What’s Your Yoga Style?: The 5 Most Popular

Here we are again with another post about yoga.  As I mentioned to you the other day, there is a type of yoga for everyone.  You might not be in great shape right now, and you’re looking for something a little easier.  Or you could be just the opposite, perhaps you feel like doing a more energetic practice.  You might be looking to work the mental more than the physical, or maybe you just want to improve your practice.  There are as many options as physical fitness levels, moods, or personalities, so you decide!

Group of people doing yoga exercise (focus on woman in the middlThe 5 most popular styles of yoga

Here we’re going to talk about what the most common types of yoga are.  By common, I mean those that are most often shared in yoga centers.

  1. Hatha, the most popular

This is known as the “posture yoga”.  It might be the most widespread type of yoga because most yoga studios and gyms offer it.  It works primarily with the body with postures (asanas) which are coordinated with deep breathing that is slow and deliberate.  But hatha is much more than just that.  The body is simply an instruemnt to be “tuned” in order to reach hatha’s true goal: health, both physical and mental, as well as spiritual.

This is often times recommended for beginners and for older individuals, or people that are out of shape.  It is an easier paced practice to follow, and the level of difficulty will vary depending on the instructor.

2. Ashtanga, the dynamic yoga

This style of yoga, like Hatha yoga, is based on physical exercise to control and calm the mind.  Ashtanga vinyasa is a more fluid style and the asanas practiced here are virtually the same as those in Hatha.  They are performed quickly without pauses between each posture, so if you’re out of shape, this may be a little difficult for you.

Beginners are recommended to start with Mysore classes, because each person learns according to his/her own pace.  The asana sequence, the breathing technique, and movements from one posture to another are all individual.  Although these classes are not guided and are perhaps a little more impersonal, each student can practice on his/her own and there is always a professor to help whenever necessary.

3. Iyengar, the yoga of correction

Iyengar yoga is a branch of Ashtanga which focuses on precise technique in executing the asanas (as well as the time one stays in each posture).  Attention to correct bodily alignment and the use of supports (wooden blocks, belts, etc.), are focused on here.  Everything is done so that the individual does not adapt to the posture, but rather that the posture is adapted for the individual.

Even though this work is intense, it is perfect for beginners for focusing on a deep understanding of each asana.  At first you might be surprised by the number of details that the professor talks about, but this will guarantee that you do the postures correctly, and you’ll experience all of the benefits.

4. Kundalini, the yoga of consciousness

This type of yoga is named after Kundalini energy (or life energy).  This energy resides at the base of the spinal columb and needs to flow smoothly.  Lots of postures are used to facilitate the movement of this energy by working the spinal columb.

Kundalini classes are different from other styles of yoga.  Each class will go through a kriya (a series of asanas) that work different internal organs.  Another different aspect is that of meditation, which is an important part of the practice.  It is performed with the chanting of mantras (words in sanscrit).  This aspect might be the biggest change at first, if you’ve practiced other styles of yoga, but you don’t have to chant if you don’t want to.

This type of yoga is easy to follow, which makes it perfect for anyone.

5. Bikram, hot yoga

This style of yoga is one of the newest.  It was created in the first part of the ’70s and aims to work the entire body through a series of dynamic postures that are performed in a room set to 40 degrees Celcius and 45% humidity.  This promotes muscular relaxation and increases flexibility.  If you choose this type of yoga, you can’t forget to listen to your body at all times.  At first the heat may feel like too much, so stay well hydrated.

We do not recommend that people with cardiovascular disease, or pregnant women, engage in this type of yoga.

As you can see, they all have the same objective: joining body, mind and spirit.  The different lies in some cases, in the intensity of the practice, or the way the practice is performed.  I recommend that you try different types, and go deeper into each style so that you can discover which style of yoga is best for you.  If you’re just starting, always ask for beginner’s classes.  A lot of studios offer classes specifically for beginners.  And of course, if you have any sort of illness or injury, ask your doctor before you begin.

Have a great week!

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