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Exploring Various Yoga Styles and What They Represent

If you’re thinking of trying yoga (or trying a new type), you’ll quickly find that there are numerous options and choosing one can seem overwhelming. It’s probably best to try several types before sticking with the one that resonates with you. Yoga is not a one-size-fits-all practice. Different styles are better for different people. For example, a 20-year-old and a 60-year-old have different needs, as do someone who is muscular and stiff and someone who is flexible and hyper-mobile. Some basic yoga styles to consider include:

Hatha

Hatha yoga is all about the basics. Classes tend to be slower-moving, and you’ll hold each pose for a few breaths before moving on to the next one. Hatha is typically gentle and a good choice for beginners. The slower pace makes this a great class for those just starting out (or anyone who would like to try a gentler, “easier” type of yoga).

Vinyasa

Vinyasa is a dynamic practice that links breath and movement together in an almost dance-like way. Participants don’t linger in each pose very long; these classes can be quicker-paced and usually get the heart rate up. Many teachers play upbeat music during class and match the sequence of the poses to the beat. Vinyasa is best for intense exercisers such as runners and those who enjoy HIIT because of the continuous movement.

Iyengar

Iyengar classes focus on precision and detail, such as body alignment. Students use props such as yoga blocks, straps, or blankets to assist them in working within a safe, effective range of motion. Poses are held for a longer time that in Vinyasa. If you’d like to try Iyengar, it’s smart to begin with a level one class to become familiar with the technique. Iyengar is best for yogis who are detail-oriented and interested in movement, form, and anatomy. It is also a good option for students of all ages.

Ashtanga

Think of Ashtanga as an approach to yoga that is both challenging and orderly. In these classes, you’ll go through six series of yoga poses sequenced in a specific way, breathing and flowing through each one to build heat. Performing the same poses in the same order every time is a draw for some and a turn-off for others. If you’re a type-A individual or a perfectionist, you may enjoy the strict guidelines and routine of Ashtanga.

Bikram

Consisting of a series of 26 poses and two breathing exercises and practiced in a 105-degree room, Bikram yoga will get you sweating. All Bikram classes practice the same 90-minutes sequence. Thanks to the heat and the vigorous practice, Bikram can feel quite strenuous. Remember to drink plenty of water beforehand and rest when you need to. Bikram is great for beginners because of its predictable sequence.

Hot Yoga

Like Bikram, hot yoga is practiced in a heated room. However, classes are not restricted to the 26-pose sequence of Bikram. The heat can help you move into some poses more deeply, but this also makes it easy to overstretch, so take care not to push yourself too hard. Hot yoga is best for those who love to sweat, and there are plenty of beginner-friendly classes available.

Kundalini

Kundalini yoga is a physically and mentally challenging practice that looks quite different from most other yoga classes. Participants perform repetitive physical movements combined with intense breath work (kriyas) while chanting and meditating at the same time. The goal is to break through internal barriers and achieve a higher level of self-awareness. Kundalini is a good choice for folks who are looking for a spiritual practice. This style of yoga is for those who want something more than just a workout.

Yin Yoga

Yin yoga is the place to find your zen. This is a slower-moving practice during which participants hold poses for several minutes at a time. Yin yoga is meditative and brings about calm and balance for the body and mind, as well as targeting deeper connective tissue to restore elasticity and length. If you’d like to stretch and unwind, yin yoga may just be for you.

Restorative

A restorative yoga class is a mellow, slow-moving experience designed to create deep relaxation. It might feel like you aren’t doing much, but that’s the point. In a restorative yoga class, you’ll use props such as yoga blocks and bolsters to keep your body fully supported in each pose. These classes are ideal for everyone, but particularly those who have trouble slowing down or struggle with anxiety. It’s also a good option for athletes on recovery days.

Try one or all – you might just find yourself hooked on a specific style before you know it!

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