You’ve heard a lot about the benefits of Yoga to your health and have decided to give it a go. But if your first few sessions will lead to a sustained effort towards making this practice part of your daily ritual, largely depends on whether you were lucky to find the ‘right’ Yoga class to begin with. Yoga can be a little complicated to begin with, and unlike other forms of health and fitness programs where a few weights and a treadmill would suffice. Knowing the ideal form of Yoga for your body and mind may take a few hit and misses.
Over the years the definition of Yoga has changed drastically. And with the ever growing fan base; all with diverse interests, likes and dislikes, goals and priorities. The word Yoga can now mean totally different things to different people. For some it could be a highly meditative experience, for others it could be a physically exerting one. One way to find the right type of yoga for you is to think of why you might have been interested in yoga in the first place. Do you like to sweat it out, or perhaps you are recovering from some form of injury or do you simply like the meditative experience. Yoga offers something for everyone, so here is a quick look at the different styles of Yoga.
Hatha Yoga is a great form of Yoga for everyone. For beginners, this would be a great place to start. A basic Hatha Yoga program will give the foundational for other practices of yoga as it is the core from where most of the styles present in the West came from. Hatha Yoga aligns the body while allowing the energy to flow freely, especially through the spine (the main energy channel of the body). A typical class will often include pranayama (breathing techniques) and meditation as well as asanas (poses). Hatha Yoga though usually gentle and soft, can also be great for experienced practitioners, who will benefit from staying longer in advanced poses while also deepening incredibly powerful practices such as pranayama (breathing practice).
Ashtanga Yoga is a physically challenging form of yoga which links movement to breath in a set series of postures. Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is made up of six series: it starts with primary and intermediate which can be already challenging depending on your background and goes on through four advanced sequences which are quite demanding. Especially the fifth and sixth which involve poses with a series of handstands. Each of the six different series follow a fixed order of poses. Sun Salutations, Standing Poses, Seated Poses and Finishing Sequence. Ashtanga Yoga is great for building up strength, flexibility and stamina. The repeated vinyasas (in a practical term: a combination of three flowing poses: Low Plank, Upward- Dog and Down-Dog) improve upper body strength. Power Yoga and Rocket Yoga are styles which come from Ashtanga Yoga, both being physically demanding but without the set order sequence of Ashtanga.
#Note: Ashtaga Yoga can be challenging on the wrists and shoulders when you are starting out so it’s important to get your alignment right, feel free to always ask for specific cues, and most importantly gradually build up by regular practice.
This is one form of Yoga which you will either love of hate. Bikram Yoga is a set of 26 poses performed over 90 in rooms heated to 105 degrees. This intense form of Yoga is said to help you sweat out toxins and keep flexible. This form of Yoga, though, could lead to overstretching and dehydration, and so is not a favourite amongst more traditional Yogis and Yoginis.
#Note: Check with a doctor before trying Bikram Yoga especially if you have any medical conditions that could make you sensitive to heat.
Iyengar Yoga focuses on experiencing each pose and proper alignment. Like Hatha, Iyengar is an excellent introduction to yoga though it can be more physically challenging than the traditional Hatha. If you’re working with any injuries or physical limitations, well then you’ve come to the right place Iyengar is known to address health issues quite successfully. It can help you gain awareness of your body, dissolve physical or psychological tension or blocks, as hopefully all styles, and explore the mind-body connection.
Yin Yoga is a very slow paced, meditative form of yoga. This style of yoga is a slow practice aimed at releasing muscles, tendons, and connective tissue. In this form of Yoga poses can be held for a long time: in a 90-minute class you may do as few as 4 or 5 poses. Yin Yoga is excellent for increasing flexibility (often targeting specially the joints) and for general physical and emotional health. Its slow pace makes it sound deceptively easy but staying with the pose and keeping the mind calm and steady can be especially challenging for people who usually prefer very active styles of yoga.