Yoga is one of the most popular physical practices around the world and there are legions of followers who swear by it. The benefits of yoga are also widely documented and you can expect to improve your strength, flexibility, and balance with regular practice. Yoga also helps release stress, calm your thoughts, and help you relax. There is a wide variety of yoga disciplines to choose from. However, it can get a bit confusing if you are a beginner and don’t know your Kundalini from your Iyengar! Well, the rule of thumb is to choose a style that matches your current fitness level and your personality. Knowing what you hope to achieve from your yoga practice will also help you focus on the style that is best for you. First determine your intention: do you want to do yoga to improve your health? decrease stress; increase mindfulness; gain strength; to lose weight or relieve pain? Once you have the answer to this question, you will know which practice is right for you. Take a look at these 14 different types of yoga styles and their benefits, you know more about them.
Hatha yoga is a comprehensive term that includes all kinds of yoga based on physical practice. This therefore includes styles like Ashtanga and Iyengar but not Kriya, Raja or Karma yoga which are not based on the practice of physical yoga. Hatha yoga is best if you are new to it because the pace is much slower than other styles. The practice involves having to hold a Hatha class pose for a few breaths and a lot of focus on meditation and correct breathing and postures. You will also learn some essential relaxation techniques.
Founded by BKS Iyengar, this form of yoga is ideal for those who wish to work on injuries and joint issues. It focuses on correct body alignment and very precise movements. These postures are held by holding your breath and the duration of each pose increases with expertise. The perfect pose is achieved with the help of accessories such as traps, blocks and covers. This practice greatly improves stability, mobility, strength and flexibility.
Kundalini yoga is one of those mysterious yoga practices that are as spiritual as they are physical. This form is physically demanding and mentally stimulating and involves a lot of meditation, chanting, mudras, and breathing exercises. The purpose of this style is to release the energy of the kundalini which is coiled in the lower spine. You need to do a lot of quick postures with periods of relaxation where you will learn to pay attention to internal sensations and the flow of creative energy so that you can tap into your kundalini-shakti. This style is for those who are looking for more than a workout.
Popularized by celebrities around the world, Ashtanga or the âEight Limbs Pathâ is very physically demanding, so you shouldn’t do this if you are a beginner or if you are not in great physical shape. This involves doing several surynamaskars followed by standing and floor postures. There are six sets of postures that should be repeated in each class. This type of yoga is also called Power Yoga and in this style you start with the primary series and then move on to the next level when you have mastered it. It takes years of practice to master this form.
This is an offshoot of Ashtanga and also involves a number of athletic yoga postures and each movement is coordinated with the breath. It is also a very physically demanding practice. The pace is fast and you won’t have to hold a pose for too long. The key is to switch between poses so that your heart rate increases. Ashtanga and Vinyasa are great if your goal is to tone your body. It also works the core and upper body and gives you a cardio workout. This practice has no defined structure and often depends on the teacher which can include meditation and chanting.
Created by yoga guru Bikram Choudhury, the main feature of this practice is to do a series of poses in a room heated to 41 degrees centigrade and 40 percent humidity. In a 90-minute sequence, there are 26 basic postures that are performed twice and two breathing exercises. The heat causes you to sweat excessively, ridding your body of toxins while the postures work every part of your body and bring oxygenated blood to all of your internal organs. Drink plenty of fluids to rehydrate yourself.
The style of hot yoga is very similar to that of Bikram yoga. Here, too, the postures are held in a heated room, however, this is not limited to the sequence of 26 poses. If you like a sweaty workout, this is the one for you.
If you are looking for spirituality through yoga, you should explore Kripalu yoga. The focus of the practice is less on hectic asanas but on self-reflection, pranayama, deep relaxation, and meditation. The goal is to de-stress the mind and body for better health and better self-knowledge. Less rigid than the other practices, this one requires you to modify the poses according to the needs of your body.
Yoga is not just a workout but a deeply spiritual experience and if you want to know this practice in its entirety you should try the Jivamukti style. Founded in 1984 by Sharon Ganon and David Life, Jivamukti incorporates Vinyasa-style postures and sequences accompanied by chanting, meditation, deep relaxation and pranayama. Emphasis is also placed on philosophy, poetry and music. Jivamukti centers also offer courses in Hindu scriptures, Sanskrit and Kirtans. Jivamukti supporters should also be vegetarians.
If you are not into too hectic an activity, then Yin Yoga is the practice for you. This slow-paced style allows you to hold poses for longer, from 45 seconds to two minutes. There is also a lot of sitting postures and an emphasis on spirituality, inner peace and relaxation. By holding the poses longer, you stretch your connective tissue and make it more elastic. You also improve blood circulation and qi energy in your body. Accessories help you relax in postures instead of keeping your muscles flexed and tense. This style is often performed in a heated room to help your muscles become more elastic. You shouldn’t try this if you are super flexible (since you can injure yourself if you stretch too much) or have connective tissue disease.
If you have a stressful job, this yoga practice is for you. As the name suggests, restorative yoga postures are meant to relax and rejuvenate. Most of the classic yoga poses have been changed to make them easier to do and more relaxing. This practice helps you harness your parasympathetic nervous system so that you can truly relax your mind and body deeply. Like Iyengar yoga, this style also uses accessories like blankets, bolsters, and yoga blocks to help you perfect each yoga pose without tiring you out too much. If you suffer from insomnia, anxiety, or stress-related illnesses, you should definitely try restorative yoga.
Prenatal yoga is a workout that pregnant moms can safely do without endangering the fetus. It is specially designed for pregnant women every trimester. This type of yoga works the pelvic floor muscles and teaches you breathing exercises that make labor and delivery easier.
In this version of Hatha yoga, Anusara yoga has postures that are used in a Vinyasa practice and here too the focus is on alignment. However, in Anusara the mind-body-heart connection is essential and you will be encouraged to uplift yourself, to find inner peace and the “light within you”. This style uses accessories to help you achieve the perfect pose.
Weird Yoga Trends
A favorite of pet owners, it involves doing yoga with their dogs. There are stretching, massages and, believe it or not, meditation, with the doggies!
Want to jump a goat on its back when doing yoga? Well, that’s exactly what this practice introduced by Oregon yoga teacher Lainey Morse entails. The point is to make you feel happy and loved as these goats cuddle up to you!
Only for people who are extremely confident in their body, nagna yoga or vivastra yoga, as it is called in Sanskrit, involves doing naked asanas. It is about letting go of self-awareness and accepting the imperfections of the body.
Can it get better than that? Drink your favorite beer and lose your beer belly while doing yoga. Created by a German group called âBierYogaâ (Beer Yoga) in Germany, it lets you strike your favorite pose with your favorite pint.
Invented by Christopher Harrison, an aerial artist, former gymnast and Broadway choreographer, this challenging type of yoga also involves other techniques like aerial acrobatics, Swedish gymnastics, and Pilates.
Cannabis yoga / Ganjasana:
If there was a match made in heaven, this is it. Invented by a group in Colorado, smoking while doing yoga will give you a more spiritual experience and increase the effects of meditation.
If you are not interested in all of the types of yoga that we have listed above, you can try some of these weird yoga practices listed here. Don’t blame us for the consequences!