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What Type Of Yoga Is Best For You

Yoga mat and accessories with names of different types of yoga written

Yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India. The practice entails low-impact physical activity, postures (called asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), relaxation, and meditation. One may be drawn to Yoga as a way to keep fit, but the idea behind the physical practice of Yoga is to encourage a deeper mind-body synchronization or harmony. No matter what type of Yoga you choose to practice, you will likely see improvements in many areas of your health. By practising Yoga regularly you can:

• Improve your circulatory and cardio health and detoxify your organs.

• Increase your flexibility.

• Increase muscle tone and strength, thereby reducing injuries and Improve your posture.

• Increase your energy levels.

• Get help with anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and sleep.

Selecting a particular type of Yoga can be daunting if you don’t know what each style incorporates. It will also depend upon your intent to practice Yoga: whether you want more of a spiritual experience, or more of a work-out,  or want to work on your alignment and so on. You don’t necessarily have to always stick to just one style if you are practising at home. You can switch between styles, based upon your needs and wishes. If you are taking a  studio/ virtual class, you could ask your teacher about which style/styles she teaches and decide accordingly. To help with this task, I have put down some well-known types of Yoga which originated in India and some modern styles that are currently trending. You could try attending a few different types of classes, and you’ll quickly discover the right match to suit your needs.

Hatha Yoga

The Sanskrit term “Hatha” is an umbrella term for all physical postures of Yoga. Hatha classes today are a classic approach to breathing and exercise. The goal of Hatha Yoga is to relax and prepare your body and mind for other spiritual practices like meditation. Most Yoga that is taught in the West is Hatha Yoga. Hatha Yoga can vary a lot from teacher to teacher but in general, it starts slowly and each pose is held for a longer period of time. If you are brand-new to Yoga, this type of Yoga is a great entry point for you.

Vinyasa Yoga

“Vinyasa” means “to place in a special way” and, in this case, Yoga postures. It is a style of Yoga characterized by stringing postures together so that you move from one to another, seamlessly, along with the synchronized breath. It is often considered the most athletic yoga style and is also called “Flow”. Vinyasa was adapted from Ashtanga Yoga in the 1980s. Many types of Yoga can also be considered Vinyasa flows such as Ashtanga and Power yoga.
In contemporary Yoga parlance, Vinyasa stands in opposition to Hatha. Hatha classes tend to focus on one pose at a time with rest in between. In contrast, Vinyasa classes string poses together to make a sequence. The constant flow of poses often helps students be mindful and focus on the practice instead of letting their thoughts wander. Though Vinyasa classes may vary greatly in terms of difficulty and speed, it would be advisable to have some experience in Yoga before attempting Vinyasa, firstly because it is a continuous flow of asanas without any rest and secondly, the breath has to be synchronized along with the body movement which may be slightly difficult for first-timers.

Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga Yoga is a type of Yoga as exercise created by K. Pattabhi Jois during the 20th century, often promoted as a modern-day form of classical Indian Yoga. It is a highly structured Vinyasa style. The same poses are always performed in the exact same order and each pose gets progressively more difficult. This dynamic, physically demanding practise synchronizes breath and movement to produce an internal heat designed to purify the body. This style may not be a good choice for beginners, as a certain level of expertise is required to perform the sequences.

Iyengar Yoga

Iyengar yoga was started by B.K.S. Iyengar who has become one of the most famous Yoga gurus in modern times. It is a form of Yoga that has an emphasis on detail, precision, and alignment in the performance of Yoga postures. Poses are often held for a longer duration in this style. This style relies heavily on props that enable beginning students, the elderly, or those with physical limitations to perform the asanas correctly, minimizing the risk of injury or strain. Iyengar Yoga is detail-oriented and slow-paced and is a good choice for beginners.

Iyengar Yoga with blocks

Sivananda Yoga

Sivananda Yoga was created by Swami Sivananda and is a type of Hatha Yoga. Sivananda Yoga classes often begin with a relaxation pose followed by sun salutations and then the class goes through Sivananda’s 12 postures. Chanting and meditation form an integral part of this style. Sivananda Yoga focuses on five fundamental points of yoga: proper exercise, proper breathing, proper relaxation, proper diet, and positive thinking and meditation. Sivananda Yoga is more of a philosophy and a spiritual experience than just Yoga.

Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini, defined in Hindu lore as the energy that lies dormant at the base of the spine until it is activated (as by the practice of yoga) and channelled upward through the chakras in the process of spiritual awakening. It derives its name through a focus on awakening kundalini energy through the regular practice of mantra, tantra, yantra, Yoga, or meditation. Kundalini Yoga is often identified as the most dangerous form of Yoga because of the involvement of the awakening of energies.

The above-mentioned styles are traditional Indian styles, but this is not an all-inclusive list. Yogis in modern times have come up with many more styles like Restorative Yoga, Yin Yoga, Bikram Yoga, Hot Yoga, Power Yoga, etc. Some of the well-known styles are:

Restorative Yoga

Restorative Yoga is the practice of asanas, each held for longer than in conventional classes, to relax the body. A restorative yoga sequence typically involves only five or six poses, supported by props that allow you to completely relax and rest. Restorative poses include light twists, seated forward folds, and gentle backbends. This style is ideal for people who suffer from constant fatigue or illnesses, have anxiety or restlessness, or for anyone who is looking for relaxation, rejuvenation, or healing. This type of Yoga uses props, such as blankets, straps, pillows, blocks, bolster, etc., to support the body, which will allow you to hold poses longer. This eliminates unnecessary straining. Restorative Yoga is definitely one of the most therapeutic forms of Yoga.

Restorative Yoga

Yin Yoga

Yin Yoga is a slow-paced type of Yoga, incorporating principles of traditional Chinese medicine. The asanas are held for longer periods of time, between 2 to 5 minutes. Yin Yoga targets deep connective tissues, like fascia, ligaments, joints, and bones. This style may not be good for beginners because they may not be able to hold the poses for such long periods of time without feeling pain or discomfort, which may arise from stretching the tissues for a long time.

There are many variations of Yoga styles being practised these days, but the above-mentioned ones are the most common. Different styles offer variety and appeal to different audiences, based on what a person is looking for. The purpose of traditional Yoga used to be gradually moving away from the external, sensory and transient world to focus the energy on the internal or spiritual truth, but in today’s times, most Yoga practices are not designed for any kind of spiritual awakening, yet we can definitely practice them to achieve an inner sense of calm along with physical fitness. That can happen if we learn to surrender our intellect, the thinking mind and move deeper into our self-awareness. Thus, incorporating Yoga practise into your routine can bring about a change in not only your physical health but also mental health. Still thinking about it? Just grab the mat and get going.

If you have been wanting to start Yoga practise at home but are not sure about what things to keep in mind before starting your practice, or how to go about it, you can read my blog post – Yoga: Tips And Aids To Start Your Home Practice.

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1 thought on “What Type Of Yoga Is Best For You”

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