Different Types of Yoga: Which is Right For You?
People new to the practice may not realize that there are several different types of yoga. It can be beneficial to try a few different styles of yoga and see which feels good to you. Finding the right yoga practice is necessary so that it becomes a long-term part of your life. Some of the physical and emotional benefits of yoga include:
- Decreased stress
- Relieved anxiety
- Reduced insomnia
- Improved flexibility and posture
- Increased muscle strength
- Overall improved happiness and health.
If you’re considering trying yoga, use the following guidelines to understand which type of yoga may be right for you!
Think of Vinyasa yoga like continuous dancing. This type of yoga links sequences of movement to your inhales and exhales building from a slow to fast pace throughout the class. The continuous movement of Vinyasa yoga is great for anyone already exercising regularly and wants to complement other workouts with something different. This type of yoga is best if you enjoy the rhythm and fluidity of dancing or want to add an additional form of workout to your routine.
Unlike Vinyasa, Hatha yoga moves at a traditionally slower pace, holding each pose for several breaths at a time. This form of yoga has an intentional focus on getting the foundational poses right. If you’re beginning your yoga practice, Hatha is a gentle place to start. This type of yoga is best if you want to meditate or connect to your body.
While Hatha and Vinyasa classes vary depending on the studio and instructor, Bikram yoga offers the same class every time. The class is 90 minutes in a 105-degrees room following a series of 26 poses and two breathing exercises. Most practicers of Bikram yoga enjoy the cleansing feeling of sweating, despite the strenuous activity. If you decide to try Bikram, bring at least 16oz of water to stay hydrated and prepare to drench your clothes and mat in sweat! Choose this type of yoga if you want to detox your body while strengthening your core.
If you’re looking for hot yoga, there are plenty of options available outside of Bikram. Hot yoga is practiced in a heated room to enable deeper movement into some poses (compared to a non-heated class). Classes range from beginner to advanced level, so check with your studio and grab a sweat towel! Choose this type of yoga if you want to help loosen your muscles and sweat out toxins.
If you have flexibility issues or are recovering from an injury, Iyengar yoga is a great first step back into exercise. These classes move slowly with a heavy emphasis on the use of props, similar to restorative yoga. Typically Iyengar yoga instructors are aware of poses to help accommodate healing injuries, but remember to consult your doctor before engaging in any physical activity during injury rehabilitation. Choose this type of yoga to help with mobility in your body due to stiffness or pre-existing injuries.
If you’re looking for a way to unwind or relax, restorative yoga classes are the perfect fit for your yoga journey. The classes are slower-paced and unheated; restorative yoga helps you do exactly what the name of this type of yoga suggests: rest and restore. In many cases, teachers will provide common props, such as blankets, bolsters, and blocks to offer additional support. This type of yoga is a great way to recover and quiet the mind after a stressful day.
Potentially the most meditative of all the yoga styles, yin yoga is best known for its zen-like characteristics. Unlike fast-moving yoga like Vinyasa, Yin poses are held for several minutes at a time with a focus on deepening the stretch. It’s common to feel antsy at the beginning of yin poses before embracing the healing powers of the long-held postures and the meditative classes. Choose this type of yoga if you want to help increase mobility and regulate the flow of energy within the body.
As you begin to explore the many styles of yoga and discover which works best for you, remember to listen to what your body needs. You may find yourself frustrated if you aren’t very flexible or can’t hold poses for very long. Be patient, keep practicing, and before long you’ll experience the benefits yoga has to offer!