With so many names, schools, and lineages of Yoga today it can be overwhelming to learn about or find the right yoga for you. After all, perhaps you’re simply looking to start doing some ‘yoga‘ and see where it takes you. Or maybe you’ve been practicing yoga for years, yet now there’s way more styles than you recall when you first started.
Here we have listed 8 popular styles of Yoga to give you a broad overview of what types of yoga people are doing.
Hatha is a broad term used to refer to a yoga practice done with the physical body. It is not actually a “style”. Hatha yoga emphasizes the importance of meditation, combined with postures, breathwork, energy locks, dietary selection, or other external means to increase awareness and understanding for achieving harmony in the seemingly dualistic aspects of mind and body.
Many of Hatha Yogas base moves are used in other classes and were originally developed as part of this practice. Expect a gentle routine that’s attainable for those who are just dipping their toes into the yoga world.
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Vinyasa Yoga is said to be the most popular practice across the globe. This style of asana (physical posture) practice focuses on breath-synchronized movements. Each posture links breath with specific body movements, creating a flowing meditation with each inhale and exhale. This style can be very fluid, and is often labeled Flow Yoga or Vinyasa Flow. Sequences may be creatively designed with no fixed sequence, and a different theme for each class.
This style is inspirational to both the body and the mind with its fluid, almost dance like style that links breath and movement. It can help promote strength, endurance, flexibility and sensitivity and lead to a sense of joy, peace, and clarity.
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Ashtanga Yoga is a method of yoga which involves synchronizing the breath with a progressive series of postures. It is not so good for beginners because of its more vigorous style which produces intense internal heat and a profuse, purifying sweat that detoxifies muscles and organs. This results in improved circulation, a light and strong body, and a calm mind.
So this yoga is characterized by fitness & sweat, increased flexibility, and more strength and balance. It helps with flow and is good for Mind and spirituality. The ultimate purpose of the Ashtanga practice is purification of the body and mind.
Yin Yoga is based on the Taoist concept of yin and yang, the pairs of opposites. Yin is the stable, unmoving aspect of things; yang is the changing, moving aspect. Examples of this are like cold-hot, down-up, calm-excited. A Yin yoga class usually consists of a series of long-held, passive floor poses that mainly work the lower part of the body—the hips, pelvis, inner thighs, lower spine. These areas are especially rich in connective tissues. The poses are held for up to five minutes, sometimes longer. In the body, the relatively stiff connective tissues (tendons, ligaments, fascia) are yin, while the more mobile and pliable muscles and blood are yang.
A Yin Yoga practice can help reduces stress and anxiety, increase circulation, improve joint mobility and flexibility and release fascia. It can also calm and balance the mind and body.
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Bikram Yoga is a system of yoga designed and trademarked by Bikram Choudhury. The poses are taken from traditional hatha yoga techniques and introduced to the West during the 1970s.
It is performed in a room heated to 105° with 40 percent humidity (to simulate the environment in yoga’s home country of India), Bikram aims to boost the meditation factor by repeating the same 26-pose routine each class. This format skips flowing sequences for steady holds that allow you to deepen the stretch. Bikram is good for the circulation.
This term usually refers to a class taught in a heated room for a number of benefits – encourages sweating for detoxification, increased heart rate for a more challenging aerobic practice, warmth to prevent muscular injuries, relieves stress and joint aches or arthritic pain. Hot yoga might sometimes refer to non-authorized classes which teach a set sequence similar to trademarked “Bikram Yoga”.
Hot Yoga used to always refer to Bikram Yoga but several others have emerged like Power Yoga. Hot Yoga is good to train the mind and to improve circulation to the joints.
Power Yoga focuses on a fitness based Vinyasa styling. It uses heat as a form of Hot Yoga. This offers the benefits of both Ashtanga and Vinyasa, including the building of internal heat, increase of stamina and flexibility, as well as reducing the body’s stress. It moves quicker and brings more sweat than with traditional Vinyasa. The class is usually more personalized by teachers, for they will design their own sequence of postures. Students use this time to synchronize their breathing and movements.
Iyengar Yoga is taught in the tradition of B.K.S. Iyengar, who has developed an innovative approach to classical hatha yoga. Iyengar yoga emphasizes alignment while developing strength, stamina, flexibility and balance.
This method of yoga emphsizes precise anatomical details and the alignment of each posture. Iyengar Yoga can be modified and made accessible for anyone. This slow and steady style is designed to systematically cultivate strength, stability and awareness and can be therapeutic for some conditions.
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