Yoga is designed to connect your mind with your body and spirit through breathing techniques, meditation and health-promoting postures (asanas).
Not only does practicing yoga tone your body and refresh your mind, it also improves your immune system, helps lower your stress level, and provides so many more health benefits.
Types of Yoga
Today, aside from having an abundance of yoga studios, there are many different styles of yoga to consider. Even though they’re all based on the same poses, each style has a particular focus. For example, one style has a purpose to improve flexibility, while another style primarily strengthens your core. So let’s take a look at the different types of Yoga along with their benefits and who would suit each type.
Hatha Yoga- In Sanskrit (an ancient classical language of India) “Ha” means “sun” and “tha” means “moon”. This type of Yoga is relatively slow paced, gentle type of Yoga and is a good place to start if you are completely new to Yoga and don’t know any of the asanas (poses). Like all types of Yoga, Hatha Yoga aims to unite the mind, body and spirit.
- Purpose: To introduce beginners to yoga with basic poses and relaxation techniques
- Benefits: Relieves stress, provides physical exercise, and improves breathing
- Good for: Beginners and people wanting to learn the basics of yoga
Ashtanga Yoga –In Sanskrit it means “eight limbs”. It’s a fast moving, intense style of Yoga practice and is based on a progressive set sequence of asanas, synchronized with the breath. Ashtanga Yoga can be quite physically demanding as you constantly move from one asana in the sequence to the next, so you’ll find that it will improve your stamina as well as your flexibility and strength.
- Purpose: To help improve one’s spiritual self
- Benefits: Relieves stress, improves coordination, and helps with weight loss
- Good for: Fit people looking to maintain strength and stamina, and those who want to get in touch with their spiritual side
Iyengar Yoga – This type of Yoga concentrates on the correct alignment and form of the body. Unlike Ashtanga Yoga, there is an emphasis on holding each pose for a long period of time rather than moving constantly from one pose to the next. Iyengar Yoga uses props such as blocks and straps to help align the body into the different poses.
- Purpose: To strengthen and bring the body into alignment
- Benefits: Helps improve balance, speeds up recovery from an injury, and builds up body strength
- Good for: Beginners who want to learn the correct alignments in each pose and those with injuries, balance issues, and chronic medical conditions like arthritis
Vinyasa Yoga – Much like Hatha, Vinyasa covers basic poses and breath-synchronized movement. This variety of Hatha yoga emphasizes on the Sun Salutation, a series of 12 poses where movement is matched to the breath.
- Purpose: To link the breath with movement and to build lean muscle mass throughout the body
- Benefits: Helps improve strength and flexibility, tones the abdominal muscles, and reduces the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes
- Good for: Beginners and advanced yogis alike seeking to strengthen their bodies
Bikram Yoga – Also known as hot yoga, Bikram is practiced in a 38 degree room. It’s typically a series of 26 poses that allows for a loosening of tight muscles and sweating.
- Purpose: To flush out toxins and to deeply stretch the muscles
- Benefits: Speeds up recovery from an injury, enhances flexibility, and cleanses the body
- Good for: Beginners and advanced yogis alike who want to push themselves and those with physical injuries
These are only a few of the many styles of yoga. Try one or all of them to figure out which one suits your needs the best.