Did you know there are more than a dozen styles of yoga? Practicing any style of yoga will help improve your balance, strength, and flexibility, relieve tension in your body and quiet your mind. It’s important to pick a style that compliments your fitness level and overall goals of your practice.
Yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices that originated in ancient India. There is a wide variety of yoga schools, practices, and goals in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. While the term “yoga” in the western world often refers to a modern form of Hatha Yoga, consisting largely of postures called asanas, there are many varieties. Read about the different yoga styles to find one that fits your goals.
Ashtanga is a dynamic, physically demanding practice focussed on synchronizing breath and movement to produce an internal heat to purify the body. Ashtanga yoga is great for building core strength and toning the body. Prepare to sweat as you briskly move through a set sequence.
Hatha is the most beginner friendly style of yoga. It is relatively slow paced, with postures being held for longer. Hatha yoga focuses mainly on proper alignment of basic postures, meditation, and focussed breathing.
Vinyasa was originally adapted from Ashtanga yoga but is a fusion of a few different styles. It is often fast-paced and energetic, though classes can vary widely depending on the teacher. Beginners are recommended to take Hatha classes first to learn the proper alignment of the postures (asanas).
Kundalini Yoga can cultivate self-awareness and spiritual connection. The focus is on dynamic breathwork and can involve chanting, mantras, and meditation. Kundalini yoga is good for those who are after more than just a stretch or a workout, as it focuses on the inner spiritual growth of the student by concentrating on Kundalini energy in the spine. It can help students cultivate compassion and raise consciousness.
Bhakti Yoga has also been called the yoga of devotion. It is a more spiritual style of yoga that involves surrendering to the divine or universal consciousness. Some Bhakti yogis may worship a specific deity, while others focus on the divine in everything. Bhakti Yoga often includes chanting, mantras, prayer, and kirtan as part of their practice.
Bikram Yoga is also known as hot yoga. The yoga studio is generally set to 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40.55 degrees Celsius) and 40% humidity. The heat promotes flexibility and also helps to detoxify the body. Each session consists of a 90-minute sequence of the same 26 poses, making it great for beginners.
Yin Yoga is a slow-paced practice that involves holding poses for 3 to 5 minutes. Props are often used to help to stay in the poses, as they can be deceptively difficult to hold for minutes at a time. Yin poses apply moderate stress to the connective tissues of the body with the aim of increasing circulation in the joints and improving flexibility. Its goals are awareness of inner silence and recognizing a universal, interconnecting quality.
Power Yoga describes a fast pace fitness-oriented style of yoga created in the West. It is based on Astanga and Vinyasa styles, though it focuses more on fast movement between postures than proper alignment. It enhances stamina, flexibility, posture, mental focus and relieves tension. Practicing Power Yoga requires a level of moderate fitness as it can be a vigorous workout. Power Yoga burns more calories than most traditional forms of yoga and can help with weight loss.