What started in ancient India has now become one of the most popular forms of exercise today. Yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual “practice” whose followers swear by its healing effects. And while its introduction to the Western World has resulted in some changes from its original intent, there is no escaping the fact that it has made its mark in the fitness world.
By now, you have probably seen classes and studios promoting different types of yoga. And if you are not well-versed in the yoga world, it could be a bit confusing as to what all the different names mean. Here are some of the more popular forms, so you can decide for yourself which one is right for you:
Hatha yoga is a good beginner level class. It’s also the most common form of practice. You can expect to go through a series of poses while utilizing breathing techniques as you move from one pose to another. Hatha yoga is designed to develop flexibility and improve balance. The end of a Hatha yoga class includes a Shavasana—a short period of time where you lie down on the floor while letting your mind and body completely relax.
Vinyasa yoga, or power yoga as it is sometimes called, moves at a much quicker pace than other practices. While you are still working on increasing flexibility and balance, you will also be increasing strength as you quickly move from one position to another. Expect lunging, bending and even doing some poses while upside down like shoulder stands and headstands. Vinyasa yoga will also increase your heart rate since you will be moving quicker.
Iyengar yoga has a completely different focus than other traditional practices in that proper body alignment is the goal. Straps and blocks are often used to help you get into the poses which include standing, sitting and twisting. Iyengar yoga classes tend to run longer than others—usually, 90 to 120 minutes—but is said to help anyone who might be suffering from chronic neck pain.
Bikram yoga has only been around since the 1970s, but it’s one of the most popular forms practiced today. You may know it better as “hot yoga” where you practice in a heated room (usually above 100 degrees Fahrenheit). The heat loosens up your muscles which helps increase your flexibility and allows you to move more easily. Classes usually run about 90 minutes and include twenty-six varying poses along with breathing work.
Kundalini brings you to the more spiritual side of yoga. It was developed as a way to energize your body and calm your mind through movements, breathing and chanting. You can expect half of a Kundalini yoga class to consist of exercises while the remaining half is a combination of breathing, meditation, and relaxation.
Ashtanga yoga is for the more advanced yoga-goer. Classes run 90-120 minutes and can consist of at least seventy different poses. Ashtanga is much more physically demanding than other types and requires a lot of endurance and strength.
The Bottom Line
If you are a bit intimidated to try a class, FitOn gives you the opportunity to try yoga on your own – and it’s completely free! Choose a level and style that suits you and go at your own pace. Remember, yoga is a relaxing practice so stressing about it will only defeat its purpose.