yoga 

Vinyasa yoga is a type of yoga that focuses on a sequence of poses and is a flow style.

Vinyasa yoga poses are linked together with the breath, creating a seamless physical and mental transformation.

Vinyasa means "gradual progression or systematic arrangement" in Sanskrit, and it's practiced to increase health by bringing focus on the breath while mindfully moving from one pose to the next.

Benefits:

The benefits of practicing vinyasa are many. Benefits include increased blood circulation, improved lung capacity, and stretching muscle groups not typically stretched with other styles.

People also experience mental clarity from the focus on breath and mindful movement.

Why choose it?

Vinyasa is an excellent choice for someone looking to improve their health without being too hard on the body with more strenuous poses.

The series of poses provides infinite possibilities that one never gets bored, which makes these yoga classes popular among yoga practitioners!

Ashtanga Yoga 

Ashtanga yoga is a type of yoga that focuses on postures, breathwork, and meditation.

Some people prefer Ashtanga yoga poses over others due to its physically demanding nature. Practicing Ashtanga will strengthen their body and make them healthier.

However, not everyone is ready for the intensity of the Ashtanga form. People may find that they are better suited to different styles of yoga, such as Vinyasa or Restorative Yoga.

Each person will need to decide on the different types of yoga available, and which will suit them best depending on their goals or needs.

Benefits:

-Builds strength in the practitioner by synchronizing mind and body together.

-Increases focus on the present moment and helps to center one's thoughts.

Why choose it?

Well suited for those who want an intense yoga classes with physicality. This type of yoga may not be well suited if a person has a mental disorder that makes it difficult to focus (i.e., anxiety, depression) OR wants more gentle forms of exercise.

Iyengar Yoga 

Iyengar yoga is a style of yoga that focuses on proper alignment and uses props to help with this.

Iyengar Yoga is practiced by placing blocks or a chair under different parts of your body while holding the pose for an extended period. So you can feel what it's like when every aspect of the body has control over itself.

These types of yoga postures also involves connecting breath and movement, which helps increase concentration, mental clarity, emotional balance, and physical strength.

Iyengar yoga was created to make people more aware of their bodies' positioning during everyday activities and asanas (poses) they do in practice.

Benefits:

The benefits of Iyengar yoga are an increased sense of balance and awareness in your body, less back/neck pain, higher energy levels, and concentration levels, improved blood circulation throughout your entire body, better sleep quality.

Another benefit is that props like blocks can modify different postures, so anyone at any fitness level can do them without the risk of injury. This means beginners don't have to worry about hurting themselves when first starting out!

Why choose it?

Someone may choose this form over another because it's good for people with injuries or difficulty standing on their own two feet. After all, there will be a chair present if they need one.

Bikram or Hot Yoga

Bikram yoga (also known as hot yoga) is a style where the yoga class practices in a room heated to 105 degrees Fahrenheit and 40% humidity.

This yoga practice helps release toxins from deep within the body via sweat glands. The heat also helps loosen up the muscles.

These hot yoga classes are typically done in a sequence of 26 postures, including standing, seated, and breathing exercises with different intensities.

Hot yoga can increase energy levels due to its concentration on body alignment and refresh the mind by focusing on meditation techniques practiced during rest periods throughout the session.

Benefits:

Along with detoxification, this type of yoga has is known to relieve chronic pain, increase circulation, decrease stress levels and improve immune function.

Why choose it?

People who prefer a calmer experience may not enjoy Bikram because it can be pretty stimulating due to the heat and intensity required for these poses.

If you don't mind getting a little sweaty, this style may be perfect for you!

Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini yoga is a form of yoga that is said to awaken the "kundalini energy". Kundalini energy is said to be a river of life-force energy that flows through the body.

It's said to originate at chakra points in the lower spine and move up throughout the body, eventually reaching different parts of the brain where it is believed to help awaken one's 'higher self'.

Kundalini yoga typically consists of physical postures or asanas mixed with breathing exercises and meditation techniques such as chanting, mantra repetition, mudras (symbolic hand gestures), visualizations, and/or kriyas (bodily movements).

The poses increase strength while calming both mind and emotions. And can also be used for detoxification purposes by eliminating toxins from cells.

Benefits:

The benefits are that it revitalizes someone from within; enhances vitality; relieves stress and anxiety, which aids in chronic illness management like depression or diabetes, strengthens immune system response with less susceptibility to cold/flu.

The style has some side effects, though, such as dizziness, nausea, or headaches. Still, these may often go away after the first class if they haven't subsided on their own.

However, those who have high blood pressure, elevated heart rate, or any other medical condition should consult their doctor before starting the class.

Why choose it?

Kundalini is suitable for those looking to find balance in life and want a deeper experience of spirituality and an increased level of self-awareness.

Kundalini was very popular during the 1970s when many people sought spiritual enlightenment but have since then decreased in popularity after earning a bad reputation because some people claimed they were going crazy from practicing Kundalini.

So practice at your own risk!

Yin Yoga

Yin yoga is a more passive form of yoga with a heavy focus on holding poses for an extended period of time.

Yin is different from other styles of yoga because the primary focus is not on moving, but rather holding one pose.

Benefits:

The benefits of this yoga practice are rooted in its ability to stretch and release tight muscles that would otherwise be untouched by more active forms like Hatha or Vinyasa yoga.

It's also great for beginners who have trouble balancing with movement, as they're less likely to fall during poses since their movements are limited.

The practice can help those suffering from insomnia or anxiety issues find relief. It makes you feel physically at peace through slow breathing and meditation exercises.

Why choose it?

It's great for people with limited mobility or flexibility due to injury. Older aged people often enjoy Yin because its slow pace allows them to safely access different parts of their body without risking losing balance.

Those who have insomnia should also consider this type of practice. Holding certain positions helps regulate breathing and reduce stress levels, leading to improved sleep quality over time.

Anusara Yoga

Anusara yoga is a modern form of Hatha. In Sanskrit, the word "Anusara" means following your heart and going with the flow.

The principles of this style are based on the idea that we can create a life worth living through practicing self-acceptance and spreading joy.

Anusara yoga combines gentle, flowing postures with long holds to stretch your muscles.

Benefits:

 

It can help to regulate the nervous system, release pent-up emotions and stress, calm an overactive mind due to its gentle nature.

Anusara yoga also helps with muscle stiffness from sitting for long periods. In addition, it may relieve chronic back pain because it releases tension in the spine.

Why choose it?

Anusara yoga is a slow and gentle form of Hatha. It's best for beginners, pregnant women who need to rest during their pregnancy, or those with injuries.

This style of yoga also promotes doing what you love without worry about any external expectations from society. Therefore, this philosophy can help people towards stress relief.

Sivananda Yoga

Sivananda yoga is a form of yoga that is more therapeutic. Developed by Swami Sivananda, its main focus is on restoring balance to all aspects of one's life - physical, emotional/mental, and spiritual. This practice can be done either alone or in a group class setting.

The primary goal behind practicing Sivananda Yoga is self-realization through meditation while seated in Padmasana (Lotus Pose). It helps create harmony between body and mind, so students become mentally calm as well as physically relaxed.

Benefits:

Some benefits include healthier metabolism; greater mental clarity; reduced fatigue; better breathing ability due to an increase in oxygen levels throughout the lungs, not just during exhalation; and more energy

Yoga can help you (or your child) with issues such as asthma, anxiety, depression, IBS, and chronic pain.

Why choose it?

If you are looking for a holistic approach to your yoga class or suffer from chronic pain, this might be the correct type of yoga class for you.

Power Yoga

Power yoga is a form of yoga that is practiced faster and has more powerful movements. It focuses on increasing the heart rate, building muscle mass, improving posture, strengthening core muscles and flexibility through its poses.

Power yoga is good for those who want to improve their muscle strength, build lean muscles and increase flexibility.

Benefits:

  • Build muscle mass
  • Improve posture
  • Strengthen core muscles and flexibility.
  • Builds cardiovascular strength

Why choose it?

Power yoga is suitable for improving muscle strength, building lean muscles, and increasing flexibility. It's different from other types of yoga styles. It focuses more on building up your physical stamina so you can perform at higher intensities than other types of yoga. 

Restorative Yoga

Restorative Yoga focuses on relaxation and stress relief.

It typically does not include any physical poses. Instead, it focuses on stretching the muscles in a relaxed environment with the use of props like blankets to support you and blocks or bolsters to help keep your spine straight during different stretches.

Restorative Yoga is an excellent form of exercise for those with chronic pain or stiff joints, as gentle movement and reduced pressure relieve tension.

This yoga style also provides self-reflection by slowing down the breath, which reduces blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension and triggers hormones that promote feelings of well-being.

Benefits:

There are many benefits to practicing Restorative Yoga: increased circulation, reduced anxiety and depression, improved sleep, increased energy levels, and reduced aches, pains, stiffness, or discomfort.

It is also a great way to learn how to release muscle tension without the risk of injury since it does not demand any movement from your joints.

Why choose it?

Restorative Yoga is an excellent choice for someone who wants to take an active approach to heal from pain and injuries. It's also suitable for anyone recovering from surgery, illness, or chronic medical conditions like diabetes.

Jivamukti Yoga

Jivamukti Yoga is a demanding style of Yoga. Beginners might not want to start with Jivamukti. Still, it can be an excellent way for people who are very experienced in yoga practice to challenge themselves.

It's also popular among ashtanga yogis and Bikram yogis because they're looking for a more intense workout.

Benefits:

The style of Yoga is known to be therapeutic and strong. The poses are physically challenging, but they have a calming effect on the body and mind.

Why choose it?

Jivamukti yoga is a Vinyasa style, meaning it mixes different types of poses. It also incorporates postures from Hatha Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga. This makes for an incredibly dynamic practice that will make the individual working out feel energized rather than drained after the workout session ends.

Bamboo Fusion

Bamboo Fusion is the blending of Tai Chi and Yoga. 

Yoga and Tai Chi are complimentary. Yoga tends to stretch the body to all extents but stays pretty confined. In contrast, Tai Chi generally keeps the body within certain spatial boundaries while moving through space.

Benefits:

  • Increased flexibility and range of motion
  • improved balance
  • massages internal organs
  • increases calmness and awareness
  • builds strength. 

Why choose it?

Bamboo Fusion is great for participants of all levels. 

If you are athletic and looking for something more calm to break up your current workout routine, this would be a perfect choice. 

It can also help someone that is just getting into working out as it can build strength and balance and be a great segway into other formats of exercise.

Conclusion

 There are many different types of Yoga styles. Hopefully, now that you understand the differences between the many types of Yoga you will have more confidence moving forward and choosing a yoga class that is right for you!

 

 

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