Different Types of Yoga
Different Types of Yoga

Are you interested in taking the yoga plunge? It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the exotic names and many different classes, to say nothing of all the accompanying yoga gear targeted at American consumers. We’re here to announce that: 1) it’s not that difficult to choose the right yoga class for your needs, and 2) you don’t really need anything except an open mind and comfortable clothing you can move in. There are many types of yoga, but you’re likely to encounter just a few at your gym, and all of them will come with descriptions to help you decide which class is right for you. If you’d like a preview, read on for five of the most common yoga styles.

  1. Hatha yoga is what most people think of as yoga. It includes both poses (asanas) and breathing patterns (pranayama) and is often said to build flexibility and strength while soothing tension and anxiety. Generally slower-paced and gentle, a beginning hatha yoga class makes a great introduction to yoga.

  2. Iyengar yoga is a form of yoga that emphasizes achieving and holding poses in correct body alignment. Poses are held longer than in other types of yoga, and the instructor will actively correct students’ poses. Although not ideal for anyone looking for a cardiovascular workout, Iyengar yoga can be a good beginner class. The use of props like blocks, towels, straps, and chairs makes it accessible even to people with injuries or limited range of movement.

  3. Ashtanga/Vinyasa yoga, in contrast, is highly active and emphasizes synchronizing the breath with flowing, constant movement. Highly aerobic, this is yoga for people who want to get a workout and build strength and muscle. Ashtanga yoga is sometimes also called power yoga and will vary in style and intensity from teacher to teacher.

  4. Bikram yoga attempts to recreate the conditions in which yoga started. Students practice in temperatures of 95 degrees and up and 40% humidity. Sweating is expected, and indeed, unavoidable. Here’s a comprehensive workout for the heat-tolerant!

  5. Kundalini yoga is a more philosophical branch of yoga. It aims to awaken awareness through a combination of poses, meditation, chanting, and breathing exercises.