There’s more than one type of yoga. In fact, the number of postures, poses, and exercises associated with yoga is astounding. And what they all have in common is that they might be able to help you relax your mind and support strength, flexibility, and overall wellness.
Now, each form of yoga has its own technique and the potential to provide powerful health benefits. So here’s a brief look at some of the more popular forms of yoga.
Yoga Basics: Yoga Postures, Deep Breathing Exercises, And Meditation
Yoga may seem to be a current fad, but many of the different kinds of yoga have been around for thousands of years. They all help relieve stress and increase focus. They also help with building muscles and weight loss.
The purpose of this meditative discipline is to meld the body, spirit, and mind. In fact, that’s actually the meaning of the word “yoga” in the Sanskrit language. Yoga helps people connect with their spirituality. It can also help increase their fitness in the process.1
When you practice yoga, you use different poses, also known as asanas. Many of these poses, or postures, can be mastered by even beginners. Many others, however, are challenging – even for experts. While yoga can provide health benefits, don’t try any asana without your doctor’s approval.
You’ll find yoga classes in many different locations. There’s a very good chance you’ll find a teacher at your local gymnasium, yoga studio or community center. More than likely, you can find a local yoga instructor who provides private lessons as well.
One of the most important aspects of yoga is breathing.
One of the most important yoga breathing techniques is known as pranayama breathing. Its focus is to ensure breath goes through your nostrils while performing yoga poses.
Proponents of this breathing technique believe it helps reduce stress and anxiety. It calms the mind while helping you improve attentiveness and focus. But the health benefits may go even deeper. Proponents also believe pranayama breathing can help support the immune system. They belive this helps protect you against many types of potentially serious illnesses.2
Types Of Yoga: Restorative, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Kundalini, And More
There are scores of different branches of yoga. Again, all practices are designed to help build strength while improving balance. With each movement, you clear your mind and go into a meditative state. Here are a few types of yoga, along with their benefits to both the body and mind.
As the name implies, restorative yoga helps the body wind down and replenish itself. You basically turn yourself off in a manner of speaking. This is meant to not only help your mind and body rest, but also to keep you balanced.
Restorative yoga involves several different poses. These poses encourage taking a deep breath to help with relaxation. It can be practiced either on its own or as part of a yoga class. If you are feeling tired or burned out at work, an evening restorative yoga practice could help restore your mind and body and get you ready for the next day.3
This is a more modern form of yoga that was introduced by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in the 20th century.
Practitioners synchronize their breathing with several different poses. But even though it calms the mind, it also provides a strenuous workout.
Ashtanga yoga will make you work up a significant sweat – but that’s part of the design of the practice. The sweat is meant to help rid the body of toxins, cleansing the muscles as well as your internal organs. This practice may increase strength and support good circulation.4
If you’ve ever heard the term “vinyasa flow,” it pertains to this form of yoga. Practitioners flow smoothly between the different poses associated with vinyasa.5
There are a lot of benefits associated with vinyasa. It’s a challenging form of yoga that will take you to your physical limits. At the same time, however, it helps you keep focus with each breath while transitioning from pose to pose. It also provides an excellent workout for the cardiovascular system.
While vinyasa is a challenge, it is also good for beginners. It is an excellent way to learn the breathing techniques required of this and other types of yoga.6
Kundalini is a mixture of movement, breathing, and mantras, or calming phrases. Kundalini poses aim to increase strength in different areas of the body. But it can also help calm the mind. Kundalini can help reduce restlessness, and stress.7
Another popular form of yoga yin yoga, helps with extended meditation. Practitioners sit for longer periods of time. This helps stretch the tissues around joints such as the pelvis and knees. You usually hold each pose for between three to five minutes.8
There are plenty of health benefits associated with yin yoga as well. It can help increase your range of motion. This can deteriorate as you get older due to poor posture and injuries.
By holding yin yoga poses, you help increase flexibility. You also make it easier for nutrients to get to your muscles and joints.
This type of yoga has often been compared to receiving a deep tissue massage.9
This is another form of yoga that is perfect for a beginner. As you progress through the form, however, it gets more challenging. Relaxation at all times is key to performing Ananda yoga correctly.
Ananda yoga helps increase flexibility, much like other kinds of yoga. It also helps increase awareness of your environment and reduce stress.10
This form of yoga is named after its founder, B.K.S. Iyengar. Iyengar’s teachings emphasized a deep understanding of his students’ body types. He knew how difficult it was for beginners to relax and control breathing.
Ivengar tailored his approach for Westerners unfamiliar with yoga. He was among the first teachers to use “props,” such as blankets and chairs. These props not only help cultivate stability and strength, but also flexibility.11
Bikram yoga is named after Bikram Choudhury. He brought this type of yoga into popularity in the 1970s. This practice is very involved, comprised of nearly 30 poses. A class usually takes 90 minutes to complete.
Bikram helps stimulate the movement of oxygenated blood throughout the body. But it’s not for everyone.
Classes are held in sweltering environments, with temperatures as high as 105 degrees. This is to help remove toxins from the body and, as you might imagine, help with weight loss.
Many people confuse Bikram yoga with hot yoga. But there are significant differences. Hot yoga pertains to any sort of yoga practiced in a hot room. Bikram is a specific practice on its own.12
Choosing A Form Of Yoga: Which One Is Right For You?
There are a lot of forms of yoga that are safe and effective for beginners. Many elderly people also practice yoga. And there are even prenatal yoga classes for pregnant women.
In order to find the right kind of yoga for you, it will be important to ask yourself why you want to do it in the first place. Are you looking for physical benefits? Are you interested in losing weight or increased flexibility and balance? Or do you want to perform yoga for meditation or spiritual purposes?
It might be worth it to join a few classes that offer different types of yoga to see which one is the best fit for you. Again, though, you should never try any kind of yoga — especially hot yoga — before getting your doctor’s permission.
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