Yoga is fast becoming “the” fitness trend for workout enthusiasts. By doing yoga on a regular basis, you may be surprised to find that you're building much more than a strong, flexible body. We’ve spoken before about the many benefits of yoga, particularly if done in the morning to stretch your body or at night to ease your mind for sleep. However, it is very important to point out that “yoga” is not just one thing. There are many forms of yoga!
To get started on your individual yoga quest, it's helpful to begin with a list that clearly prioritizes what needs you want to fulfill. Are you looking to sweat your way into a lean form as you sculpt muscles? Does a gentle, meditative approach sound more appealing? Are you trying to ease your mind and clear away the worries of the day? There is a type of yoga for everything, but first you’ll need to find it! Below of some of the most popular:
Ashtanga Are you ready to burn fat and build muscles? The system is based on six series of asanas (poses) which increase in difficulty. You'll be led nonstop through one or more of the series. If you do this in a group class setting, you will be allowed work at your own pace. There's no time for adjustments, and you'll be encouraged to breathe as you move from pose to pose. Be prepared to sweat and feel it the next day!
Power Yoga This type was developed in order to give a Western spin to the practice of Ashtanga Yoga. It is a challenging and disciplined series of poses designed to create heat and energy flow. Bender Birch, who developed it in 1996, said too many people weren’t taking Ashtanga classes because they didn’t understand what it meant. The term “Power Yoga” was easier for Americans to get a grasp on. It is very similar in that it is a rigorous workout that develops strength and flexibility while keeping students on the move. This is the type of yoga that is ideal for a morning workout.
Yoga Nidra Nothing could be further from Power Yoga than Yoga Nidra! Also known as Yogic Sleep, this is a meditation and conscious relaxation practice that is intended to induce total physical, mental, and emotional release. Aside from being relaxing, restorative, and restful, studies have shown that Yoga Nidra can also ease Insomnia, decrease Anxiety, reduce stress,
lessen chronic pain, heighten awareness and focus, transform negative habits, behaviors and ways of thinking, and of course foster feelings of peace, calm, and clarity. This is the ideal type of yoga to do once you crawl on top of your premium mattress for the night as you prepare to sleep.
Jivamukti Remember, practicing yoga for its physical benefits alone would only diminish what this entire practice has to offer as a whole. If you’re looking for a highly meditative but physically challenging form of yoga, try Jivamukti. This type of yoga combines Ashtanga with a variety of ancient and modern spiritual teachings. In addition to this style of asanas, Jivamukti also includes chanting, meditation, readings, music, and affirmations.
Kali Ray TriYoga This type of yoga, often accompanied by music, focuses on natural alignment and breath within the flow, and ends with meditation. The first level is a slow, relaxing, and rejuvenating practice. It gets more advanced to be a series of flowing, dance like movements as you continue forward. This type of yoga is a combination of poses, breathwork, and Mudra (seals). This practice is deeply meditative, promoting relaxation and inner peace.
Integrative Yoga Therapy Not all yoga is done for fitness; it is sometimes done for healing. Integrative Yoga Therapy (IYT) was designed specifically for medical and mainstream wellness settings, including hospitals and other rehabilitation centers. Those who do this type of yoga learn adapted, gentle postures, guided imagery, and breathing techniques. It has been used for treating specific health issues such as heart disease, psychiatric disorders, and AIDS.
Viniyoga Viniyoga is an empowering and transformative practice designed to help address and integrate the emotional, mental, and physical transitions we all experience in life. This type of yoga will be unique for everyone, especially people in different age groups. Children will learn to handle the growth and development of their body and mind. As adults, this practice should keep us healthy. When done by seniors, Viniyoga helps to maintain health and inspire a deeper quest for self-realization.
Bikram Bikram Yoga is done with a series of 26 traditional Hatha postures to address the proper functioning of every bodily system. When you take a Bikram yoga class, expect to sweat. Sweat helps move any and all toxins out of your body. Bikram studios are designed to replicate yoga's original climate, with temperatures pushing 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This is why it is sometimes referred to as “hot yoga.”
This list is a great place to begin, but it is far from exhaustive. Try attending a few different types of classes, and you'll quickly discover the right match to suit your needs. Once you find your perfect match, you’ll enjoy a healthier and happier life. You’ll go to bed sore but proud and wake up ready to do it again!